Somewhere In The Tunnel… Looking For That Light

I’m going to be honest here… things have been challenging for me lately. I’ve been writing this post for a few weeks now. I’ve been trying to articulate how I feel, but it has been hard to capture into words. And I don’t think I’m quite there yet but here goes…

It’s not the baby that’s challenging me. No, he is as sweet as pie.

Living every week like Shark Week.

In fact, I feel bad about how challenged I’ve been feeling because Evan is truly the easiest baby in the world. He eats, he smiles, he sleeps. Repeat (with some diaper changes in there somewhere).

No, the challenge is ME.

You know that feeling when you finish a really good book or you binge watch a really good TV show (ahem Orange Is The New Black lovers – you know what I’m talking about). That’s kind of how I feel right now. About life.

Returning to work has thrown me for a loop. I can’t even explain why, because, as I’ve mentioned, I really like my job, I really like my coworkers, and I like the time to myself. I know it takes a little while for me to get back into the swing of things, but usually by this point I’ve adjusted. I have not adjusted.

This time around the adjustment is harder. I see it slowly happening, but it’s frustrating that it’s not getting easier, faster. It’s also frustrating me that I am being unrealistic. At this point I’ve decided my brain is just one big contradiction.

I wake up tired. I spend the morning feeling angry. I spend the day thinking about this face…

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And then I spend the night feeling guilty.

Oh, and did you remember that I have other kids?

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I feel guilty about them, too.

Braeden has been so wonderfully sweet with the baby (he really loves him so much), but I feel like he is angry and distant with me at times. OK, most of the time.

Hey there Mr. Attitude

I feel like I don’t play with him enough, or talk with him as much as I want — and instead I yell at him too much. I feel like he’s growing up way to fast and I don’t know how to reel him in.

Livie has been difficult, as expected. She IS the middle child. She is adorable and sweet and sassy, but can also be stubborn and dramatic and four.

She's deceivingly cute

She is too smart for her own good — or maybe just my own good. She has definitely regressed and at times tells people that she wishes she was the baby. It seriously breaks my heart.

Oh and then there’s the fact that I’m married.

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Hey husband.

Dan has been nothing but patient, kind, and helpful. He mostly tackles the care of the other two while I am taking care of Evan. After 16 years together he gets me. I have that whole “only girl + oldest child” thing (if it’s not a thing it should be) and he has that “only child” thing – so we both like our alone time. But maybe not THIS much alone time is healthy? I know it’s important to keep a strong marriage when you have kids, but it is another case of easier said than done, especially with a new baby. I feel like I don’t even have time to take care of myself, let alone a relationship. So it’s on autopilot right now. Most nights we spend taking care of the kids and then sitting in silence while we get lost in a book, TV, or the internet. It’s certainly not the picture of martial bliss. But, after being touched and pumped and worrying about things all day, I really just want to snuggle with my baby and try to unwind my brain and then sleep. Alone. It’s the only thing I can handle right now. And I feel guilty about that too.

I know it will get easier. I know that my stupid hormones are not helping. I know that focusing on things that make me happy WILL make me happy. I know that running will also help. I know that going on a few date nights without the kids will help me feel better about my marriage. I know all of these things… but it doesn’t mean I am any less of a mess.

So why am I putting this out there for the whole internet to read? Why am I WHINING about having a wonderful husband and three healthy and happy kids, who act like kids?  Maybe because I don’t want to feel like I am so alone in my thoughts and feelings. Or maybe because I’m tired of pretending like my life is back to normal. I put on a happy face most days. I don’t know how good at it I am – but it’s there. When people ask me how I am, I say, “good.”  And I can talk about the baby for hours. Even though he doesn’t do much yet. I try to find the fun and the funny in my day to day activities. If I’m laughing, my laughter is genuine, and so are my smiles, but deep down I am wishing that I was still on maternity leave. Mentally, I’m not ready to be back to work. Back at life. Deep down I feel an odd sense of unhappiness – but I don’t know WHY. It’s unnerving.

Normally, I would make a plan or a list. Because that’s what I do and really there is so much to look forward to! But this time… I’m tired. So, I’m just going to whine about it and just put it out there. Acknowledging that things aren’t “perfect” out loud is the first step, right ? ‘m also focusing on making it to Fridays. And trying to be more patient and kinder to myself and others. And telling my husband it’s not him and that I love him. And that I sometimes feel like I am failing. Who knows, maybe I need some spiritual guidance? See… I’m already starting to make a list.

