07 November 2008

MIddle of the Night Brain Dump

Everything is crappy in the middle of the night when your children aren't sleeping.

The last two hours have been filled with coughing, demands for water, demands for diaper changes, screaming (all the twins), a group snuggle on the couch, singing of Twinkle Twinkle, promises that sleep will come, more screaming (still all the twins), happy chit-chat, pleas for compliance, whining (again, the twins), more chatter, bedroom doors open, bedroom doors shut, a walk around the block (Mama; don't worry, my mom is visiting, so Maddie and Riley were not alone), more chatter.

The coughing seems to have died down. Riley is now just . . . talking. He's been talking, whining, or screaming for the past hour. Maddie seems to finally be asleep. I just keep second guessing myself: should I stop trying to play hardball since I'm not really following through? Should I just bring Riley out on the couch and watch TV? What would it hurt, really? What am I trying to prove?

I hate making these decisions on my own.

I feel fat.

I'm apprehensive about having The Talk with Mr. Coffee.

My job drives me insane.

I don't eat enough fruit and veggies.

I eat too many sweets.

I love my kids so insanely much, but being a single parent depletes my every reserve.

I have a giant zit.

The humidity is wreaking havoc on my hair.

My patience is running low. These days, when my patience is running low, I think about how Barack Obama maintained his cool when John McCain called him "That One" during the debates. If Mr. Obama—who I'm sure was even more sleep-deprived than your average parent, not to mention generally stressed out, run ragged, and sucked dry—can keep his shit together when called, "That One," then I can keep my shit together when dealing with sleepless babies.

But it's not easy.

What I really hate is how much better it makes me feel to yell. No, I have not yelled at the twins tonight, but I have really, really wanted to. To anyone who says, "Yell into a pillow!" I say, "Pshaw!" Seriously, yelling into a pillow? NOT THE SAME AS REAL YELLING. I've tried it. It just doesn't provide the same release. And since I live in a crowded, relatively urban area, going out in the backyard and letting the obscenities fly isn't really going to work for me either. The neighbors might have a thing or two to say. I wish I could figure out a yelling alternative that gave me the same release. Throwing stuff works, but it's rather destructive and can be noisy and destruction and noise are counterproductive to creating a calm atmosphere that fosters toddler sleep.

So instead I stew. And blog. And give thanks that I have yet to be called "That One."


Pollyanna said...

Yes, bring Riley out on the couch with you. Five years from now you will look back on the moment, fondly.

Annagrace said...

If it makes you feel any better, I AM fat. And I'm a yeller. I console myself, over glasses of red wine, with the thought that at least our family's emotions are on the table instead of being hidden,secret things to be feared...but mostly I know that a) it's horrible and b) I don't know what else to do. The girls' sleeping is all messed up from time changes and colds. And I'm pretty sure Birdie is teething. Perfect.

Hope you get some sleep, soon, Mama. It's late here, which means it's REALLY late there...

Kathryn said...

Deep sympathies.
re the yelling thing, I used to want to throw things at this point (even with a partner to hand and notionally able to help with the children)and remembered fondly one occasion when I'd thrown a smoked glass coffee mug and it had shattered most satisfyingly.
So, I tried it again.
But they had changed the design so it bounced.

caro said...

How about this?


Hope today is better.

Charlie said...

Snick - you are soooo hard on yourself. You seem to be such a great mum and a lovely person, so stop second guessing yourself and realise that all the decisions you make are the best ones for your family.

You're right though, the middle of the night is the most horrible time!

eba said...

Let me reassure you that you *are* a good mom. Your kids will grow up knowing they are deeply loved. They are very lucky to have you for a mom.

I don't know what to say about maintaining consistency when your kids are sick. It does sound like they (or maybe just Ri-guy) are needing extra reassurance. He's not always so needy, but it sounds like he is super needy when he's sick. (You've written about this before.)

I love taking inspiration from Barack Obama -- you're right that he's incredibly cool-headed, and I think we can all learn a little from the way he comports himself under extreme pressure.

Hang in there. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Find things about yourself to love. Perhaps today is a good day for extra indulgence all around.

Be well.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

It is nearly impossible to hold it together ALL THE TIME! We've been sick here and I've been yelling too. The problem is that yelling feels REALLY good to me in the moment but then afterwards, I end up feeling ten times worse and so does my kid.

