September 10, 2007

This Can't Be Done, This Can't Be Done, This Can't Be Done

Mayday, mayday! Send backup! This sucks!

All summer, I said I thought things might actually be harder when the boys went back to school, but I didn't mean it. I was saying it like I could say things might actually be worse once I lost weight (saggy skin, over-amorous husband, needing to come up with money for new clothes, etc.): sure, there'd be downsides, but obviously it would be better overall. But NO! It actually IS worse. WORSE! To have FEWER children!

The mornings last FOREVER. I feel like I'm running a daycare. Somebody's always crying or whining. Nobody can be left for TWO SECONDS without there being permanent marker on the furniture. I get to my absolute limit of the boredom-frustration cocktail--and I look at the clock, and it is 9:00 a.m.

AND, I am trying to keep up with the exercise thing, but I'm about to lose my mind trying to fit it in. And while I'm doing the workout DVD, the twins are yelling and Henry is blowing out of his diaper and the cat is meowing to go out and FOR THE LOVE OF PETE CAN'T I HAVE TWO SECONDS HERE TO DO SOMETHING I HATE??? Like that.

But I've been wondering: Why IS this so difficult? It was not this difficult when the twins were born, and Henry is a nice easy baby as babies go. I have given this a lot of thought in the long, long hours of the workday and worknight, and here is my conclusion: there is something magically difficult-licious about the combination of toddler and infant.

This would explain why I remember the days of Toddler Rob and Infant William as a time of chanting "This can't be done, this can't be done, this can't be done,"--but I don't feel that way about the days when I had double the number of children, two of whom were newborns. Because when the twins were born, I had a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, not toddlers. They were old enough to understand and follow instructions. The 6-year-old could make cereal or sandwiches. They could both take showers. They could both get themselves dressed and undressed. Neither of them spent much time crying, or shouting things I couldn't interpret, or asking for what? what? oh my freaking stars above, WHAT DO YOU WANT???

I am re-thinking my views on baby spacing. I have been thinking all along that the "Toddler Rob and Infant William" time was difficult because it was hard to go from one child to two. I still do think that was a big part of it--but now I am thinking another big part was some sort of nasty chemical reaction caused by combining toddler and infant. In my experience, a close spacing pays off later--but it is not "later" yet, and the comparative joy of the wider spacing is still fresh in my mind.

37 comments:

Jen4 @ Amazing Trips said...

Shhh .... don't tell anyone I told you this, but when in a pinch for some ME time, TV is my best friend. I'll stick in a Baby Einstein video, or better yet ... the movie Dumbo because it lasts for a little over an hour (as opposed to B.E. that only last 28 minutes. Why couldn't these be 2 hours?!)

I'll also give the kids a bowl of water to splash around in. That always keeps them occupied for a good hour or more. Last but not least, I'll pull the cushions off the sofa and let them have their own version of couch Olympics. Once the triplets are entertained, Henry is content sitting in a bouncy with his pacifier. If all else fails, sit them down with a tray of brownies and a can of whip cream.

This CAN be done. It HAS to be done. That's what I keep telling myself....

jen said...

I was just having a morning where the children talking to me was like daggers in my ears. I'd keep trying to interject to tell them to please be quiet (SHUT UP ALREADY!) but I couldn't.. and the more they talked the more I couldn't handle it. It was just totally interrupting my brain waves.

Oddly I didn't think infant + toddler was hard, but my girl was easy until she suddenly turned into an ogre 3 months ago.

Now, infant just seems like a consolation prize after these two. On the upside, the are both independent and can do a lot of things for themselves. How many 6 year olds do you know who can make a sandwich?

Oh I am not trying to be one of those "pfft, it's not that hard!" types at all. I am just having more 'NNGHHHH!!!!!' moments now that I'm at this stage of pregnancy and the children fight, hit each other, do non-sweet things to each other. No one ever complains about that so clearly I must be a horrible person. Something I'm doing must be making them act like this, right? hmph.

I think you should just change it to "being alone in a building with small children is enough to make you stab your eyeball out."

(the shock of that might shut them up for a moment.)

LoriD said...

When I took the older two to a home daycare, I always wondered how the caregiver survived and always seemed so calm and organized while caring for 3x 3 year olds (one of them her own), 2x 2 year olds and 1x one year old. When I was home, I couldn't manage to get anything done and would go crazy with the whining, cying and neeeeeding.

One day, I figured it out... that's ALL she was doing. She wasn't trying to fit in a workout or cleaning out a closet or running loads of laundry or mopping the kitchen floor. She was just looking after these 6 little kids in one room that was no more than 250 square feet. She changed diapers at the same times everyday, went outside at the time, read stories and had naps at the same time. While they napped, she prepared the crafts, lunch and snacks for the next day.

