August 25, 2009

Tomatoes in August

My mom said the other day that she thinks this is probably the most stressful, difficult time in my WHOLE PARENTING EXPERIENCE. I wanted to correct her---to say, "No, the time with newborn twins must have been harder" or "No, the time with 2-year-old twins and a newborn must have been harder," but instead I said, "The other day I was watching a thunderstorm and had my usual paranoid fear that the lightning would somehow strike me THROUGH THE WINDOW, but instead of feeling my heart pound as I imagined my funeral and my sad children gazing at the very few photos of me I took in the mirror since no one ever takes pictures except me, my first thought was 'Oh, that would be such a RELIEF.'" Then I laughed merrily.

Dudes. There are days I HIDE IN THE BATHROOM. And I don't mean I lock the door while I pee, I mean I LIE DOWN ON THE NICE COOL FLOOR and THINK ABOUT THE LOVELY, LOVELY LOCK.

Isn't it terribly, terribly frustrating and discouraging to hear how much we'll long for these days later on? And I can SEE it: I can see their sweet faces and hear their sweet funny voices and totally know how much I'll miss them later on. But short of BOTTLING IT, I am not able to appreciate it all now. It's like trying to appreciate summer tomatoes: it is all well and good to say you'll miss them come January, but that doesn't mean you can eat ten tomatoes a day in August.

69 comments:

Shannon said...

I could have written this myself. I feel the exact same way and after the day is over, I think about how I should be enjoying and rejoicing in their kidness and taking in every moment.And yet, the next day is always the same. This summer has been tough.

melissa said...

Since we are DROWNING in summer tomatoes right now and there are just so many we can't seem to find enough good uses for them, I TOTALLY understand your analogy.

Since I got spit on, kicked, told "NO!" more times than I care to count and got to wipe several poopy butts today, I totally hear you regarding the lightning too.

Parenthood is hard!

Jenni said...

yes, to all of it. yes.

coffee stained laura said...

Amen.
I find myself looking at, and enjoying pictures and videos of my kids than I do spending time actually enjoying them in person... now that's f'd.

donna said...

I know! Everyone says that. And I know it will be true. Because it's already true that I really miss the newborn days, up in the middle of the night nursing and I never would have believed back then that I'd miss that one day.

But it's impossible to not be so frustrated in the moment.

I hide in the bathroom too and I only have one kid.

Chrissy said...

I could not possibly agree more. You nailed it.

Michelle said...

Yes. Exactly. And I only have one child.

Omaha Mama said...

Great analogy. I guess by recognizing that I SHOULD ALWAYS enjoy this time, it helps with the guilt a little.
I hope you intended to be a little funny here. Because you were. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. I realized I had reached another breaking point the other night when I BAWLED through half of the Hannah Montana movie and knew darn well it wasn't the movie.

Omaha Mama said...

And yes, I was quoting Steel Magnolias there. I don't really like laughter through TEARS that much. There are several emotions I prefer much more!

C @ Kid Things said...

So true. So absolutely true.

Angella said...

Best. Analogy. Ever.

You hit it, Swistle.

Hillary said...

Depending on the size of the tomatoes, I probably could eat 10 a day ....

But I see your point. Children are HARD.

Dr. Maureen said...

BRILLIANT analogy, especially as I just sent Andrew over to the neighbors with several tomatoes because we are growing them, my in-laws brought some over, and we just got some with the farm share. I like fresh tomatoes as much as the next person, but, damn.

mom huebert said...

Yes, when my kids were little and I was caring for children day in and day night with no respite, I used to tell my husband that I loved pizza, but not every day, for every meal, for years on end.

Shelly Overlook said...

I love this analogy. Now I suggest "Tomatoes in August" is the new, kid-safe Mommy catch phrase to use when you are at your wit's end, ready to lock the door and flee, not caring who you leave behind. It can be a code to use from friend-to-friend. If my friend calls and says "tomatoes in August" I know she needs a rescue of some sort from me. Or, if you are having a similar experience, you can reply "Snowballs in January."

Lizzie said...

HEAR, HEAR! *raises margarita glass*

desperate housewife said...

