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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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exhaustion

A Tired Teacher-Mom’s 8 Little Luxuries Essential to Summer Survival

Summertime is hard on this Teacher-Mom. All those social media pics of exuberant educators wearing their “Tag, Parents! You’re It!” t-shirts… yeah, they can BITE ME.

Because I’m a teacher AND a mother of five-year-old twins. So I’m ALWAYS it. Always. I leave the frying pan in May and submerge myself in the fire during June and July.

And I’m more than a little burned out.

While other teachers rest, recover, and recharge, I referee. Those twins of mine, they fight. Like every second of every waking hour. (Ok, slight exaggeration. They fight like every alternating second of every waking hour. The remaining seconds, they carpet bomb our living space.)

So while other educators are out there sipping their umbrella drinks with their toes in the water, having assemblies in the sand, I have a list of my own little luxuries I can turn to at home. With kids. Angry, destructive, torrential tornado kids.

#1: wearing a soft, fuzzy robe and sipping coffee out of a hand-turned pottery mug. Sure, the robe’s coffee-stained and the coffee’s cold and the people at the Dollar General give me funny looks when I run in for Uncrustables and wine, but still… it’s the little things.

Or #2: watching hummingbirds at my back deck as they flit around their feeder — and then promptly buzz the “F” off because the nectar is moldy and neglected. Because I ain’t got time to take care of birds AND twin boys. Who (did I mention) fight all the everlovinglivelongmotherflusteredday?

Which means I don’t get to read those awesome British mysteries I ordered from Amazon — my #3 — because ain’t nobody got time for that shit. Even if it is some high-quality, imported, upper-crust, manor house, tea cozy shit. So scratch that.

But I do make time for #4: deadheading my marigolds. Because who can resist that satisfying little POP they make? Like snapping the Achilles’ tendon on that simpering, know-it-all parent who sent you email after condescending email all school year long. It’s that sort of satisfying. So I definitely make time for that. It’s therapy.

And I always make time for #5: Parker’s passionate kisses, complete with exaggerated MUAH! at the end. He loves to latch onto my neck and swing his 52-pound body like a 52-pound wrecking ball, shattering my lumbar region in the process, but never failing to restore my joy.

And you know what DOESN’T spark joy in me right now? Cleaning my house. My twin tornadoes completely upend it in seconds anyway — the seconds they aren’t fighting. So instead, I present #6: Nap Time.

That whole newborn baby advice to “nap when they nap,” I’ve done it religiously every weekend and summer since they were born. It’s a trend that never goes out of fashion. It gives me peace of mind, which is far better than the piece of my mind I would give everybody else if I didn’t. And let’s face it, there’s just not a lot of those endangered pieces left to go around.

Sleep always brings me joy. Particularly when the boys sleep — which they didn’t really do for the first sixteen months of their lives.

Which leads me to #7: Tate’s bedtime, when we dance as he sings along to the Jewel lullabies he’s heard since he was six days old and straight out of the NICU. Hearing him warble his bubbly, half-yodel Jewel-tones while gazing lovingly into my eyes … I can ALWAYS make time for that.

And then, finally #8: my own bedtime, complete with a glass of red wine (or two), a bucket of theatre popcorn purchased that afternoon by my ever-accommodating husband (Did you know you can buy popcorn without buying a ticket???), and Dateline. Because after the sun (and sons) go down, I embody my newest favorite meme:

“Lady in the street, netflix, snacks and murder documentaries in the sheets.”

It ain’t a lie. And it keeps me alive. And semi-sane.

All of these little luxuries keep me alive and semi-sane.

Between Mattress and Mayhem: An Existential Crisis 

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 3:15 AM to the frantic noises of my aging Dachshund grappling to free herself from the sliver of empty space between mattress and footboard. She had slid there at some point in the night. Slipped into a dark, cruel void while dreaming of far better things. And she found herself dog-paddling for her life in tight, terrifying circumstances.

Seems to be an appropriate metaphor of my life right now. I’ve been dreaming of better things, too. Bright. Big. Beautiful. Things.

And many of them have become a reality.

In the past five years I’ve become a born-again mother, a newborn blogger, and (this year) a reincarnated teacher.

The dreams are beautiful. And real. And the reality is hard — still beautiful, mind you, but hard. Hard as calculus equations on an English major. Meaning, it can be done. But it requires a whole lot of concentration and a whole lot of help. And I find myself in short supply of both.

I’m kind of grappling out in the darkness right now, dog-paddling for my life in tight and terrifying circumstances.

I’ll start with the born-again motherhood part.

There’s probably a reason a woman’s eggs age. God knows how much energy it takes to chase after kids. Especially boys. Twin boys. They take, like, megatons of energy. Like nuclear-power-plant-on-the-sun tons of energy. Energy I may have had thirty years ago (although honestly, I kind of doubt it), but still, energy that’s in decidedly short supply now.

My energy looks more like the 40-watt lightbulb at the end of a basement pull-switch. And the boys’ energy — well, it’s accelerating somewhere close to the speed of light.  So they run roughshod over me. A lot. And they fling fisticuffs behind me. A lot. And they make messes all around me. A lot. The possibilities and prepositions are endless.

And then there’s the newborn blogger part.

I have such high hopes for my little blog. She’s like my third toddler… I love her, and I’m so proud of her, and I want people to love her. But she also requires a ton of time and energy — time and energy currently directed at my boys and my students. So she settles herself across the tightly strung stretch of my very last nerve and periodically pinches it.

“Hey! Remember me? Don’t you love me anymore??? Feed me!”

So I stress out and lash out and try to paddle faster… typing aimlessly into the dark, cold, bitter abyss.

And finally, there’s the reincarnated teacher part. The part where I’m reborn in a new school after leaving a building where half my teaching career was spent — a school where everybody knew my name. A sitcom theme song kind of place. (Cheers to friends and family and feeling at home!)

And right about now…  after a month in my new place, I’m not gonna lie… I miss the camaraderie of my old school. I miss knowing the routines, and knowing the staff, and knowing the culture. But mostly, I think I miss knowing who I can let my hair down with. Knowing who I can be my best sarcastic, gritty, authentic self with.

So instead, I’ve been building the units and planning the periods and grading the essays and faking-it-till-I’m-making-it… paddling as fast as humanly possible.

But I still feel lost. I still feel alone. I still feel trapped in a tight little space between mattress and mayhem.

And I can’t help thinking about the Corleone family “going to the mattresses” to ride out their mob wars. Holed up in apartments, twenty beds lined floorboard to floorboard, sleeping en masse for protection. Caught between mattress and mayhem.

That is totally me right now. Except not en masse. I’m flying solo.  Being swallowed whole. While paddling as fast as I can. Up hill. In the dark. Through the swirling abyss.

But I can do the hard things. I will do all the hard things — Mother twins. Pen blogs. Teach teens. Despite the abyss. Because of the abyss.

Because if there’s one good thing about an existential crisis, it’s that you learn you’ve gotta keep paddling. Harder. Faster. Longer.

Because if you stop, it’ll get you for sure. But if you don’t, a higher power will hear you. A higher power will come to your rescue. Will scoop you up by your ribcage, calm your frenzied, feverish heart, and set you back down again. Close to, but not inside of, that deep dark abyss.

Somewhere between mattress and mayhem is salvation. Just keep paddling.

 

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