Truthfully, I think I just need to accept that these things take time and that normal is a relative term. It’s normal to be flustered, overwhelmed, and tired when your life changes – no matter how prepared you think you are for the change. It’s normal to feel challenged. But really? I cannot wait until this changing, growing period is over and I can say – I made it through and we have learned/experienced/grown so much. Until then, I’m in the tunnel, looking for that light…let me know if you see it.

And obviously, I need to go for a good run right about now… because DANG it’s getting all serious up in here.

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  1. I’m glad you posted this today. Not that you feel blah and what not, but you made me feel somewhat normal. I can’t speak for having 3 kids so honestly I have no idea how you do it but there are some things you touched on that I’m definitely feeling. I miss B all day long and I don’t even like my job (not even a little) which is why I’m in grad school…which is a whole other demon I’m going to have to deal with when classes start in TWO…wait no ONE week (my personal meltdown post on that is to come).

    I’m convinced that there is some sort of “post” postpartum depression. Like I thought I made it 3 months and woohoo no PPD for me but there are days now that I’m back to work where I am so very blah. Just blah.

    I was just thinking today how my marriage feels kind of meh, not that we love each other any less or that anything has changed, I mean aside from the baby that sleeps in our bed, but it’s just kind of boring, ya know? I feel guilty for that, because you’re right, after a long day at work all you want to do is snuggle with the baby. Husbands get the short end of the stick on this deal, I’m probably not going to admit that to him but I kinda suck as a wife in the physical sense of one. Yeah I get dinner made sometimes, I keep the house semi clean, and I take care of the baby but what have I actually done for HIM lately? Nadda. There are definitely days where I let the exhaustion show and I’m not very nice to be around.

    So before I write my entire blog post here in your comment section, just wanted to say I feel ya and in this case, walk towards the light.
    Carissa recently posted..Ride Across Indiana 2013 (R.A.I.N.)

    • It is sort of a post-postpartum depression. Although, I don’t feel depressed as much as I feel a lot of emotions all jumbled into one and I don’t know what to feel first, so it turns into not really wanting to do anything.

      Ugh about school starting. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this too – but it SOOOO comforting to know that I’m not alone and that it is “normal.” The new normal (that better NOT stick around for long!). I’m sure it’s particularly hard for you because the first 6-8 weeks were so full of colic and crying. That is NEVER fun.

      We are lucky to have such great guys supporting us – and you HAVE done a lot and they really do appreciate us more than you think!!

  2. Michelle Michelle you are doing good just think of good times you are not alone we are with you and you are a special person take care.

  3. I wish I had some wise words to say or some advice to give, but I don’t. That’s your role for me. :)

    All I’ll say is what you’re describing sounds completely normal and sadly all-too-relatable to me and almost every other mother I know (at least the honest ones). That’s not to diminish your malaise (I feel that word sums it up, huh?), but just to say, you’re 1000 percent not alone. And I only have 1/3 the kids you have but I feel the same exhaustion. And the same blahness. And the same “oh I really should do x,y or z but I JUST.CAN’T” as you.

    I’m sorry you’re in this place. I’m sorry you’re feeling these things. I’m sorry me saying sorry will probably make you feel guilty. I’m sorry for the banal saying I’m about to use — this too shall pass. But it will. For now, don’t find the feeling. Wallow. Get it out of your system for however long that takes. Then move on. It’ll happen. You’re too dang impressive in every single area of your life (and for real; not the public face) for it not to happen.

    And in the meantime, there’s always wine. I’ll be right over.
    Jackie @ MomJovi recently posted..Family Volunteering Night at Second Harvest

    • It’s definitely malaise! I’m not sad enough to cry and I’m not numb like I’m depressed — I just don’t want to be at work. Lol. And I want to soak in all of Evan’s babyness (it’s a word) and I don’t want it to end because I love it so damn much. I know you are feeling similar feelings about E starting K and you going back to work 5 days a week. Doesn’t it just kind of suck? You’re right though – this too shall pass.

      And thank goodness for wine and beer and cocktails. And good friends like you :) We will have to do a cheers on Saturday night!

  4. I can so relate to this. Strangely, I had a harder time after the second child than I did after my twins (third and fourth children). Maybe because I expected the twins to be sooooo extremely hard, that any easiness was a bonus. My husband accused me of not liking music anymore the other day, and I had to admit that even though I still love music, what I crave most is silence. Just peaceful, joyful silence.
    Yo Momma Runs recently posted..How I drill toenails (and other revolting photo evidence)

    • Silence is so wonderful – I bet especially so with 4 (and twins!!).