There is a point in almost every day when I think how it is so UNFAIR and frustrating that I KNOW I will someday be kicking myself for not being sweeter and more patient and in the moment, soaking up all their childhood, and yet it is literally IMPOSSIBLE so very often.

d e v a n said...

Yes! YES!!
I actually STRESS over the fact that I cannot possibly enjoy it enough because I know someday I'll miss it. And yet, I can't sometimes.
The tomato analogy is perfect. *sigh*

Whimsy said...

A thousand times yes.

And is it terribly wrong that I LAUGHED even as I wanted to CRY with the truth of it?

You're wonderful. Now go back to your bathroom floor.

Mama Bub said...

When I was pregnant and sick and miserable, so many people would say, "But there's a BABY at the end of all of this." Of course there's a silver lining, but 24 hour a day nausea is defeating, no matter the reward.

As usual Swistle, you're in my brain, saying things I could never put in words.

beyond said...

can i say "very true" even though i have no children?
probably not, but some days can feel like that.

Bethtastic said...

The next person who tells me how much I should "cherish these moments because they pass so quickly"...while I'm tending to a stubborn 4 year old and a complainy 2 year old...well, I'm going to punch them in the face.

Or maybe just fill their car with tomatoes.

Most days, I can't even imagine I'll miss this. At all.

Damn tomatoes.

Hotch Potchery said...

I am empty nesting as I type. I do NOT miss it---I love my kids, and I see/talk/text them everyday, but I only go in the bathroom for bathroom needs now!!

Sundry said...

This is one of the many things you've written that is SO INSANELY BRILLIANT I feel I'd like to hang it—framed and possibly illuminated with one of those art-illuminating spotlight things—on a wall in my house somewhere.

Mimi said...

So true. So very, very, very true.

Steph said...

Oh, yes. Just yes. Why does it have to be that way?

shriek house said...

YES. My god, yes.

Natalie said...

Well, it's too hot in Hades (AZ) to have tomatoes right now, but your analogy is spot on.

My son is going through a particularly wonderful stage where I can laugh at his idiosyncrasies instead of cry and I'm holding onto this stage for dear life, let me tell you, because there were days where I was ready to declare myself the worst mother in the world for actually WALKING outside the door and holding it shut so he couldn't open it and scream and bite and kick (and whatever else) some more.

In short: I think I get it.

Kelly said...

Oh my God, AMEN! thanks for posting this. I struggle with guilt for not soaking up my kids' summer tomato-ness often. Since i was laid off in March and have been at home full time, its feels incumbent upon me...mostly because people are alllllways telling me how precious this time is. I assume they mean being at home with my maddening children, and not the fact that financially I'm terrified. terror ain't so precious. Anyway, yeah. I hate the guilt.

There are no locks on our doors...stupid 50 year old house with porcelain doorknobs. Well one of the knobs broke off so we had to replace it. Mercifully it was our bedroom. I've never experienced this before (even our bathrooms have pocket doors that could lock but...eh.) I locked the door to make some insurance phone calls and the kids wailed and pounded on it as though I'd walked through a doorway to another country. It was awesome. I highly recommend locking yourself in a room occasionally. =D

great post. thanks!

and bethtastic...YES! amen sister! me too!

The Gori Wife said...

I really hate this, especially with the all-consuming guilt that because I didn't ENJOY and RELISH and USE every opportunity of my son's life, I will be beating myself up later (slash now) because these were the best years and I WASTED them.

Also, I used to lay on the bathroom floor when I was a teenager and my father would wake me up super early for school. (Prep time versus sleep will also result in me picking sleep.) MANY people I've told that to think that laying down on the bathroom floor is weird or gross. I'm glad to have met a fellow bathroom floor layer; as I occasionally still do it from time to time...

Kathy said...

That! Yes. Exactly. And I happen to like tomatoes.

And to a lesser extent, children.

Cyn said...

Dude, you GET my life. Everyone who knows me but doesn't have to live my life thinks that having twins, even with the few family and friends over 900 miles away, is a fiesta. (I say terrible 2 times 2 isn't exactly all that.)

