Saturday, December 24, 2016

7 quick grievances

I hear today is Festivus, the day for the Airing of Grievances! I don't have many grievances from this year, because most of the things that have gone wrong aren't personal, but let's see if I can come up with seven, in honor of the day.


My uterus. Seriously, I hate that dang thing. Not only does it get pregnant when I don't want to, it's giving me Braxton-Hicks contractions all the dang time and I hate those.

My pelvis is also as out-of-joint as it's ever been, so grievances for that too.  I take good care of it, and it just does not return the favor.  The big thing that kills it is lying down with Miriam at night, which I have to do half of every night because it takes her a lot longer to fall asleep than it takes me ... so long before she's still enough for me to creep away, I've drifted off on the floor mattress beside her.

At this point I have some really painful separated abs -- every time I bend over to pick something on the floor (an activity I can't easily avoid) it feels like the baby is going to clamber right out the front.  Hurts like the dickens.  And my stomach is too squashed to eat much of anything, and yet somehow I can't quit snacking all the time.  Especially if it's dry Cheerios, which I've oddly become addicted to.

Anyway, I won't be dealing with this much longer, because I'm 36 weeks today. And yet, I'm not to the point yet where I want it to be over, because I know what comes next.  Hint: it involves screaming.


Miriam.  Don't get me wrong, she's still sweet and cute and hilarious, but she is in the thick of a difficult stage.  She wants to nurse every half hour or so, which I won't let her do, so there is wailing.  (She is on my lap wailing right now.)  She can't bear to be more than about twelve inches from me, and even when she's right on top of me, that's not good enough unless I am nursing her, feeding her, reading to her, singing her a song, or otherwise giving her my undivided attention.  If she's not getting that, she'll go deliberately break something in front of me in the hopes of getting it back.

This is either the effect or the cause of her terrible nighttime sleep, which ranges from one wakeup a night to five or six wakeups.  Or sometimes an hour in the middle of the night where she can't go back to sleep and just kicks the wall and whines.  I wanted to nightwean her but I honestly don't know what else I'd do -- she always wakes up a little panicky and if she doesn't get to nurse she screams.  No reasoning with a half-asleep child ... but of course if you get her fully awake then she might stay that way for some time.

John is going to be taking over her night waking soon and I am not sure what he's going to do.  I don't think he knows either.  He can get her down for her initial sleep better than I can, but in the middle of the night she only wants me.  It's something I worry about a lot.


Michael.  I'm pretty aggrieved at Michael just now, which mainly isn't really his fault. He just whines a LOT.  See, he likes to play with Marko, but he is about done with Marko dictating all the rules of every game and yelling at him for any detail he attempts to improvise on.  And he likes to play with Miriam, but she's gotten very grabby and pushy lately.  So there's a lot of him either lashing out at one of them or running to me screaming and wailing that they're being mean. And they are.  It's just, I used to be able to count on him to be the mellow kid who'd adapt to his demanding siblings, and he just isn't right now.  Instead he flips out long before they've actually done anything to him, because he's so sure they will.

What he really wants, more than anything, is to run around wild, screaming and roughhousing.  In the summer there are ways he can do that that don't make me lose my mind ... in the winter, not so much.  So I find myself telling him to SETTLE DOWN and BE QUIET 47 times a day, and I feel bad because he needs to get that energy out somehow.  Sometimes I allow some craziness downstairs while I'm upstairs, or upstairs while I'm downstairs (yay big house!) but he really can't moderate his wildness so often he or someone else gets hurt.

Also: did he really need to spend half an hour sobbing this morning because I poured the milk into a measuring cup (to sniff it and make sure it was still good) before I poured it into his oatmeal?  I think not.


Wouldn't want to leave Marko out! I'm aggrieved at his extreme rigidity.  Hard to say if I'm noticing it more now that we are working on his assessment, or if he's stepping it up to match with his siblings' demandingness, but it feels like anytime he's crossed at all, there's yelling.  He throws a fit if I ever serve chicken.  He throws a fit if anyone says something inaccurate.  He throws a fit if someone pretends differently from how he's pretending.  Last Saturday he screamed and cried and tried to hit people for half an hour because, I kid you not, Michael said his lizard, Swampy, was made of scales, and Marko says no one is allowed to pretend that because lizards in real life aren't entirely made of scales.  I feel like I'm walking on eggshells, and it's not fair to his siblings either to have to always be telling them "just don't talk to Marko, you're upsetting him."  (Though that's something I have to tell every kid, because every last one of them seems addicted to repeating over and over whatever phrase they have found makes their sibling scream the most.  It's the worst.)

About Marko's assessment: the bad news is, our stupid fake insurance will not cover him seeing the specialist he is supposed to see.  The good news is, the school district will "unofficially" assess him on their own.  By law it doesn't matter if a child is homeschooled; if a child has or may have a disability that is affecting their ability to get an education, the school must provide him with whatever it provides the other children in the district -- whether assessments or specific educational help.

