Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tears and Decaf

This has been a hard couple weeks, maybe the hardest since Cedar was born. All of his gas and allergy problems, plus me being run down with a cold, plus health issues in my extended family, all compounded by my lack of sleep and rest, has resulted in a swelling of my emotions, all of my worry and exhaustion coming to the surface in tears.

I have always been a fan of tears, however. That is, I am usually relieved when I finally come around to crying again, especially if I can really have at it in privacy and let out those wailing sounds of desperation. Because then, usually, I feel better, even if there are still more tears that need to be let out. For tears are always inside of me, dormant, waiting to build up enough that they finally must be released. So when they do come, I welcome them with a degree of relief. Oh, yes. You again. What took you so long?

I’ve cried a few times in this last week already. The last time was on Monday morning when I was finally going to get my long-awaited date with myself and my journal at a cafĂ©. Only since I am on an elimination diet now, I could not have my usual coffee (much less dairy or soy). So I ordered a decaf, which was lukewarm and sour. I drank it down nonetheless in the midst of chattering parents and noisy children at Top Pot, and tried to begin a new blog post about finally visiting a naturopath for Cedar’s allergy and gas issues. But I gave up after a few paragraphs. Not only did I not feel like rehashing the ordeal that we’ve been going through right then (especially since that morning Cedar’s red cheeks looked even worse than the day before, right when I thought they were getting better which left me demoralized and sad), but I also was not getting that usual caffeine kick that I’ve come to depend on to get me started with these blog entries. Normally, I can quickly overcome a bad night’s sleep, sit down, focus, and crank a first draft out in an hour or two, but not this day. Instead, I gave up after half an hour and drove home in tears, proceeding to bury my head in my husband’s chest. “What’s wrong?” he asked (he later told me he thought it was something awful, like I’d gotten in a car accident). “I’m too tired to write,” I cried. “And I just had the worst cup of decaf.”

I decided I just needed to sleep, forget about writing today. Matthew left to take Cedar on a walk, I got in bed, cried a little, then lay there for almost an hour, unable to go to sleep. Finally I got up to eat and resume the thus far disappointing day. Later on that day, I tried to sleep with Cedar three times while he napped, but every time my mind wouldn’t turn off, especially when fueled by the knowledge that I needed to fall asleep quickly if I wanted to get in more than a few minutes before he woke up again. No luck.

Later, at 9:30 in the evening, after Cedar had been down for a while and I’d finally managed to send off an important email, I decided to go to bed early, despite the fact that my husband was still home, the last night of his five-day weekend. Again, I lay in bed for an hour and could not fall asleep. So, I got up, took a shower, poured myself a glass of wine, and joined my husband on the couch. Slowly I felt myself begin to decompress. I guess I needed to unwind my mind, let out all this worry and exhaustion I’ve been carrying, even if it meant that I yet again wouldn’t get enough sleep that night. It was more important that I sit and be with my emotions. Sift through all those layers that were now churning in my chest where they’d risen to, more fluid and accessible than before. Still liable to spill out with the right word spoken at the right time, but easier now at least for me to sit with them calmly, breathe in and out of their pores.

I didn’t mean to write this blog entry today. I wanted to go for something more positive this time, about an aspect of motherhood that I’m grateful for, and have wanted to write on for weeks. I don’t want to people think that I complain a lot, or am depressed, or that I am not, at core level, enjoying motherhood, because I am. But I guess I still need to get this other stuff out of the way first. And there is a lot of “stuff” that builds up when you don’t have the time to properly take care of yourself.

Today, my mother is watching Cedar for three hours after returning from L.A., where she has been taking care of her mother. When she wasn’t here for three weeks, and right in the midst of a lot of my stressors, I realized how much I’d come to depend on this weekly Wednesday afternoon break, how much of a difference even just a couple hours to myself can make, especially when they are a scheduled into my life, and I can look forward and depend on them each week.

I don’t always write during this time. Sometimes I get a massage, and other times I simply do chores and run errands. But these days, even doing chores and running errands can feel like a break, if you aren’t trying to do them while still caring for a baby.

But I don’t want to end this blog now on a complaining note like that. It’s not that I always want to tie a Pollyanna bow on the end of every post or essay, but it’s more that I am striving to keep everything in perspective, to remember how good I still have it compared to so many. Things have been rough, yes, but I feel like I hit my low point last week, and now things are on the upswing. Things will get rough again, and again I will finally come to the point of tears, and then slowly, things will get better again. And it is only through reaching those low points that I can finally be blessed with my tears again, and start to realize how hard it really has been, and then remember that I can and should ask my community for all the love and support they can give me.  

I feel like during the first couple months of this motherhood endeavor, I was surprised and pleased by how good I was handling things, especially the
single-mom for four days a week aspect of my arrangement. These last couple months have been more challenging. I still think I’ve been handling it pretty well, but I also now acknowledge how much it has caught up with me. It’s been hard. And no need to tell me “it will get better” or to “hang in there,” because I know it will get better, and then it will get worse, and then it will get better—and around and around—because that is how life goes. And I will hang in there, of course, because I have to, and because I’m still breathlessly in love with my son, and with this thing called life.


  1. Hey Anne, I stumbled on your blog after seeing the post on Wendy Call's fb post. Your blog takes me right back 23 years ago to my own first baby, there in Seattle (Ballard), trying to keep my head above water. Even when you're tired, you write beautifully and movingly. May I suggest, for those brief moments of relaxation, that you try Thich Nhat Hanh's cd, Touching the Earth? It's the one with "the five prostrations" on it. I used it when my kids were (very) cranky babies, and now when my partner was recovering from spinal surgery and required a lot of worry and care. It helps me do that "unwinding" thing you were talking about, and even if I don't sleep, I'm rested. Best of luck, and enjoy that baby!

  2. Thank you, Deborah! I love Thich Nhat Hanh and will try to remember to check that out. I need to remember to breathe and meditate more, instead of simply vegetate when I'm exhausted. Thanks for reading and sharing.



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