March 31, 2011

On Crashing and Burning... literally

DD in M's shoes
Last night was, to put it mildly, very rough.  Ever since SI's illness, or Grandma's visit, or whatever it was, the girls absolutely will not self-soothe.  They will not put themselves to sleep peacefully.  Not for a nap, not for the night.  Yes, I appreciate all of your comments that this is a phase and that it will pass.  But as you are probably aware, as it's happening that's not too great of a comfort.  It's a question of hoping every night that tonight will be the night.

This is a problem.  Not just for the usual outnumbered-by-unhappy-children reasons, but also because, not being used to this, I am making stupid, stupid mistakes.

For example, as a general rule, as soon as I close the nursery door, I'm basically done being Mommy for the night.  I can, say, make myself a meal.  Or a cup of tea.  Or study.  Or watch some 30 Rock.

So, last night, I did what I normally would do.  I put the kettle on, put a pot of artichokes on the stove (an extra special treat!), and began to do my homework.  A few minutes into this lovely routine, the screaming begins.

SI in my shoes
Now, as you might recall, I no longer have a baby monitor.  This isn't usually a problem- we have a plug-in unit that lives in the bedroom, so if something goes wrong while I'm sleeping they'll wake me up.  But the rest of the time, it's just a question of, "Did I hear somebody being miserable?"  As the kitchen is on the complete opposite end of the house from the nursery in our one floor flat, I tend to err on the side of caution.

That said, I definitely heard somebody being miserable.  I went into the nursery, expecting that I would tuck everyone back in, make sure everyone has their own loveys, and then leave again.

So naive.

The moment I close the door behind me, SI starts shrieking as though she has been stabbed.  I stand on the far side of the door for a moment, trying to decide what to do.  I know she's exhausted, she didn't nap well.  But I also know she can scream for ALL OF TIME if she decides that it's in order to do so.  I also knows that, if I snuggle and rock her, it will only take about three minutes to have her out cold.  So, I heave a heavy sigh, and return to the room.  I take her out of the crib, and begin to rock her.  As expected, her eyelids droop and her breathing slows, but she doesn't go to sleep.  I can't blame her.  It would be hard for me to sleep if there was somebody five feet away shouting and laughing and JUMPING ON THE BED as hard as she possible could.
DD hams it up

Yes, DD was screwing me over on this one.

So I finally reach the point where I'm sure that, given some peace and quiet, if I put SI back into her crib she'll sleep peacefully.  I cautiously put her in bed, and pick up DD.  Got to get her to settle down, or my night is going to get mighty long.

DD is elated to be held and rocked.  So happy, in fact, that she must laugh and smile and cover me in kisses.  All well and good, but SI's crib is much closer to the rocking chair.  Directly next to the rocking chair.  So each expression of mirth by DD rouses SI a little more.  I try everything.  I swaddle DD.  That's very funny.  I throw the blanket over her head, despite the fact that it's already very dark.  This is a GREAT game!  She throws the blanket over my head.  I shush and shush her, she makes raspberry sounds.

SI cleans it up
And suddenly, I'm getting a migraine.

And it's not one of those, "I just want to go relax with my cup of tea," sorts of migraines.  No... it's got a new, different sort of flavor.  It's one of those, "This is a toxic environment and I must get out," migraines.  Like I get in the perfume section of department stores.  Like I'm breathing something that isn't supposed to be air.

And then I smell the smoke.

And then I remember that I had dinner on the stove at the opposite end of the house, the hour ago that I entered this nursery that is starting to bear a strong resemblance to Hell.

I literally throw DD back into her crib, and go running across the house at top speed.  My beautiful, beautiful artichokes- my talismans of Spring and the husbandry of my own psyche- they are on fire.  All of the water has evaporated, and the poor tin steaming tray upon which they rest... it is blackened and sooty.

The smoke smells vaguely cemeterial.  And I start to go blind.

DD eating a Hamantaschen
Not with rage, mind you.  My rage has been tempered quickly by my organ freezing terror.  No, it's just that I get ocular migraines.  I literally go blind from having a headache- and frequently going blind is my first warning that I'm about to be in tremendous pain.  So far, it's only happened while I was driving once.  Never again.  Sometimes I get little windows of vision, but it's not terribly helpful.  The only thing to do is get into a nice, quiet room, and lay down.  Drink a glass of water.  Try a few simple remedies.  The usual headache things.

But, of course, the only room where I can go to lay down and be in pitch blackness is my bedroom... conveniently also the only room with a direct connection to the sounds coming out of the nursery.  Very loud, VERY unhappy sounds.

