Thursday, March 27, 2014

These Days by Rachel Nemhauser

In case I haven’t yet been clear, being Nate’s mom can be really, really hard sometimes.  He can make a leisurely, sunshine-filled Sunday afternoon feel endless and burdensome, and turn a trip to the grocery store into an exercise in patience and humility. He can turn a casual family dinner into a tornado and a car ride into chaos.  He’s exceptionally skilled at finding the one thing in any room you really don’t want him to touch, and he’s almost impossible to redirect. He’s messy, and his style of mess often leads to permanent damage, like non-commissioned Sharpie wall-art or cracked plumbing.  He’s smart, he’s a troublemaker, and he’s had 8 years of occupational therapy.  Don’t underestimate that combination!

Please be assured I love Nate powerfully and wholly. I love him so much that his laugh can still give me goose bumps and his profile sometimes gets me choked up.  I love his mischief, I love his way of talking, I love his snuggles and I love his red hair.  I love him so much that, even when he’s being his most annoying, I still love him.  Most of the time my love for him completely dwarfs the other stuff.
But this is not about the times my love dwarfs the other stuff.  This is about when the other stuff wins.  About the times when Nate makes a leisurely Sunday impossible. When he has just clogged a toilet with an entire roll of toilet paper, and spilled milk on his bed and sprayed sunscreen on the windows and hit his brother and locked the cat in the bedroom and managed to get the child-proof cap off the gummy vitamins and it’s not even 9 a.m. yet. I’m talking about those days. 
The days where it isn’t cute and funny anymore. The days where Isaac really needs help with his math homework but I can’t take my eyes off of Nate for 5 minutes. The days where he talks without stopping for an entire car ride about Scooby Doo and zombies and setting traps, and starts screeching if anyone tries to talk about something else.  The days where he screams loudly, publically and often or overflows the bathtub after dumping an entire bottle of shampoo in the water.
These are the days I wonder if we’re doing it all wrong.  If we’re pushing him hard enough. If our approach is not working. These are the days I can spiral into a sea of second guessing and self-doubt.  The days my heart hurts for Isaac, and I see, clear-eyed and certain, that our family has it harder than other families and it’s really not fair. The days when I feel sad, worn out and at the end of my rope. The days when Nate’s bedtime hangs like a lush green mirage in the ever-distant future, sure to bring abbreviated bedtime stories and only the briefest of snuggles once it finally arrives.
As Nate’s mom there is no avoiding these days. Rather, I make sure I have a plan for when they come. I have other moms to talk to, moms who have had these days and can assure me my family isn’t the only one.  I have loved ones to talk and laugh with, ample opportunities to get away for a while, a dog who loves to take long walks with me, and breathing techniques for when I’m about to throw something through a window. It’s a delicate balance that works for me. 
I know I’m not the only one who has days (or weeks or months) like this, and I know that knowing that helps a lot.  Please share your experiences, and what works for you on those days. I’d love to hear from you!


  1. As i read this post and can visualize each moment you are enduring, my heart aches and i feel like "if only i could do...". Of course then reality sets in and i realize that my temperament would not be the best for Nate for an extended period of time. I realize that you are the exactly right mom for both of your boys. I have learned so much from you as far as grandparenting the boys. There are times when being with Nate can bring up all my inadequacies and my vision for a fun time together turns into an endurance contest..and lots of deep breathing for me!
    Everyone experiences those days with their children when the clock seems to move at a snails pace and there is one too many spilled milk cup. It is those times when a call to a friend or locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes can help restore your equilibrium. It also is helpful to let your partner know that the day has been particularly challenging and that you will need a night free of bedtime duties. And then when all else fails, put Nate in the bathtub. At least he's contained for awhile and he comes out clean!
    You do an extraordinary job in sometimes really difficult circumstances. I think it would be okay if you screamed when nate might feel good! (but maybe not when you're in the grocery store :-))
    And the best thing is that the next day, when Nate wakes up and he is snuggly and warm and hugs you, you can imagine that this day will be a good one!

  2. Rachel - beautifully said. It seems like yesterday when we were sitting at your house having tea.

    Your mother-in-law is right; you are the best mom for those boys.

    Blessings to you my friend and may the peace of God fill you in those days.

  3. These words really strike a chord right now, and it DOES make easier to know that you are not alone. I needed the reminder to reach out to others. It feels like there isn't time, never enough time to do what "needs" to be done, let alone take a break. When I lean on my "support" people to help with the essentials it seems too much to ask them to help to just give me a break. Your post reminded me that it IS important to ask for help and not feel guilty about it. How can we parent if we are falling apart? So...guess who's taking the kids tonight? parents. Thank you! You inspire me, you inspire me with your honesty and your willingness to share it with the world. You are an amazing individual and I am honored to call you friend=)