The further bad news to that is, they're taking their own sweet time setting it up, and that's not great for us because now is a great time for me to be taking Marko to appointments and a month from now is not.  Legally they have to move on this by February, which, hello, is no comfort to me at all.

John recently introduced the boys to Minecraft, having heard it's really educational and so on, and Marko latched onto it with the full force of his obsessive personality.  He talks about it so incessantly I fear my brain will leak out my ears.  He's only allowed to play on weekends, and only if he's done schoolwork every weekday (which means we are being a lot more consistent about that, and no real power struggles about it), but the rest of the week is all taken up with talking about it, asking questions about it, flipping through the Minecraft books he got from the library, playing "real life Minecraft," refusing to wear any clothes but dark pants and a blue shirt like the character in it wears, etc.  He's suddenly amazingly cooperative, but only if you remind him that only good listeners get to play Minecraft.  So much for my self-motivated, no-rewards-or-punishments approach to education.  And every time I try to do something else fun with Marko -- convince him to go outside, read a book to him, get us all playing a game that another kid wants to play -- he tells us he just isn't excited or interested by anything else anymore but Minecraft.  He even spent a few days hating Christmas  because he was afraid he'd miss the chance to play Minecraft because we were opening presents and eating cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  I kinda hate Minecraft by this point.

Yet, when an obsessive kid has an obsession, you have no choice but to read up on it and try to take an interest, so I have.  And Marko is getting a Minecraft action figure for Christmas.  I have hopes that it will make him appreciate Christmas at least a little -- and that he'll use it for some creative play instead of just following me around reciting different rules of Minecraft.


Might be cheating, but my sixth grievance is all of my kids together.  They just are all going through difficult stages at the moment, and these stages work together synergetically to result in a massive cluster of awful.  They spend their time antagonizing each other, winding each other up in wild games, or fighting over who gets to be closest to me.

That last is probably the most annoying.  You know how you can go outside and it seems pleasant and not buggy at all, but within five minutes gnats are swarming around your head?  That's what the kids do whenever I attempt to sit down.  They all want to sit next to me, and of course three kids can't all sit next to the same person.  So they either start pushing and pinching one another, or they try climbing on top of me to stake out my lap.  But of course once one kid has done that, the others get jealous because someone else is closer to me than them, so there is screeching and pulling at each other.  A couple of weeks ago we all had the stomach flu and every time I tried to lie down on the couch, they would actually pile on top of me like a rugby scrum, kicking each other (and me, accidentally) and wailing.  Mothers should never have to be sick; it is simply not feasible when you have children.

The funny thing is, I was looking at old posts the other day and saw that at this stage of Miriam's pregnancy, the exact same thing was going on.  Lots of fighting, and lots of clinginess and jealousy.  What is it about being massively pregnant that makes children misbehave?  A few months ago I felt a lot worse than I do now, was crankier and more prone to neglect them, and they just played downstairs half the day and left me out of it.  I know that pregnancy makes sensory stimuli more annoying to me, but I'm pretty sure that objectively, they really are being more overstimulating now than they were then.

One possibility is that we just aren't leaving the house enough.  It's too cold and wet for them to want to play outside, and there are very few places around here to go in winter.  And, of course, every time we do go anywhere they come home with the plague, so I'm not eager to try.  Once I hit 37 weeks I'm planning to cloister myself because they pick up germs so easily and you all may remember what a disaster it was giving birth with sickness in the house last time.  But that always does leave the kids bored and bouncing off the walls.

Another is that I'm feeling a lot less willing to treat Miriam as the baby lately.  I do hold other children on my lap now, even when she throws a fit and tries to pull them off yelling "MY Mama!"  So instead of the peaceful coexistence of "Mama belongs to Miriam so everyone else had better go find something else to do" there's jockeying for more lap time.  And Miriam gets super needy because she's not getting the attention she's used to.  I could just go back to open season on nursing and hold her 100% of the time she wants, but ... that just would be pushing back the inevitable, and I'd rather get it out of the way now so it's not a new-baby thing.  Though experience with Michael was that it took him over a year to get over the not-the-baby-anymore wailing and clinginess.  I certainly HOPE Miriam doesn't react the same way.  She certainly is excited enough about everything baby-related.

And maybe it's just a matter of them all just happening to be having a hard time at the same moment, or one kid's hard time spreading to the others, and therefore not really my fault.  I may be able to help -- I think adding a bit more structure to our days has been good, when I've done that -- but in the end the kids might just have to struggle through it and hopefully be done with it by the time the baby gets here.


You know what?  Six is enough grievances and I honestly don't feel that negative about life.  So I'll cheat and talk about good stuff that's going on.

First, I still have a pretty decent energy level.  While it's true that I can't do much of anything without putting my hip joints in excruciating pain, I still would pick that over the horrible dragging feeling that I dealt with a few months ago.  When you have energy but lack mobility, you can still knit, spin, read challenging books, write emails to friends, and come up with activities for the kids.  And I am getting more housework done than I was then, albeit at the price of some pain.  And the thing about pain is, you can kind of get used to it, especially if it's not one of the really bad kinds like headaches or labor.