What have I done to fight the yelling urge? I've compromised all my beliefs about toddlers and TV and put a DVD in for Vivi. I reasoned that it is not a regular thing and it is far less damaging than screaming at my daughter because I'm too stressed out to deal any other way.

Of course, I'm not happy I had to resort to TV and that I just couldn't figure out a better way. There's nothing like parenthood to make you realize that perfection isn't even close to being a possibility. At this point, I'm just trying to minimize my kid's need for therapy.

Oh, and I'm fat too!

Keen said...

Oh, Snick. Things are always so much worse in the middle of the night, worse when you're not sleeping, worse when your kids are sick. I hope they get better soon and you're able to get some rest. I'm also glad your mom is in town, because that's one thing that makes things better, for me.

All of my parenting principles fly out the window when the kids are sick, or when I'm sick. For the past couple of days, they've been watching YouTube videos on an endless loop, and one of them slept in his dirty clothes last night because I just couldn't change him into his PJs. Things will get back to normal, but for now, all that stuff is OK.

Anonymous said...

I love how you used this historic week as a way to keep life in perspective. Mainly because I have done the same thing! If Obama has been able to do A, B and C then I should be able to survive X, Y and Z I tell myself. If nothing else it has been a great coping mechanism :)

Also, I love your blog...and your kids are adoable. And as an adult (at 24 that's what the 'real world' wants to call me) that was raised part of my life by a widow (I too lost my father) I think you are doing a great job. Keep the faith!


Anonymous said...

Ohhhh how I know the feeling! I am a blog-lurker and have never posted before. A single mom (through my own choices) I also feel like my every reserve become depleted VERY quickly, VERY frequently. When I do want to scream, I sing. I know that sounds stupid, but if I can - I get in the car (only when the children are being watched of course) and belt out the tunes!!

You are a very good mom, you are dealing with everyday- I am by myself- doing this alone - trying to date- trying to parent - kinda things! You are doing great :)


Anonymous said...

Lock yourself in the car and yell. It's a great place to rant and rave and in you garage, almost no one can hear you.

Watercolor said...

Do you have any batting cages nearby? Or golf driving ranges? I used to go hit balls until my arms would fall off. In fact, that might not be a bad idea to do today.... sigh.

Becca said...

Don't forget about your car. That's where I go to scream obscenities. But good for you for trying to find alternatives. I hope things look better in the light of day.

Anonymous said...

I know it is easier to be called "that one" than to take care of twins (or any kid) 24/7. Plus I have a feeling his wife does most of the parenting. Dont downplay what you have to deal with and with out a spouse too. I yell sometimes -- i hate it when I do but after asking 10 times for the older one to stop hitting the younger one I cant stand it anymore. Sometimes I just yell into the air (and yes, the kids are there to watch me lose it) but gotta release that frustration somehow. Oh, and i am fat too :) Maggie

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Barack was also giving up smoking. Can you imagine how bad he wanted a fucking cigarette during that time?

We all go through things and feel differently at different times.
I'm not a person that yells, but the other day my cat got my chair at the computer when I got up to get a drink. It had happened one time too many, and I yelled to the top of my lungs that it was my chair and I was tired of her getting it everytime I got up!

I felt pretty stupid after it was over and hoped that my neighbors didn't hear. But there was also a lighter feeling inside of me that I had let something out that had been building up and it probably wasn't really that the cat takes my chair every time I get up.

Ali said...

Sick = no routine. Throw it out the window,but make sure to tell them they only get to do this because they are sick! Sometimes it is just so hard not to scream. I am trying so hard not to but sometimes it just is what is needed to get thru to them. Other times I am just plain nuts and it was uncalled for. We are human right? Will our child remember each scream. NO. You are a great mom and love them will all your heart. They know that.

I think I am on the same no fruit/veggie lots of sweets diet you are on. It doesn't seem to be working. What are we doing wrong?

niz said...

how about yelling/singing along to angry music in the car, by yourself? I'm a big fan of the Old 97's live album "Alive & Wired" --drunken alt-country breakup music, basically, but I find it to be a great stressbuster whatever the stressor.

Eva said...

As a kid we had something like this:

Fun for the whole family.