      Interesting that baby #2 was a harder adjustment – but I can totally see that. I do think “maybe it was hard with all of them?” and I’ve just completely forgotten? I know I struggled with the baby blues a lot longer (and harder) with both of them – but this time it didn’t hit me until I went back to work. This too shall pass, right?

  5. I don’t have the kids, but I often feel this way when I get back from vacation. The real world is hard to adjust to even if you’ve been gone from it for a short amount of time. I get that from a week’s vacation, so it sounds pretty normal you’re getting this after 6-8 weeks of maternity leave. Things are more stressful and you want to focus your attention other places but you don’t have time. But you will! It will come. You just have to get past the crappy part. Maybe drop some obligations (tho, not your one this Saturday!) for a short time to take a little bit of the load off. Ya know?

    Also, that might be one of the best pics I’ve ever seen of Dan.
    Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run recently posted..What I’m Reading

    • It’s a very similar feeling just more… hormonally charged. Lol. And don’t worry – I will NOT be dipping out on Saturday. Not a chance!

      It’s funny because Dan is on his way to the gym in that pic and I’m not even sure he brushed his hair. It’s the “Evan Effect” :)

  6. I have been following your blog for a few weeks now and I LOVE your humor, honesty and candidness. We are the same age, (I am a little older but who is counting!) and I can totally relate to this post. And I am only on my FIRST kid. :) I just had to visit my dr for anxiety and insomnia, trying to manage a career, a baby, a husband, myself (and now a cross-country move and finding a new job). I can assure you that you are NOT alone. And even bigger misfortune is that I can’t offer any advice, but I can offer an ear (or in this case, eyes).

    When I visited my dr regarding my anxiety, being anxious and short with people, he said that this is just my “normal.” After being a newlywed and a mom, everything in life is settling down and this is just who I am. I wanted to cry. I got angry at a guy for parking next to me when I had to get the baby out of the backseat. Mad. Over parking.

    I don’t know if you plan on more children, but if not, maybe part of what you are feeling is that this is your last one and you want to give it everything? My husband gets neglected too, and like I said, we have only ONE kid.

    Again, sorry I don’t have good advice, just know you aren’t alone. I am also eager to read others’ comments and maybe we form a blog support group! Virtual mama hugs coming you way.
    Jennifer recently posted..Letters to My Daughter: … on Feeding

    • I do think some of how I’m feeling is because I know that E is my last baby. Motherhood is hard, but I have loved every bit of these past 8 years and it’s definitely sad to close the book childbearing and baby raising – and yes, I definitely want to give him my full attention. There’s just something about that “baby.”

      I’m sorry to hear that you are feeling the same way — but at the same time it IS comforting to know that I’m not alone. And we will make it through this stage (which just makes me SUPER excited for those menopause years. Yay!).

      Thanks for the hugs – sending some right back at you!!

  7. Hang in there! I can’t imagine having 3 but you probably are still finding a new balance with everything. When I went to work I cried a lot. I thought I was failing my son, my students, my husband. I just try to stay focused on who I’m with or what I’m doing. My heart aches all day being away from him but I know he’s in good hands and I try to leave as soon as I can and bring work home with me. My husband travels a lot so that gives me time at night to work but when he’s home I try to focus on us. I’m sure your a great mom and wife. Try not to be too hard on yourself.

    • All of this exactly. It’s always comforting to know this is “normal.” It’s almost like MY separation anxiety from him, you know? I am going to try to start making little changes to see if that helps. And I’m going to run more (which I know helps!) — and I’m going to keep taking Fridays off until I can get back on my feet. Thank goodness for a flexible job!

  8. Oh, this sounds so tough, and honestly, I don’t know how you do it! You’ll find the right balance. I’ve often heard that going from 2 kids to 3 is harder than going from 1 to 2, so I think what you’re experiencing is totally normal. I’m sure it will pass. Lots of people who are way less competent do it, so I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Try not to be so hard on yourself (I know, easier said than done, but still).

    • You are so right — I WILL find the balance and it will pass. Actually, knowing that it’s temporary and normal does help. It’s just such a bummer because I love my little guy and I loooooove babies. Stupid hormones suck. I’m going to be a real peach during menopause.

  9. Huge hugs to you, Michelle! Gosh, I can relate, but I only have ONE baby, and I don’t work full time. So you are pretty much super woman … I don’t know how you do it. Hormones suck … I blame it all on them. Haha. But in all seriousness, even if it is “just hormones”, it still doesn’t make it any easier. I totally get it. And thank you so much for opening up and being honest. Being a mom certainly isn’t rainbows and butterflies all the time. xoxo
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..08/08/13: Thursday Thoughts

    • Thanks :) One baby or three – things can be overwhelming and challenging! Being a mom is definitely the most rewarding and fun thing I’ve ever done – but yeah it’s definitely NOT always rainbows and butterflies. I know this too shall pass… I hope soon!!