Second, I've been getting a lot of good crafting done.  No time like the third trimester to knit hats.  I even dug out my loom for one special gift.

Third, everyone has been extremely nice to me lately.  Friends keep showing up at my house to listen to my problems and sweep my floor.  I was in a panic about childcare for labor and a post to the local parish's Facebook page got me a ton of responses.  The person we've found is so perfect I want to adopt her.  I remember having all these doubts about being the "heretic" among the tight Catholic community here, but the reality is that these are great people with an actual functional community and that's not the sort of thing one should give up.  Maybe I don't fit in perfectly, but I am being welcomed and treated with kindness even by the people who know my Awful Secret.  Whereas the other friends I've made in the past year or two?  I still like them, but I wouldn't call them up in a pinch because I just don't feel like our relationship is up to favor-exchanging yet.

Fourth, with the leaves off the trees I get gorgeous sunrises and sunsets every day.  I really like living here.  Still puzzled by the radiator -- why does the thermostat downstairs read that it's set to 66, the actual temperature is 76, and the radiator is on, while the thermostat upstairs reads it's set to 70, it's actually 68, and the radiator is not on?  Or why, in the middle of the night, is it boiling in our room and freezing in Miriam's room, even though the thermostat in the hall supposedly controls both radiators?  But propping doors open is mostly taking care of all the weirdness.  Our fridge also started to fail recently, but it turned out it was covered in our home warranty and we got a whole new fridge for a $100 deductible!  Not too bad at all, even though it took them forevvvveeeerrrrr to get to it.  Home warranties are pretty cool, and I'd recommend them to anybody who doesn't have a lot of savings.  If you've got the savings to buy new appliances as needed, you'll save money just doing that, but if not .... the amount of panic that you are spared when you realize that you pay this month exactly what you pay every month, even though a major appliance broke, is definitely worth the money.  It means that one terrible month can't wipe you out.

I would have liked to visit family for Christmas, but of course that isn't feasible at 36 weeks pregnant, and it looks like we are going to have a very nice Christmas at home.  And it's nice not having to stress about travel.  Our plans are very simple and relaxing; no 12-hour drives or plane flights or anything.  I've baked cookies a lot lately. Tomorrow we're having bacon and orange juice and some kind of sweet bread for breakfast, and then for dinner a beef roast which hopefully everyone will enjoy.  (ONE DAY where no one complains about the dinner would be delightful.)  Our tree is set up in the living room, where it does not dwarf our entire living space, and I have a wreath outside.  It's all very low-key, but that's kind of how we roll.  John even has the next week off, so he and I can knock out some new-baby chores and maybe go for one last date.

I hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


Cristina said...

Merry Christmas, Sheila!

Miriam's hat is so cute! Is it one of the new crafts you knitted?

Most of these takes are supposed to be grievances, but they are somehow more charming than complaining. When Marko, Michael and Miriam are older and have outgrown a lot of the behavior you describe here, I'm sure they're going to love reading these old posts and seeing themselves through your eyes.

On self-motivated education: I don't have any children yet (oh, look, another year that ends with me saying that . . .), but my friends who do pretty much say the same thing about having to compromise things they thought they never would. The funniest ones are those who admit they use chocolate as toilet training bribes. It may not be the "right" thing, but in the end, you've got to do what you've got to do, I guess.

As for me, I've been crocheting a lot lately. I had the "brilliant" idea to make bookmarks for all my friends at church, all my teammates at work, and all my cousins that I see at Christmas. But the super-easy fan bookmark pattern became super tedious by the time I was done with #30 . . . and there were still dozens more to go! I'm amazed that I know and feel generous toward so many people this year! And why did I think this would be easier than baking cookies?

Now thank goodness you can't catch any bugs from the comments, because I'm ill right now! Laryngitis on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (which was all right by me because I got to take sick leaves) and a full-blown fever now. I'm going through my precious supply of frozen chicken stock, making soup.

Sheila said...

Yes, I spun the wool for that hat and knitted it. I like the way the different shades of blue ended up combining-- it can be really hard, while you're sorting out the wool, to figure out how it's going to go once it's spun and knit, so you sort of have to hope. Michael has a similar hat, which I just finished last night, only without earflaps because he didn't want them. Jury is out whether I'll have time to make a baby one. (Marko demanded a Gandalf hat instead, which I may post another time.)

My desire to knit homemade gifts is the main reason for my gift flakiness. People get them from me some years and not other years, because no way can I actually knit something for every friend, every year. This year nobody got anything from me except immediate family -- though my dad did get a hat for his birthday a few years ago, which was actually meant for his previous birthday. Ah, gift procrastination.

Glad you have stock in your freezer! It seems like every time I get sick I find I don't have any. Feel better soon. :)

Sheila said...

I mean my dad's birthday was a few MONTHS ago. I'm not that terrible. ;)

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