It's so hard to do when you're at home, because you *feel* like you're home all day, so you should be able to fit in some extra time. Unless you can get them all to nap at the same time, I don't know how you would do it.

Jess said...

At least Henry is an easy baby. Imagine if he were a difficult baby AND you had two toddlers to contend with simultaneously.

Also, it is really impressive how hard you are working at fitting in your exercising given that you have so much other stuff going on. I don't have any kids to take care of and I can still barely find the time to do my twenty minutes of hell three times a week. You are doing great.

Sundry said...

*sobs quietly in the corner*

Erica said...

Dear Jebus, thank you for my ONE baby. Love, Erica

Swistle, you can do this. Why, you're practically a professional! I know it's sucky right now, but every day, Henry and the twins get a little older and a little less needy.

It's weird how the months fly by with babies but the individual days last FOREVER.

Tessie said...

Damn, I'm with Sundry. Panic. PANIC!!!! Though, unlike her, I guess there is still time for a last-minute jerk-the-wheel-near-miss for me. Do you think you'll be publishing a retraction?

Black Sheeped said...

And to think this morning I was annoyed enough I wanted to tape the cat's mouth shut (just...kidding!). And that was all it was, just the cat. No children. Obviously I have no helpful ideas or thoughts, but I'm sorry it's so frustrating.

Erin said...

Wow. This is SO EXACTLY relevant to my life right now. I am having a HARD time here. Your comment at my blog, and this post, make me feel like, "yes, okay. It is hard. It's not just me." So thanks for that.

I have to say though, I have TWO, and you have THREE. At my bad times, I find myself thinking, "Swistle has a whole other toddler in the mix. Get it together, Erin." Ugh. Some days I just want to put them both in a safe spot and disappear to the basement for ten minutes. Would that be so bad?

Swistle said...

Jen (never melts Jen)- I know, and in fact as soon as the boys DO come home from school, I'm wondering what the hell I meant about it being easier having them home. The bickering! The hitting! The yelling! The tattling! But at least they can do chores and/or be sent to their rooms. Still, I like your revised version about eyeball-stabbing, and I think "interrupting my brain waves" is EXCEEDINGLY WELL-PUT.

Sundry & Tessie- See comment to Jen: it's actually that ALL spacings and ages are intolerable! There! Don't you feel better?

Black Sheeped- I nearly looked into voiceboxectomy for one of my cats. In his senile, I mean senior years, he's taken to meowing and Meowing and MEOWING.

Erin- At least two toddlers can play together. In theory. Also, I go down "to cycle the laundry" and don't reappear for, like, 15 minutes.

Alice said...

i.. um... have nothing useful to add here. except that i am in awe of ALL OF YOU HERE with multiple kids. ha, even those of you with one kid. i have.. uh.. a kitten. MY LIFE = SO HARD.

nowheymama said...

Oh, dear. Time for me to go join Sundry in the corner.

Marie Green said...

Swistle- you have THREE children under age two. THREE. In some states, daycares wouldn't allow that adult:child ratio. So man, wow. I hope you can see what a wonderful job you are doing, even though it feels like you are sinking!

And, if it helps, I found that my life with twins turned around SO MUCH shortly after they turned 2. Suddenly, the "playing together in theory" became "for real: playing together!!!"

Also, it won't be long before Henry can spend more time entertaining himself. He is at that age (for me anyway) that is pretty labor intesive: no longer sleeping so much, but not able to DO anything. For us, by 6-8 months, when the babes could play a bit, and get interested in stuff for more than .005 seconds, things became easier.

So! Summary: this is the hardest stretch. At least, this is MY mantra, when things are hard.

Shannon said...

Darsie starts preschool next weekend and I couldn't be more thrilled. I might actually get things DONE!!!!!

Swistle said...

Marie- In my "mom 'n' baby" class when Rob was an infant, the instructor told us that a lot of people get pregnant when the baby is 7-8 months, because it's so pleasant and easy. And indeed! You're totally right about the stages, and these are a couple of my least favorites: the "old enough to want everything a certain way but not old enough to communicate effectively" stage combined with the "old enough to be bored but not old enough to do anything about it" stage. AAAAAAAG.

Farrell said...

I should give you my friend Melissa's #. She has three under three.
Though if it makes you feel any better? You just made MY HELL Night and morning of child SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER OMIG IS THERE A KILLER BACK THERE SAWING HER IN HALF because that's what it sounded like all. the. way. to. school. seem well, not so bad. so: thanks:)

Misty said...

Well, you just made a decision for me. Emphatically no more babies until Ian can make his own sandwich.

Melissa H said...

Ok, I desperately need feedback on the concept of kids 3ish years apart (before I do something I regret ;) My "Baby" will be two shortly and I have a newborn niece who is putting the ovaries in overdrive. (is that ovarydrive? ha!)