  10. Hey there, Michelle! I check in with your blog every now and then. I totally understand how you feel. It’s the third kid. Honestly. Because the third one is so easy and sweet and cute and so the end of the baby line and you just want to hold on to them and cuddle them and love them just a little bit more than your altogether sweet and lovable but sassy/whiny/challenging/loud/pulling-on-you-for-attention other kids. And then the older ones do “bad” things and you yell at them while cuddling #3 and feel like a total b*tch. But then there are those moments after the baby is sleeping and you are laying down with #1 and #2 and you think, damn, you two are just practically babies yourself and you’re awesome and smart and thoughtful and I’m going to be a more patient mom tomorrow morning who is not yelling before 9am and sort of on the verge of rage before 11. And you do your best the next day because that is all you can do. You are doing great. I can’t imagine how hard adding work in to the mix is. You should feel so proud of yourself. Hope to see you soon!

    • YES to all of this. I wish I could clone myself – a more patient, chore-loving, attentive wife kind of clone. Meanwhile, you’ll find me sitting on the couch snuggling with the baby. Thank you for this :)

  11. I agree with everything Jackie wrote. This is normal. This is okay. You’re going to get through it. You’re allowed to be blah and tired.

    I only have one and no “real” career, yet I feel overwhelmed far too often. You amaze me with how much you take on with enthusiasm and smiles. You’re allowed to cut yourself some slack sometimes. Yes, it’s hard when you feel like that slack effects the ones you love, but you all will get through this.

    Now, go for that run!
    Kerry Ann @Vinobaby’s Voice recently posted..A Summer Show Initiation —The Kid’s First Dave Matthew’s Band Concert

  12. You obviously know how I feel about this!!! I’m glad you’re putting it out there too. You do amaze me though with the things you have going on! I feel like a wimp for my problems, when you clearly have so much more on your plate!! I’m glad you made it to Friday, and here’s to hoping that things get easier. Shall we share a bottle of wine tonight? Nah, let’s just tackle our own each ;)
    char eats greens recently posted..five new foods friday

    • You are SO not a wimp!! The hardest transition IN MY LIFE was to having one baby. I feel “blah” and pretty much useless now – but I felt completely and utterly lost when I first had Braeden. It took me a good year to feel like myself again. But the good news is that I DID feel like myself again – and I know that I will get back there. Some day.

      I am taking you up on that wine offer tonight… cheers! *clink*

  13. Huge hugs! I can only imagine how stressful it must be to take care of 3 kids, a husband and work. You are a rockstar. Hang in there. I’m sure things will start looking up soon. I know those postpartum hormones don’t help! I think it helps to acknowledge those feelings too. It’s worse to keep it all bottled up inside.
    Kristen recently posted..More heart rate training and a new chapter

    • Thank you!! Just writing this all out has helped immensely. I’ve been thinking about it a lot this weekend and I think it’s a combination of hormones, sleep deprivation, and E being my last baby. I want to bottle all of this baby stuff up – I love it so much!!

  14. Big Hugs for My Baby! I still feel guilty that I didn’t do all the things I should have done! #3 child does bring out all the hormones, the guilty feelings of not taking care of something else, when all you want to do is snuggle with #3! I remember when you and Dan mentioned that you were thinking of having a 3rd. I knew what it meant, I knew the struggles, but there was no way I could or would have told you NOT to have the loveable #3! I didn’t work full time, and I had lots of family help! You are taking on the world.. and succeeding! You have amazed me from the moment I set eyes on you 35 years ago. I feel for you! I am here for you! I know it will pass..but in the meantime.. it sucks! Know that you are loved, that B loves you, L loves you, Dan loves you without hesitation.. so do I.. Deep cleansing breathes and the things will seem better for a little bit!

    • It will pass – and I have to say, I don’t mind the crazy so much when we are all together. This weekend was so nice… even though it was nuts. I just feel like work adds this whole dimension of guilt that I’ve never felt before. I’m sure it will even out over time. Until then… I’ll muddle through. And just try to enjoy every minute of E being the sweetest baby ever.

  15. Wow, first of all I assume Maryellen is your mom. And her comment just brought tears to my eyes.

    I love your blog. I’ve never commented, but I feel the need today.