Still have to think through what it says about violence -- punching not okay, unless it's a clown?

I said something similar months ago, but I feel fat, worry about consistency, get exhausted, want to yell, etc., and I'm not doing it alone.

Melissa said...

I do kickboxing instead of yelling. Great work out and to release my stress by beating the crap out of something feels really good.

haitch pee said...

You are strong and capable. I hope today goes more smoothly for all of you!

Tiffi33 said...

When kids are sick there is no routine..extra snuggles are always good..
and if it gets bad,let them sleep w/ you :)

You are doing a good job..I can not imagine how much being a single parent saps your energy...but I do know that *never* asking yourself the questions you have just asked yourself denotes not such a good parent..
so you are fine!!
hang in there..I hope you got some rest

Anonymous said...


it's hard not to laugh at this - and it sure eases the tension!

ignore all routines - it's a special time cos they're sick - they'll soon go back to routine when they feel well again and it helps you keep your sanity.

you are an ace mama! wow! mags x

OTRgirl said...

Sick babies does NOT sound fun. So sorry.

I hear you on the yelling thing. When Jrex and I were first married, that's how I tried to do conflict. It's how my brother and I had fought growing up. Yelling, throwing, physical shoves and punches. Not saying it's 'the way', but I knew it was a great way to release pressure. After the fights, we both were fine.

Didn't work with Jrex. He just shut down. The yelling, explosion deal only works when you get to share that equally, otherwise it just feels abusive somehow.

It's much harder to sit there and ask questions to draw out of him why he's so upset. My little rituals of writing things, tearing them up, burning them have replaced some of my verbal explosion need.

amber said...

knowing how stressed out i can get and i don't have kids, well, i can only imagine how much more those feelings can be intensified with young kids.

i'm sorry it was a rough night. i hope the weekend is better.

Giovanna Diaries said...

I've done the bring on the sick kid on the couch to watch tv at 2 in the morning. You do what you have to.
And you made me laugh w/the zit comment!

BethGo said...

You are okay in my book, sister.
You inspire me to be a better mom to my children.
Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

It is especially difficult when everything seems to converge and all suckiness sucks itself into a GREAT BIG GIANT BALL OF SUCK that's bigger than each of the individual components. Hang in there. Have a glass of wine. Things will be better tomorrow. If not tomorrow, the day after that. Repeat until this is true.

Hang in there.


Anonymous said...

Throwing socks? I heard someone say that works for them.

Sandi said...

I could have written almost exactly the same post.

I have just vowed this week to start eating better. I bought a whole bunch of fruits and veggies.

Aimee said...

I haven't read the other comments, but if you have a garage, could you get in the car and yell? Same release, but maybe not so loud or "disturbing" to the neighbors.

Angela said...

I agree with one of your other commenters, have you tried yelling in your car? I totally agree that a good yell can feel extremely satisfying.
You are an awesome Mom and I really admire your strength and obvious love and commitment to your children. I am so sorry you had such a rough night, I hope the day goes much better.

Kendra's mom said...

How about buying a punching bag? It really does help and if you spend a while each day kicking it, then it will help you to lose weight (not that I think you need to from the pics I have seen) and you will feel better about yourself.

Heather said...

This is going to sound crepy, but I'm going to say it anyway. Last night I had a dream about you. I dreamt that I was watching the twins for you to get to go do something, and I had them in some room where a wall was missing and was the edge of a cliff. Riley got too close to the edge, and before I could grab him, he slipped off and tumbled all the way to the bottom. Not a fatal fall, but surely he was hurt, so I took Maddie's hand and we followed a path to the bottom where he'd landed. And then he wasn't there. So, I spent the rest of the dream finding you with Maddie in tow, knowing you would know what to do.

And I'm sure you will know what to do in this situation, too, because you're just in tune with your kids, and you know them better than anyone else.

Jamie said...

Oh how I feel for you -
I am not a single parent and my reserves are tapped.

Punhcing bags are nice - Those "heavy bags" that you can get. Wonderful way to get out frustrations...

Hope the kiddies are sleeping better soon -

Anonymous said...

How about a punching bag? I mean, not the little speed bag, but one of the big ~40 pound ones that you can really smack. It's a great way to take our your frustration/anger/etc without hurting anyone/anything, and it can be a good workout, too. (Assuming, of course, you have a place to put one.)