Swistle said...

Melissa- I think of a 3-year spacing as IDEAL. But--I have no 3-year spacings in my own family, so I don't know. But I'll say this: I'd like to have one more baby, and if I CAN and if I can CHOOSE the spacing, I would choose 3ish years.

Devan said...

I knew it. Toddler and newborn combination IS difficult.
I still think twins would be hard, but what do I know? I've never had them...

Jess said...

I saw Melissa's questions and had to add my $.02--I don't have kids so I can't answer from the parenting angle, but from the kid angle, my sister and I are three years apart and it is and pretty much always has been the perfect distance. And actually, I remember my mom talking about how helpful my sister always liked to be with me when I was a baby. Granted, she was three, so I doubt she was that helpful, but I think three years is a great amount of space between siblings.

Bunny said...

Oh, Swistle, you have hit the nail on the head! You have deciphered the mystery as to why I feel like crap all the time. Toddler and infant is SO HARD. Mine are getting easier now that it's more like toddler and younger toddler, but you are exactly right. We will get through this!

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

GAAAH! I have been here Swistle, and I feel your pain. Eddie is 19 months older than Caitlyn....and I could not even begin to imagine what it would have been like with two 2-year-olds.

But you will get through it, of this I am sure.

Giselle said...

My first two are 3 years apart...and it has been cake. Easy as eating a big friggin' cake. I would HIGHLY recommend it.

But I am now expecting a "surprise"...and it is coming when my #2 is only 18 months old. And this post just confirms my every fear that has been keeping me up all night...that my life is about to become living hell. Joy.

melissa said...

MY GAWD woman! I am already stressed enough about having my two 23 months apart (assuming Number-o Two arrives on time) and "This Can't Be Done!" is not the reassurance I need. Yikes.

Devan said...

What are your thoughts on 3 year old, one year old and infant?

Jen said...

This is so my house, my life, my FRUSTRATION right now! I thought it would be great (in the long run) to have kids so close together. So we did. And NOW, now life sucks a good portion of the time! I fear that by the time the oldest one is out of toddler tantrumdom (it does end, right?), the youngest will enter and take her place. And then someone might get hurt. I feel your pain, Swistle!

Oh, and to echo amazing trips' comment: water is wonderful for a distraction! I take Kate outside (she'll be 2 next week) and turn on the hose ever-so-slightly. She plays in the water forever, and loves it. And then I get some peace.

jen said...

HEY. Is Devan trying to tell us something?

JMH said...

Sorry to everyone, but the year I had a newborn and a 3 year old was HELL ON EARTH. It sucked. All I remember is being sooo tired all the time. I hardly even remember my son as a baby. However, now the 3 year spacing is great and my kids get along very well. Hang in there! (and eat many pans of brownies :)

AndreAnna said...

I'm honestly too afraid to read the comments because I want another baby soon and my daughter is 16 months old and I'm afraid I will be scared into menopause, or that my uterus will just shrivel and fall out from fear.

Swistle said...

Oh, Giselle, let's not say "living hell." Let's call it "Sunny with a chance of hellshowers." MOSTLY things are going fine. But when they DON'T, it is helpful to vent about it. And I have hopes for the future! And surprise pregnancies are Very Exciting!

Melissa- Well, perhaps this will be more reassuring: I had the "this can't be done" situation before--and I went on to deliberately have more children. So it isn't TRULY undoable, and it must get better! There! How's that for some sunshine!

Devan- My thoughts are that I'm going to be checking your blog REGULARLY for NEWS.

JMH- Well, shoot, there goes that hope.

Banal Drivel said...

um, Oh I hear you. My 2 are 19 months apart and I keep telling myself, 2 more years, 2 more years...

Jess said...

My fifteen month old can't talk (unless "gog" is code for a million things that I can't understand) and whines whenever she "needs" something. No no, not whines and points. Just whines. My 9 week old has colic. What in the name of God's green earth was I thinking.

Kelli in the Mirror said...

Yes. It is all difficult. lorid's comment hit me- I am a home daycare. I have nine kids right now, two of them mine. And I feel immense pressure to still have the kitchen cleaned up and everything looking nice in addition to all the kidlet stuff I do all day. It's very near impossible. (the housework part. the kid part is working well so far, but it's MUCH easier to take of somebody else's kids than your own.)

But I do have 3 1/2 year spacing on my two kids, which is working nicely, i will say.

Katie said...

Girl, I do not even know what you must be going through, because I feel like that at nine a.m. with just ONE kid. I'm a kid wimp. I can't take them. I feel for you from the deepest corners of my dark little soul....

Melissa H said...

Hey, thanks everyone! I read a few "3 years is perfect" comments and then I closed my eyes and didn't read anymore and now I'm feeling very good about my planning (well, at least as much as you can 'plan' things like pregnancy)