What do I do instead?  I finish off a bag of Oreos.  That's what a responsible adult does when under extreme duress, right?

I eat a bag of Oreos, I snipe at M when he finally returns from school, I throw away a hard boiled egg that I am completely incapable of peeling, and (of course) I completely fail to finish my homework.  I go to bed early, hungry, in pain, the moment I'm certain that the noises from the nursery are gone for good, and before I can say anything too terribly rude to the wonderful man emptying my dishwasher.  It's all about damage control.

SI hears there are cookies over here
I wake at 6:30, a full two hours before my children usually rise, with the plan to do my homework then.  After all, that gives me three and a half full hours before I leave for class.  Plenty of time to edit my paper, review my notes, read a case study or two.

So, so naive.

DD, who didn't exactly go to bed happy, awakens early- not unusual if she's had a bad night.  She wakes up as early as mother, and remembers immediately that her mother doesn't love her anymore.  The conclusion she must have been reaching while I downed my dunked Oreos without chewing them up first.

And me?  As soon as the sun hits my eyelids I remember that I've got a raging migraine that's trying to kill me.  I take an arsenal of quick dissolving, fact acting prescription drugs, and go to meet my destiny.

The girls, both awake now, helpfully assist me in dressing and changing them.  They give me countless kisses and hugs while I cook them french toast.  And then Our Mary Poppins arrives, and I hit the books.

In the only quiet, child-free room in the house. My bedroom.

Oh Grandma, I wish I could blame you for my woes.
The nice, quiet, comfortable, shady, warm bedroom.  Where I sit in the nice, downy, cozy, comfortable bed...

I awake several minutes into my second of three classes of the day, when the diaper service calls to inform me that our credit card has been declined.

And my migraine?  Yup.  Still there.  Nice and mushy instead of stabby and achey, but still there.

So here I am.  Updating my blog instead of learning about horizontal management and collaboration.  No- that class starts in about two minutes.  Right now I should be learning about American defense policy.  (Note: Now that I've added pictures of my children being extremely adorable- something that always helps me feel better about being a bitter parent- I should in fact be learning about networking and non-hierarchical management.)  But regardless, I'm not going.  I'm listening to Our Mary Poppins go through the drama of nap-time without going to her aid, at a nice, comfortable, quiet distance, and I'm wondering when I'm going to squeeze in the time to do some extra credit to make up for today. 

And I'm really wishing I had a fucking artichoke.


  1. Oh My! What a day. Thank you for reminding me of those days, I haven't been grateful enough lately that they are mostly passed. I'm so glad the artichoke fire didn't get any worse. So sorry about the migraine, that can't be fun with little ones.

  2. I so feel for you. We go through similar night stuff, and live in a teeny house and the girls share a room. So when the little one is crying the big one has to go in our bed or the couch. What I would give for a third room...

    I really enjoy your blog and want an artichoke too!


  3. All I can offer you is hugs. Migraines suck and suck badly when you have to take care of others. I'd have eaten the bag of Oreos too. I hope soon you get your artichoke.

    And for what it's worth, when you're knee deep in a sleepless night, tantrum, teething episode or you just feel like you're losing your marbles, it doesn't help one little bit to hear "it's a phase it will pass" I want to run kicking and screaming when people say that to me. GAAH.

    Here's hoping tonight is a better night for you.

  4. Just stopping by to say "Hi" from M&M Follow Me Friday!

  5. New follower from M&M. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I always hate when people tell me it's just a phase because it's not really helping my situation. ;) Right now, we are tackling toddler beds. Yuck.

  6. New on SocialMoms...and I can relate to your pain (I had a migraine on Tues.earlier this week!). I too am a pt student with about a year left to finish, family with two small gradeschoolers all in a small house! The bedroom becomes my study space with the kitchen being plan B. It's hard to keep sanity with little ones, work and classes! A recipe for a migraine!

  7. visiting from MBC. :) I understand what you were going through as I can relate. And I'm sorry about the headache..

  8. I love your blog, and after reading some of your idyllic current articles, I'm so happy to have stumbled across your 'Toddler Years'! I've got 19 month old twin boys, and some days are just HELL! The other day (while my eyes welled up with tears --WHAT'S up with THAT!?) I told my friend that having twin toddlers is equally joyous and beautiful as it is hellish and exhausting. She didn't really get the scope though. It's like my life is an oxymoron. Equal parts elation and and DOOM. Right when I think all is well and I go to pick up a book or the camera or make some tea, IT happens. Such depths of happiness overshadowed by a biting, screaming, kicking ball of enraged toddler. And I thought this didn't start until two! It's good to hear it gets better though, thanks for the insight. ~ Gillian from Canada



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