Monday, October 29, 2007

burned out

Charlie ran a marathon in 2004, a few months before the triplets were born.

He told me that he "bonked" at the 20-mile mark. I hear this is quite common with marathoners.

They're running along - and then - they hit the wall of complete physical exhaustion.

I think that same phenomenon happens in parenthood. I'm sure of it, because the exact thing happened to me, this past week.

I totally bonked.

I was exhausted and overwhelmed. My body ached. I felt a lot like Wiley coyote, trapped underneath a huge rock. I couldn't get out. Worse yet, I didn't want to get out. All of the motivation and adrenalin that I had been chugging along on, was spent.

What was the point of doing laundry? There would only be more to do, tomorrow.

What was the point of bathing the kids? They would only get dirty again.

What was the point of cooking any meals? They wouldn't eat them, anyway.

Why bother watering the plants? The kids are sure to kill them.

Why get any one, including myself, dressed? We'll be going to bed, again, later today.

Why mop? Why vacuum? Why dust? Why break up fights? Why put toys away?

Why bother doing anything?

The energy required was so great and it was nearly impossible to be successful. I might as well try to hold back the tide with my hands. Or blow out the wildfires.

When I imagined myself as a mother, before we had children, I always envisioned a clean and tidy house. I could see our well dressed children that sat down, orderly, and colored with crayons. Or cooperatively built tall towers out of blocks.

Well-balanced meals that our children would actually eat magically appeared on our dining room table, which was free of sharpie marks. I looked beautiful. I was always well dressed and had abs of steel. I preferred carrot sticks over a bowl of ice cream and craved a pitcher of ice tea over a carafe of wine. My arms were never flabby, nor did they jiggle for a full second after I stopped moving. We would all sing "Doe-Ray-Me" over and over again. When the phone would ring, I would answer it with good cheer.

Last week, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw a person who looked old and haggard and aged beyond her years. My smile lines were overshadowed by frown lines. Around me, the house was a disaster. There were mounds of laundry. The kids would sit down to color and then break all the crayons. They were throwing their blocks at each other, smacking one another in the head. The only food they would eat were graham crackers smeared with peanut
butter. They would drink milk and spit it on the table.

Not a single person was singing "Doe-Ray-Me".

Instead, I was running around in circles yelling "Holy crap, what now?!"

What. Now.


The baby was crying. The kids were crying. The phone was ringing off the hook.

I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to do anything, but sit in the corner and get past the first chapter of my new book "Eat, Pray, Love."

While shoving my face full of chocolate.

That's all I wanted.

But I didn't get it. Instead, I got abbreviated naps and another day that was worse than the one before. When we finally did get out of the house, I was approached by a woman at Target who said "Look at all those children, are they yours?! I could never imagine!! How do you do it?!"

Instead of graciously smiling and giving a witty response like "Prayer and wine!" I responded "Of course you would do it, if you had to. Seriously, what are my options? Can I turn them out on the street and say 'You are free! Go fend for yourselves!'? I'm pretty sure I'd get put away for that."

The woman gave me a look like I was loony. Which I was.

I know a Mexican woman with 12 children and she never complains. She is so darn happy that she has clean water and a roof over her head. Nothing seems to faze her. She is like a workhorse, prodding along, day after day. She makes all of her food from scratch, including tortillas. She never screams. She always smiles. She doesn't even drink tequila.

I really don't know how she does it.

Parenthood is an incredible adventure. There are times when it's not at all what I imagined it would be. There are days when it's a million times better than I expected, and there are days when it's a million times more challenging.

Honestly, I didn't think it would be this challenging and our kids are still in diapers.

Quite often, when you're at the bottom of the mountain, you can't see the top. There is no end in sight, just a long, long, long trail that seems to go straight up. That's when having a positive attitude is more important than ever.

Now where the heck did I put mine?! Or did the kids break it, along with the remote?

Actually .... this week is already looking much better for me.

The air has cleared, the sun is shining.

Our home was spared from the fires.

The Red Sox are the World Series Champions.

There are only 1,035 days left until Kindergarten. Or, 670 if I decide to start them early.

We got out of the house first thing, this morning. I ran the kids until they couldn't run any more, and then I fed them a picnic lunch. Then I brought them home, washed their hands, changed their diapers, read them a story and put them all down for a nap. Including Henry - who screamed blue bloody murder for 30 minutes before falling asleep in his own crib and not on my chest for the first time, ever.

It isn't always easy. Actually, it's very rarely easy.

But I know what to do and I know how to do it. Although sometimes, it is damn hard to grab yourself by the bootstraps when you're stuck under a rock and the world around you is burning to the ground.