But the cool freshness of the bathroom floor was kind of spoiled for me after a bad stomach flu (as opposed to the good ones) a few months ago.

So now all I can think about whenever I drive past the Holiday Inn Express next to our town's Walmart is how much I want to check in for a nice weekend with me and ... nope, that's it. Me. No kids. No DH. (Sorry sweetie, but I haven't had a day of rest in more than three years.)

Did I say that you GET ME?

Cookie said...

This is exactly it. I adore my babies and I adore watching them grow and learn. And yet there are some days (or mornings) when I desperately just want to hit fast forward. Small children are just so exhausting. And I only have two! I don't know how you do it with five.

Cherish said...

Agreed. I long for the days when I only had one or two, but I think it was the exact same then.

Erin said...

The tomato analogy is PERFECT.

Nowheymama said...

Beautiful.

Lisa said...

omg, YES. I have 3 kids under 4, the oldest of whom is going through a "bundle of rage" phase. My fondest dream is to spend an hour (or five) ALONE at Barnes and Noble with a nice beverage, pastry, and romance novel.

Ms. Flusterate said...

SO TRUE!

And I feel justified at this point in my life with 4 teenagers and a preteen that NO ONE says to enjoy the kids because you'll miss those fun teenage years!

So, I feel like...YES, this teenage era does suck and it's universally agreed that is does.

Katie said...

AMEN! YES! I will hear my kids' voices when someone else is watching them (very rarely happens) and I am just struck by how cute they are now and how I'm going to forget these moments and wish for them back. But then, two seconds later I'm planning how I can run away from home....because I cannot take one.more.second. of them! Too much of a good thing.

I would be a GREAT mom if I had more breaks. A lot more breaks.

Celeste said...

Well that pretty much sums up motherhood! It's relentless and then it's over.

Every mother needs that cool tile bathroom floor sometimes.

Thia said...

I'm in a panic. When we looked at this new house to rent, I forgot to look and see if the bathroom has a lock on the door. I want to cry. Please tell me it has a lock. I love my bathroom door lock. I do not exaggerate.
I will be linking this post b/c it's perfect.

heather said...

Exactly. Gah. That's it exactly.

Sarah said...

This is totally right. I pay a student $10/ hr to come and hang with the kids while I do other stuff in the house for a few hours a week and it is such a relief to have it and look forward to it.

bluedaisy said...

I was very glad to read your post this morning...we had one heck of a morning & this was good for reminding me to keep things in perspective. My husband and I often talk about how we'll long for these days where one wants to sleep in our bed all night and the other wants to snuggle despite the 90 degree heat. The stormy toddler/preschooler moods make it hard to see at times but this is SO true!

Amanda said...

Yes. Just yes.

Jess said...

You have such a knack for analogy. Here's hoping the tomato famine comes soon. But not too soon?

Marie Green said...

Oh, man, Swistle. WORD. I was writing a post like this when I clicked over and read this one. We have twin posts today. =)

Also, you we can save tomatoes for January- in jars of tomato sauce or salsa or whatev.

Couldn't I can my children too, to pull out and savor later? To put on a shelf for awhile, where they would QUIETLY WAIT until I was craving them?

Miss Grace said...

I lock myself in the bathroom sometimes. I have *one* kid.

Joanne said...

What if you only thought you liked tomatoes? Then winter comes and you are still forced to eat those bad, vile winter tomatoes even though it turns out you don't like them so much. Ugh. I am so happy you posted this, it means a lot to know that others feel similarly, especially when it seems like everyone in the world is telling you how great it all is and you just know it's not. It's maddening.

Amanda said...

It's so damn hard. I know that I need to enjoy and savor every moment and everything about being a mommy to a young child....but that creates so much guilt when I want a few minutes to myself or get frustrated or need to get things done around the house and CAN'T or whatever else. Yeah.

g~ said...

And *this* is why I read you (among other reasons) because any way that I would phrase this would sound whiney and cynical but you manage to communicate it perfectly.

cndymkr / jean said...

Amen. and this is why my son is spending the day with my mother.

annenahm said...

This. Exactly this.

