Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pregnant, Petulant and Penitent

I'm a glutton for punishment? That's what the attic man told me today upon learning I am carrying my second set of twins. Wasn't really in the plan, I say. (At least my plan). But sometimes what I really want to say is, "Listen buddy - if you can't say something nice - don't say anything at all!" I'm trying really hard to nod and act like I understand when seasoned, well-meaning individuals tell me "This time is gone so quickly. Enjoy your children. They are grown before you know it." I can logically guesstimate that yes, in 20-25 years they will be close to my height, living away from home (possibly) and I will long for the sound of those little feet padding along our hardwoods, their small voices calling to me. I know they are right. But at the moment (while standing in the chapel foyer, feeling my face flush crimson because Ali is yelling a venomous series of "No! No! No!" to her sister, Sami is crying out of damaged confidence, and Eliza has just escaped outside the church building to run unsupervised in her nice dress and shoes in the snow) I am tempted to say - would you like to enjoy my children today?? Here! They're yours! 

Better yet! Why don't you show up around dinnertime? Please come any day but Sunday when Doug is still working late nights. Take an hour to fix a semi-nutritious meal with three toddlers dragging chairs up to the flaming stove-top, tugging on your pants, or frequenting the kitchen with wails and moans because their sister poked, scraped, hit, or shut the door on them. Wrangle them all into their seats (first reapply clothing that has been taken off downstairs), convince them to fold their arms for prayer, coerce with dessert and crazy antics so they will eat their main course, pick up two dumped sippy cups and thrown forks, not to mention the rest of the food on the floor. Release them from the table, get dishes in dishwasher in five minutes, rinse pans and set aside. Bathe three kids at the same time (otherwise it takes too long) but don't forget to force a larger than NBA-sized basketball up your shirt for effect before leaning over the tub. Be sure to tape the twins' diapers as to avoid certain fecal disaster in the morning. Comb hair, brush teeth, and lotion X 3.  Collapse onto couch to read stories. Stay awake. Herd into bedroom, toss into cribs, tousle hair, caress faces, kiss cheeks, sing songs, hold Sami's hand and sing only one line of each of her favorite songs. Get drinks of water. Turn lights out. Then put Eliza to bed after one final "healthy" snack  (No. Marshmallows and cookies are not healthy). After all children are in bed, do dishes, two more loads of laundry, sweep floor, check email, read if you have time. And please - would you try to go to bed before midnight for a change!?

Tax season seems to do this to me. I'm trying to hang on, be positive, take each day in stride, you know - focus on the moment. But as the weeks from January to April 15th slowly drag on, my energy wanes. I am lonesome for Doug. I long to be a family again. My belly feels like a drum. Or a taut balloon that can't hold another ounce of air with two monkeys inside gripping and trying to press their way out - flipping, rolling, undulating. I feel like I'm going to rupture and I'm only 25 weeks! I can no longer find my feet in the shower. I need a pedicure like a desert garden needs water. I can't clip my own toenails anymore. My plantar fasciitis is returning (I gained 9 lbs in four weeks. Impressed?). Bending over to pick up toys requires assuming ballet second position with severe external hip rotation. I'm a snack-a-holic. Blessed be home-made granola (thanks Deb) Anne's oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies, Peeps (you either love 'em or despise them; I happen to love them) and Starburst jelly beans. I need a hair-cut, hair color (my gray is out of control!!!), eyebrow trim, and some kind of facial treatment that can remove spots - does dermal abrasion really work? I also need some clothes that fit. Maybe a muumuu. Anyone heading to Mazatlan or Honolulu in the next few weeks? 

I wrote the above paragraphs a week ago while in a rather petulant mood. Holding on by my fingertips, complaining, feeling like the matriarchal martyr, I sat down to watch General Conference for the LDS Church that began Saturday of last weekend. During President Thomas Monson's talk (click here to read), the guilt set in. He shared a story of a woman during WWII whose husband had been killed and she was forced to walk alone, during winter months, from then East Prussia to Western Germany. She left with her three small children, one a baby in arms, pulling a handful of belongings behind her in a wagon. On the journey all three children died - one by one - and she buried them in the frozen ground with a teaspoon first, then her bare fingers. I turned to Doug and said. "OK. He is obviously telling this story for people like me so we will stop feeling sorry for ourselves!" At this point my grievances, including the blog post above, sounded like a shameful tirade. Honest. But shameful - leaning next to this woman's experience.  

Penitent, contrite, and feeling like I wanted to crawl under a laundry basket, I looked down on my existence from an aerial perspective and didn't dare feel picked on. I have a husband. We don't see him much right now - but I have one! And he loves us all intensely. I sleep with my three children in a warm, safe dwelling where I do not wake every moment of the shivering night straining to hear their shallow breathing. We have all we need and more.  

Less than optimal circumstances are for self-realization, progress, and advancement beyond my personal foibles and frailty. Motherhood is such an ebb and flow of emotions. Highs, lows, goods, bads. But maybe, in retrospect, this time will expose the snail-like development of my soul. For now, at the very least, I can mediate the contention over plastic easter eggs with a calm voice, prepare three plates of grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and lean over the bathtub tonight with appreciation and contentment, as I scrub three dirty girls clean. Pink-skinned, thriving, well.  


  1. Dear Catherine,

    Your entry once again sounds so true... Motherhood is such a blessing and at the time so much work and requires so much patience ...

    I admire you and look up to you... You know, it is OK to have days when you feel that way... I don't have a husband working crazy hours for 4 months straight and I still have the same emotions going through me sometimes.
    On the other hand, I had the same experience when I heard the story of the Russian mother - I cried picturing the hardship she went through and got reminded of how blessed we are and how small our trials can be compared to pioneers like her. It does not remove our trials but it helps us endure with Faith, hope and courage and gives us a different perspective.

    Good luck sweet Catherine...


  2. I know we should not complain, but in the moment, like can be so totally and completely overwhelming! I wish I could bring you dinner or take the girls for an afternoon so you could nap. We miss your company here.

  3. This helped me get going today! Thanks! I think I have to share this one--it's just too perfect not to! Miss you lots! Hang in there--hopefully less than a week to go!

  4. When I read your blog I loved every steaming second of it! It was actually nice to read that I'm not the only one that has a hard time while hubby is away--an dI mean that in only a purely thankful way that I can relate to you on another level too...(Husband being at work a ton, kids at the stove wanting to help cook, loud at church, etc) But then very thankful that even YOU--Cath whom I deem you at such a high esteem can have ebbs and flows in motherhood. It's amazing how just when WE think life is rough, we are really so thankful for what we have, and things could always be worse. You're a superstar Mom Cath!!!

  5. Excellent words. I laughed when I read about your efforts to prevent certain fecal disaster in the morning.

  6. I'm thrilled to have found your blog, Cathrine! I'm smack in the middle of my BYU finals, and your post gave me a much needed dose of perspective. Comparably, I'm on easy street with only one person to look out for and lots of down time. It's nice. But, somehow, reading your blog makes me look forward to the hectic-but-infinitely-rewarding days of motherhood. You write wonderfully!


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