That's when it really helps to have a supportive husband.

And a freezer full of Rocky Road.


  1. You can do it hon! Arm jiggling is (under?)rated? Whatever- ignore it. So glad the air is clearing and you got everyone OUT.

  2. Okay, Jen. You are back. See, they smell weakness and take over. You are in charge. YEAH! Run 'em hard and put 'em down! You go, girl! YEAH! You can do it! You are almost at the finish line! Just a 1000 more days to go!

  3. What an awesome note from Charlie -- I think I would have to frame it :)

  4. Charlie is a keeper.....

    I finished the same book last week...keep reading it will give you a boost, it is magnificent!

  5. I think you should sit in the corner and start WRITING the first chapter of your book! I'd read it, you could make millions...think about it!

  6. I think you are AWESOME! You can go through a tough week like that and still come out of it looking at the positives. I guess that's what being a good mother is all about! And YOU, my dear, are a great mother.

  7. Sorry you guys can't make it up here for Shayna's birthday party.... we completely understand! We'll miss you guys and hopefully we can make it down to see you all! keep the faith, sista' and listen to Michele S. They CAN smell weakness! Be the Alpha and make sure they know you are!

  8. That note is great. The best word is "even."

  9. Glad to hear you are feeling better. I also find that getting out makes me feel better. On a side note, a lady on a bb I frequent, used lysol on her dining table to get sharpie marker off. Maybe it's worth a try?

    Jackie (momma to twins)

  10. i know!!! that's why i'm having such a hard time deciding. HA!

    luckily these things go in cycles. you're bound to be on the upswing soon.

  11. You are a strong, honest woman who is doing a great job. Hang in there!

    Karen in Buffalo

    PS: Charlie's note brought tears to my eyes.

  12. We have "one of those women" you talked about in our family but unfortunately she's not of any blood relations so we didn't get the gene!! We got her by luck through marriage. Antoher smart thing Uncle Bernie did!! ;-)

    Aunt Lorraine, She is one of those beautiful woman who only seems to have kind words to say; never raising her voice. Always smiling, so gracious and so sweet.
    Once I asked Jackie if she really was as sweet and wonderful on the inside as she seemed to be on the out. Of course the answer was yes!

    (I would try to place my mother in the category but ... since she did try to run you over with her car when you were 12 - although well deserved; you must agree...I guess we can't really use her.);-)

    One good thing though; luckily we all learned how to marry "those kind of people"!

    Enjoy your "time out". Love, Marg

  13. His note almost made me cry...
    Hang in there... good days, bad days... it won't last forever, right?

  14. I can relate to you so much. I have days that I just am not sure I will make it to the next day. Today is one of those days. You are an awesome mother! Hang in there! You can do it.

  15. Johnny Walker might come from Kilmarnock, but I don't think that's enough of a reason to go on a tour there... I've been. MetroDad could buy the JW in duty free and go on a tour of Islay instead.

  16. Vent it, honey! Vent IT!

    If anybody deserves a meltdown it's you! Charlie you did bring home the salsa and a case of wine, right?!?!?

    Just know that we are here, though 3000 miles away, but here for you if you need us!

    Want me to send you a chunky monkey too?

  17. Please tell me you'll start them in kindergarten EARLY!

    And go eat the rocky road!

    Thank you so much for entertaining us, and giving us perspective, even while dealing with all that.

  18. you are awesome and charlie is great! aren't those notes just awesome. i was just telling my husband that my love language was still words of encouragment! maybe i'll get a note soon too.

  19. If it makes you feel any better, I had a dream this morning someone left me with their triplets to watch, and I COULDN'T DO IT:) I failed at my task, nobody got hurt or died but it was awful and so stressful! LOL
    Glad the sky has cleared up some. Good air is a good thing.

  20. I TOTALLY feel your pain except when I read your blog I always think "She is so together! She's much better than I am at this mom thing!" I only have twins (and a kid 16 months older than them, and one 4 years older than her).

    What a wonderful note from Hubby.

    I'm glad you all are safe and can breathe.

  21. I wish every gal in the world would be blessed with a Charlie. Do you think we can cloan him? I know the children are going to be just as kind and nice as he is. What a Man. His Mother did a wonderful job and I know your children are going to say the same about you. Can I help with the pre-school?

  22. You said it, sista! I'm right there with ya this week.

  23. I happened upon your blog and had to comment on your "burned out" post. MAN, I am so glad to hear another mother has days like this! And for you to have 4 children?!! I say "you are AMAZING". And I mean it. Thank you for the wonderful post. :-)