Leah Rubin said...

Sweetie, you are wise beyond your years. Hang in there, and take those tomatoes in moderation. It's really for the best.

Sarah said...

BRILLIANT! I'm with Sundry. I would love to just print this out and frame it on my wall.

Kelsey said...

This is brilliant and perfect! I'm saving it to pull out on those days (approximately nine out of ten) when I feel these children will drive me right out of my mind and I want to be whisked away to live on the moon or something.

Kate @ Life As I Live It said...

Yes, yes, YES! Some days I feel like I am stuck on a sickening carnival ride that is hurtling around and around, making me queasy and desperate to get off, yet everyone else is laughing and having a great time, and here I am trying not to cry and wishing it to stop. Other days, the ride is lovely and entertaining and totally enjoyable. But man, those out of control days make me want to leave the carnival altogether sometimes.

"The days are long, but the years are short." ~Unknown

SIL said...

I love this. It IS terribly frustrating.

Your brother has said he wishes we could go back and forth through time, so we'd be able to enjoy the baby we have now later in life, in a way we can't today.

Bevo said...

Katie "The Yap" 's mom here - she recommended your blog. Here's my cliche-ridden 2 cent's worth:

You are in the trenches of the most challenging job ever, you don't get enough breaks, you can't come home from work and veg out... I almost hate to say this because it sounds SO trite and so NOT "in the moment," but the BEST is yet to come. Hang in there! Take videos of your kids to enjoy later - when you look back, you tend to forget the bad stuff. Don't fear getting older. BUT, most significantly, your job right now is the most profoundly important you will EVER have. You are giving it your best shot which is all you can do - perfection is a myth - shit happens. Let stuff go if you can! Keep writing and hang out with friends. Oh, and good job throwing away the crap...

PS Love your SIL's time-travel concept!

Bevo said...

More:

I'm 61 years old - mother of 3 - I love my kids (and grandkids) with a passion. I do not know a single woman my age who is "longing" for the days when her children were little. Who says that, anyhow?

Bevo said...

More... I'm being a freak about this, but I can't get your post out of my mind - what you say is so important.

I wouldn't do anything differently. I stayed home with my kids as long as I could and enjoyed much in every stage of their development. But, I paid my dues, and am relieved to have them independent. Moms my age get to enjoy the fruits of their labors!

Kelly said...

You are so effing right. I was talking with a friend today about the fact that I was sooooo done with summer. Done with full-time parenting.

In fact I'm hiding right now, on the computer.

Sally said...

TRU DAT.

OMG, Swistle, you are so right on, but I still wish I could give myself a break by acknowledging that it is NOT all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns without the guilt. I certainly don't blame any of you for your moments of frustration and discouragement, but me . . .

Maybe you can forgive me my parental shortcomings and I'll forgive you for yours.

the new girl said...

This is a classic Swistle post and I love it.

Astarte said...

Ayup. I sometimes wonder if that's what it's like to be old, too, like how everyone says that the person was just Tired when they die. As I get older, and think about getting Old and whatnot, I can't help but think that at least it will be QUIET. Seriously, by the time the kids leave the house, I will have listened to countless hours of Josie pounding on the piano, presumably the phone ringing off the effing hook, and who knows how much general ruckus. I might miss it, but then again, maybe I WON'T!

Anonymous said...

yes..perfect analogy. and i love the idea of canning my kids so i can enjoy when ready! and it's so hard to listen to my working friends and husband complain about their jobs too. i totally understand, but in a way i want to scream...did you get to take a 15 min break? have an uninterrupted phone call? have the option to call in sick if you are? finish one god forsaken thing? or, best yet..LEAVE AFTER LESS THAN 18 HOURS???? well that sounds magical to me!

Sarah said...

It's so, so true.

It's like how sometimes a vacation is so much better in retrospect. Of course, you're glad for the memories, but you're also glad not to be stuck on a boat in damp, rainy weather with a cranky, tired baby.

Christy said...

Yes! Nice to know I'm not drowning alone.

Going Goofy said...

It does get better, they grow up, I love my "babies" but I don't want to go back to the little years. Great post!