Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

June 12, 2011

Life, Interrupted

When I was pregnant, several people shared some sentiment about “changing your life to fit the baby, versus making the baby fit into your life.” The implication was that – if you managed things correctly – you’d carry right on with the world, your go-with-the-flow baby in tow.

In theory, that made great sense to me. I was very happy with who I was, and I was eager to share that with my children.

But maybe that theory is part of why I was so completely shell-shocked when the girls were born. And I couldn’t help but think that all the people who said that to me never had multiples!

I went from working 60-hour weeks, my off time spent eating out and watching TV and napping and shopping and cooking leisurely…to feeding babies ‘round the clock, my off time spent doing laundry and washing dishes and occasionally trying to sleep.

Of course I knew my life would change drastically when the girls were born, but I couldn’t have anticipated the full magnitude of that change.

And even more, I never would have imagined how much of a “production” it seemed like every action was.

Particularly because I was such a schedule hound, there was very little go-with-the-flow when it came to feedings…and what else do you do with infants?

I was deathly afraid of two things…one, that our girls would somehow become out of sync with each other’s schedules…and two, that our girls would somehow mix up their days and their nights. That fear kept me on the straight and narrow, for sure.

And then, when the girls weren’t being fed, I really had to muster my stamina to do anything else.

The example I always cite is needing to buy some stamps. With one baby, I envision that you’d swing the carrier over your arm and zip into the post office. Sure, it wouldn’t be as quick as if you were alone, but it would still be relatively easy, right?

With two babies, there would most certainly be a stroller involved, and I’d have to be able to negotiate any bumps in the sidewalk and non-automatic doors. It’s still doable…but I probably wouldn’t go to the hassle just for a book of stamps!

Between the near-constant demands and the failed expectation that the babies should just fit into our lives, I started to feel smothered, and far over-burdened.

But then one day, I tried to think of that adage in a larger context.

Sure, I had made major, MAJOR changes to almost every aspect of my life…but I was still “me”, wasn’t I?

When I remembered to try to define my life and myself less by my leisure, and more by what makes me happy, things started to click a little better. In addition to my girls – which are undeniably the center of my world…and I’m OK with that – I found new ways to realize these joys.

And as the girls have gotten older, I’ve been able to file a few more “old world” pleasures in now and again, which I appreciate in their infrequency far more than I ever did when manicures were a dime a dozen.

Couple this with things starting to actually get easier – at least in terms of “schedules” and “major motion picture productions” (think impromptu dinner out last week!) – and I feel like “my” world and “our” world are starting to become one.

My experience over the past two and a half years wouldn’t lead me to completely dismiss the idea of “incorporating” your children into your life, but maybe underscore the idea of “to everything there is a season”.

…linking up with the Parenting Myths Question of the Week at Multiples & More!


Holly Ann said...

Oh, how I empathize with this post! Very well said. :)

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Oh Mandy, this may be one of my favourite posts of yours, after that kitchen OCD post :)

I was just thinking about this very topic this morning as I was getting dressed and then I get to work and here you've written about it.

I need to write about this tonight.

Really fantastic post and a question for you - when did you start to feel you can do things for you again?

Julia said...

As a fellow mama who lives and dies by her schedule, I can completely relate to this!

Having children is completely dying to yourself, isn't it? Before the girls came, I knew that in my head, but nothing, NOTHING prepared me for what that would mean for my life. I was basically chopped liver--they and their needs were all that mattered :) Of course, this was what I'd wanted for so long---a family, children, right?! :)

I, too, needed to shift my thinking. Defining my world by my blessings---the things that bring joy to my life. Sometimes I had to search for the little things.

I love to hear that "your" world is becoming "our" world. I've seen a few glimpses of that with our girls, and am excited, because I know it will just get better and better.

Great post, Mandy!

April said...

Wow. I was worried that someone was going to stop breathing overnight!! Heck--im still worried about that, but not on a nightly basis anymore!! I do remember that I decided early on that I needed to only listen to advice from people who had multiples...the other people who had not experienced it couldn't possibly imagine what raising more than one infant at a time was like. For the record, you seem to be doing great :)

April/strongblonde :)

Mandy said...

Oh has this got me thinking!

I really think "losing" my world while on bedrest left me with no schedule to bring them into. Which, in turn, allowed me to easily acclimate back into the real world. Once we were all from the hospital we just started from scratch so I didn't feel that much was lost.

I did make sure they didn't run things, but I am starting to lose that battle. I can tell you that we eat out, a lot, more than I'd like to admit. In fact, while waiting for Emma to be discharged from NICU, Claire got her first peek at Red Robin. Claire actually ate out a lot her only week as an only child! There was just no time to cook going back and forth to the hospital and there was no one to help. So as a result, the girls have always gone with us where ever we went. I think that makes me your opposite, but I still kept to the schedule! We NEVER stray from the schedule, regardless of location!

I totally carried two infant carriers through a parking garage and through a hospital for my 6 week check-up! I hated the stroller then and I still do today!

Miss Megan said...

Love the post and can relate to every.single.thing. HA! I need to post about this too! Well, this and how it is somehow normal to talk about poop on a regular basis. . .something I never would have done before having children - LOL!

Andrea said...

Great post Mandy and so very true! I had the same thing said to me mutliple times....still do in fact. I never started out thinking I would let my children run my life, in which they don't. But they make a huge impact on how I lead it. I wouldn't have it any other way, but if you want to tell me different I will call you crazy!

Barbara Manatee said...

We waited to have kids for about 5 years after we got married. It allowed us some time to be "us" and ourselves before we had to adjust our lifestyle due to a family. I definitely made it to happy hour on a regular basis, shopped more, traveled more, slept in more, etc...but I knew that when I had kids, I was ready for whatever changes it brought me.

Yes, there are times when I miss my 'old life' - (who doesn't wish for more time with friends or the chance to shop by yourself...) but I also wouldn't trade it for the life we've made with our children.

I know these years when they are young are harder - I feel more guilt when I'm away after working - and I'm sure that feeling will lessen as they get older - as will the need to be home with them all the time - but I know it will all balance back out again some day. Until then...I am trying to soak it all up and love the life we have!

cat said...

I have the good fortune to have had a singleton experience before we had the twins and yes, indeed, the impact of multiples is so much more. While the Princess changed our lives and schedules, we still managed to get out etc. The twins managed to end most of that - just the sheer overwhelming bit.

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

You hit the nail on the head with the post office thing. It sounds like the easiest thing in the world, but is really the most difficult!!!

That's why supermarkets that carry stamps are very handy!

It is getting easier though...thank God!

Dolli-Mama said...

This is so true. The stamps example is so right on. It's doable, but it would take a stroller, some snacks, a toy and 45 minutes just to buy a book of stamps!
It's the production thing that gets me. But I still take my kids out to lunch about once a week. We meet someone (my mom or a friend) and have to leave a big tip or go to McDonalds, but it worth it!