The transition from four to five...some have asked me about it. I never thought I'd say this, but I think it's been easier than from three to four. Honestly, it hasn't been bad at all. But there are a few factors that have been helpful, I think.
One, she's not nursing. She was a super-aggressive nurser and drew so much blood that she would get an upset tummy and throw up all the blood, settle down, eat again, and do it again. Carter was the same way. I was told to pump for about ten days and bottle feed him, It did help, but then he never went back to nursing. The thought of pumping with the other littles around and trying to do the pumping and feeding cycle for a few months with them always needing something while I was doing it made me stressed. But of course, I was emotional about giving it up...about doing what was best for Genevieve...about being a bad mom (isn't it funny what you can think?). With some encouragement from my family, I stopped...on the fourth day, and she's been on a bottle since. I've never had an easier recovery mentally than this one, and it's been pretty great physically, too. So, I might have convinced myself that the guilt just isn't worth it...and I may never nurse again.
Two, she's been sleeping through the night since she was just shy of six weeks. No, it's not a twelve hour stretch yet, but we typically get a good 8-9 hour stretch. Life changer.
Three, it's winter. And, we don't really have to get out much! We don't feel obligated to go to social events (as an introvert, I typically feel more obligated than excited about social gatherings with a few exceptions), we're staying put for the most part to ward off any sickness during cold/flu season, and the days are shorter so we're all together more.
Four, Carter is getting to be quite a bit of help. He still wants me to see/do things all the time, but he can help with the others and do a lot on his own, and that's so nice.
And, perhaps one of the greatest changes in this recovery versus the others...I got back on my anxiety medicine immediately, instead of waiting (always thinking I could handle it all on my own). I don't know why it's so humbling for me, but it's hard to admit that I need this medicine, but when I do, my life is so much better...and in turn, so is my family's.
All of that to say, life has been good. Better than I expected. And, maybe I got a bit prideful, because last week there was a moment that initially knocked me off my feet. You see, I'm typically a worrier (how many times have I told you that???), and I'm a doer - sometimes to an unhealthy extent. I still, as much as I pray to be more detached, find so much joy (that's probably not the right word) in productivity. Don't get me wrong...I can watch quite a bit of TV at night with the husband, but I truly fear getting behind...in laundry, in the to-do list, in projects, in homeschooling. Some days I can let things go and think I'm fine, but then it creeps back in and I work like a madman to get things back together. Well, lately, I've been doing better. Things have still been in order, but it seems I've had a better attitude/more peace. I've felt that I was able to balance things more...not being on my computer much during the day, playing with the kids a bit more (something I always feel I should do more of), reading more than before, and still keeping up with things...somewhat wondering when the ball would drop. Then...Thursday happened.
Jeremy took the big kids to feed the cows for a couple of hours. Apparently Carter had gotten in trouble for misbehaving that morning, but I was unaware. Then, when they got home, I was making lunch and they were all happily playing in the boys' room...or so I thought.
I heard irate screaming and ran back to see what was happening. Apparently, Carter wanted to play something, and his brothers didn't. So, they didn't. Carter went nuts (he has a hard time when his siblings don't want to play with him, and they know it, so they say no to bother him). He was screaming at them and then threw himself on his bed and pouted, every now and then popping up to let them know he was still mad.
I ignored it for a bit. Then after what was more than enough time for him to move on, I asked him to get off his bed and come see me. He didn't move. Then I told him to get off. Still no movement. I told him one last time, and he said that he'd just stay there. So, he was punished for not minding. At that point, he started irately screaming at me (not just crying/whining - I'm talking crazy screaming). Sidenote: this behavior is so unlike Carter. He screamed that I never played with him. That I didn't love him. That I was a fraud and should be ashamed of myself. And, finally...that he was running away. I took him to my room and punished him again because if there's one thing that is not allowed in this family, it's disrespect. I usually don't get extremely worked up over their wrong behaviors, but when they disrespect us (or others), it has to be stopped.
When I left the room, deep down inside I knew that he didn't know what he was saying. Or, at least I told myself he didn't. I knew that he didn't really mean it. Or, I prayed that he didn't. While I knew there was probably a combination of so many things, and he snapped, there was a big part of me that was just crushed. No, I've never just spent the entire day on the floor being all theirs. I don't know the balance between having my world revolve around their every need, and also not feeling guilty in doing my duties as a wife and homemaker while telling them to play on their own. I struggle with it. But, I do feel that I am a pretty good mom. So, he hit me just where it counted. And, it hurt. Was I a fraud?
When the dust settled, we talked. I reminded him how much I loved him and his siblings and how hurtful words like that can be. We hugged and made up, and life continued. Still I couldn't get his words out of my head, so in trying to make up for "being a fraud" I pulled this out...
And, we finger painted just like they'd been asking me to do for days.
And, fun was had by all. Well, Carter didn't last long as the paint "felt weird" on his hands.
I didn't really do this to reward Carter for what he said. Part of me probably had to convince myself a little that I wasn't a fraud. I do want to spend time with my kiddos. I do want them to have a wonderful childhood. Sometimes I just don't know exactly what that means. More than anything, I want them to know how loved they are...and never to doubt it.
So, that sometimes means hard days...or weeks. It means correction and discipline even when it's hard to do. It means making mistakes (all of us) and praying we learn from them. It means letting go of the guilt...even if it takes reminding ourselves to do so hourly.
That evening Carter went missing. Well, really just not in the room with all of us. When he came out, he said he had something to show me. I walked into his room, and it was spotless. He had picked up everyone's toys, made all the beds, folded all the blankets, etc. He was showing me he was sorry in his own way. He asked if he could sit by me for dinner. From there he got his sister ready for bed (I've never asked him to do that). And he said numerous times before the day ended that I was the "best mom ever." His little heart was in the right place...he just had a bad day. Don't we all?!