A little uncomfortable honesty ahead…
I want to write that it’s been a hard winter, but perhaps all winters are difficult. This one feels extremely lonely. I think the nature of small, simple living without a car is easy and carefree during the summer. Wintertime is a different story.
The holidays were cozy and weekend outings and events dotted our calendar, but January sogged into February and suddenly I realized that things weren’t going so well. Or, if I’m being truthful, my husband basically made me face the facts. Telling everyone that I am fine and happy doesn’t make it so.
For me, it has been a bit of a rough patch. Most days, I connect with an adult only over breakfast and during my husband’s lunch break. Felix is in a phase of resistance to anything outside his main goal of forcing me to read every book in the house. Day in and day out it feels as though I am on the clock, facing a wall of resistance to every little basic need I may present.
Do I have to pee? Felix follows me into the bathroom, often coming over to yank on my shirt and cry while I try to finish my business. I stopped showering during the week months ago, and really sort of stopped taking care of myself much at all. My meals have become weird mismatches of leftovers heated and scarfed while Felix is asleep. It’s as though in my tiredness, I decided to avoid as much of the resistance as possible by just completely halting any of my own endeavors.
It’s hard to explain, and sort of unbecoming in general. It definitely doesn’t mesh with the calm, gentle aesthetic I aspire to. It makes my son seem sort of awful, when really he is a very good little guy! He’s a toddler, doing what toddlers do.
Underneath it all, though, is an uncomfortable truth. I never knew life would be this way with a child. I never, ever anticipated being a stay-at-home parent. I never wanted to halt career ambitions, never imagined I would be in a position to miss dull office chatter.
I don’t feel comforted when people tell me it will be okay, that I can find work in a few years once Felix is in school. He will have siblings, more time will pass. There will be jobs, sure, but I fear my chances of a real career are very slim now.
I feel all of this, while at the same time knowing how lucky I am to be home with Felix. I am! But it isn’t easy or really very fun. I feel guilt over the laundry that piles up because it is hard to get down to the basement with a basket and a baby. My blood boils a bit as I try to fill the dishwasher only to have Felix pull the forks out (resistance again.)
It takes a lot of strength to stand up to his meltdowns over and over and over, and then wake all night long t0 comfort him and help him sleep, and then get up early early early with him. To stay calm and not become an angry person, it is an effort.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I haven’t had a date with my husband since the summer time. Our alone time at night on the weekends is spent in exhausted quiet, as we tiptoe around in order to not wake our son. It’s hard to live in an open-space apartment.
But little by little, things are changing. Felix has started to sleep a bit better lately. Three or four hours uninterrupted! This morning, I dragged the high chair into the bathroom and turned on some Raffi songs. I took my shower. He resisted, yes, and I had to leave the curtain open a bit so he could see me…but I showered!
Then, I got dressed and I brushed my hair.
Tomorrow I will do it again. Winter will melt into spring, and suddenly I will be looking back and marveling at those rough days when Felix never slept and I never showered.