    I’m struggling with something completely different in my life than you…trying (for over a year now, for baby #1 and more than likely the only baby). My mom sent me something the other day along the lines of spiritual guidance, so I will pass it on to you. Remember – we are human :)

    From my mom’s favorite devotional, Jesus Calling…” Trust me in the depths of your being. It is there that I live in constant communion with you. When you feel flustered and frazzled on the outside, do not get upset with yourself. You are only human, and the swirl of events going on around you will sometimes feel overwhelming. Rather than scolding yourself for your humanness, remind yourself that I am both with you and within you.
    I am with you at all times, encouraging and supportive, rather than condemning. I know that deep within you, where I live, My Peace is your continual experience. Slow down your pace of living for a time. Quiet your mind in my Presence. Then you will be able to hear Me bestowing the resurrection blessing: Peace be with you.”
    Colossians 1:27, Matt 28:20, John 20:19

    • Yes – Maryellen is my mom :)

      Thank you for commenting!! I love what your mom sent to you and yes, we are only human. Sometimes we REALLY need that reminder.

      Big hugs to you and your struggle. It took me almost two years to get pregnant with Braeden and being told that I was “infertile” is a moment that I will never forget. I won’t pretend to know your pain – but I truly hope you get your miracle baby (B is definitely mine).

    • I agree! Writing this has actually helped me feel more human and made me process what I’ve been experiencing. I can only hope I’m turning a corner.

      Katy, Paula, Victoria and I keep talking about getting together for a run. We NEED to make this happen! I’m still working on building my endurance back up, but I’m hoping to be in half marathon shape soon. If you need someone to pace you for a sloooow recovery run, I’m your girl. Lol.

  16. Michelle, all I can say is “Hang in there.” As my husband likes to say we do what we can with what we have. I remember feeling some of this when my third was born and knowing she was my last trying to live each and every moment as fully as I could but sometimes all I wanted was to just sit and not worry about everything! xx
    Susi recently posted..Follow Friday Four Fill in Fun

    • Thank you!! And yes, it’s really all related to E being my last baby. I want to just enjoy every minute of him like he’s my first and only and that is SO not possible! Thankfully, he is the easiest, sweetest, and happiest baby ever. I don’t know how I got so lucky!

    • I really do think that sleep deprivation has so much to do with my irrational craziness. I have a feeling it will come soon for you… and I’m a little jealous. Until then, I will just keep running. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I’m able to squeeze in a few miles.

  17. I wish I had some wise advice to give you — but obviously I’ve not been through any of this yet. I hope things get easier for you & based on what all of the other commenters are saying above, I’d say things WILL get easier & that this really is normal for you and every other mom to a new baby, whether it’s the first or the fifth! Hang in there!
    Theresa recently posted..Baby Update: He’s Here

    • It will get easier – it’s true! And writing about it has really helped me process my feelings. I guess I just really just miss my little guy. I seriously wish I could bottle up his sweetness and his “babyness” (which is TOTALLY a word) because I know it doesn’t last forever. *sigh*

  18. My Braden is my middle child and has been an ongoing battle. I want to be more gentle with him, but then I feel like I’m spoiling him rotten. He has been doing weird things like refusing to wear shorts or short sleeved shirts all summer.
    Alecia recently posted..Contractual

    • I feel like this is really just what middle children does! I’m the oldest of 3 and my middle brother definitely was the most challenging out of all of us. The good news is that he’s now this super successful, super smart computer engineer – so it’s not all bad :)

  19. I’m so glad you shared this post. I only have 1, but I can relate to the feeling of being tired…and not wanting to really do anything. And the guilt. Isn’t there always something to feel guilty about? I love reading about what other Moms are going through because so many of us can relate. It helps sometimes to just know others are feeling similar and we aren’t alone.
    Nicole recently posted..Summer Streets with Reebok!

    • As I said in a comment above – my HARDEST transition was truly from zero kids to one. It was a combination of not knowing what I was doing, feeling like everything was difficult, and then feeling like I was missing out on so much because I was concentrating on doing things “right.” (which then led to the guilt) I also didn’t really have many friends with kids at the time and it was so lonely. The good news is that I survived and the feelings dissipated – and I realized that things don’t have to be perfect.

      I think this time I just really want to bottle up all things baby. I’m very happy with having three kids – but it’s hard to think that he’s my last baby. He sweetness and easy-going nature is NOT helping! Lol.

  20. Thank you for sharing this. Now that I’m back in school, and even though I only have 1 kid, this is how I feel most of the time. My husband asks what’s up and I don’t usually have the words to describe the funk feeling, so I’ll just send him here to read this instead :)

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