Crash Course Widow said...

Ouch. Poor Mama.

If it's any solace, that period when I was about 18mos. into widowhood and Anna was 2yrs4mos old was absolutely AWFUL. No...wait...it was REALLY awful once she turned 3, and she was 6 months into the Terrible Twos/Threes and I was no longer dating my friend to provide a distraction. And I started spanking, and yelling, and wanting to break things regularly. I understand how the yelling can just plain ol' feel good sometimes. I baby-say/was nanny for my niece and nephew this summer in addition to Anna, and sometimes they'd get so loud and obnoxious and were NOT listening that I had to bellow to be heard over them, because calm and subdued and talking to them at their level just did NOT work. And those yells felt soooooooooooo good sometimes. Guttural and primal and so real.

Twos are tough, even without twins or grief and single parenthood on top of it. I have no good suggestions for satisfactory alternatives, except it gets easier to yell at them as they get older. ;o) Just kidding (sort of... =)).

And I relate completely to your list of laments. I could form my own parallel version too.

I hope your night(s) get a bit easier this week! Hang in there!

Threeundertwo said...

Wishing you sleep and no-drama-Obama type days.

Crash Course Widow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam said...

You are a great Mom, don't beat yourself up! None of us are perfect. I yell at my toddler, then feel insanely guilty. It's been a while since I have thrown objects, but I have. I think we all agree, emotions are raging in the middle of the night. As for getting Riley up in the middle of the night, I say all bets are off when they are sick. My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 26 months old, but I don't follow our normal rules when he is sick or scared. Try not to be so hard on yourself, okay? Hope the babes are feeling better.

Anna said...

Snick -

Everything DOES seem worse during the night and when one thing (screaming children) isn't going well all other things come out too - weight, fear of 'The Talk', eating habits etc. All will go back to normal when you get some sleep. As for the yelling...I remember that feeling so well and sometimes I would just go into a room other than my daughter, lock the door, and just let loose. I made me feel better and my daughter just thought I was crazy I think. At least it wasn't directed at her...well not everytime...

Susan said...

Snick - wow, hopefully all these previous posts have encourage you...they have me and I didn't even write :) A lot of people in the same boat.....it helps to know that sometimes. And the zit, that is caused by all the added stress :) Hang in there. And I agree with some in saying, you have to do what you have to do...it won't hurt to have TV at 2 a.m. when one is sick. Here's hoping for a healthier week.


shiel said...

hey snick,

i agree with everyone else who has said, "sick = no routine" and i have a little story, too :)

when my little girl was actually still a little girl (sigh) ... about 5 or 6, she watched snow white. now, that's a creepy show honestly, even if the overall story is nice. anyway, she woke up screaming in a way i'd never heard before around 2 a.m. the next morning. actually, she wasn't really awake. i tried to calm her but she honestly was so scared she just couldn't stop screaming. i finally just asked her if she'd like to go for a drive. she was so shocked that she stopped screaming and tearfully nodded yes. so we put our coats on and piled in the car at 2:30 a.m. and started driving around. she was still hiccuping and crying quietly, but no screaming. i talked to her and sang to her ... we listened to the radio. after a bit, i stopped at a convenience store and got us some hot chocolate and with that, her tears finally stopped. we drove home and she climbed in bed with me and slept peacefully.

i realize she wasn't sick, but i'll never forget it and she hasn't either. sometimes the "rules" just don't work and utter unconsistency is the answer.

love to mads & ri-man .. ben sympathizes ..


Nancy said...

Catching up on my blogging...hope the little ones are feeling better by now!

I love all of the ideas your readers give out...I always get a bunch of great ideas...like yelling in the car. Nice!!

I didn't read *ALL* of the comments, just skimmed, so sorry if this one is a repeat. How 'bout making bread? And not in a bread maker...the kind you have to punch and knead. Not only does it get lots of stress out, but you have a finished product at the end to feel like you've accomplished something :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the night issues. They're no fun.

Rolling eyes at the Obama analogy, though. "That one" is analagous to saying "not this one, but that one." If supporters feel not reacting to such inocuous phrasing deserves fawning accolades you're definitely falling into the cult of personality.