Sep 20, 201309:39 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Thoughts from a Bogged Down Mom

Close to paradise?

I have been struggling with gratitude lately. I don’t really know why, except maybe that it was my birthday on Monday, and I still kind of act like a spoiled brat on my birthday. Also, Georgia has been sick with hand, foot, mouth disease, and between her misery and my lack of sleep, I have just been in a mood.

I think it started when I read something a fellow mommy blogger had written about how her living room was a mess and her kids were screaming but how she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. I get that sentiment; I really do. I feel that way myself most of the time. But not that night. “Ugh,” I thought, looking at my own messy living room and listening to my own screaming kids. “I can think of 100 places I would rather be than right here right now: the beach, the bookstore, a quiet room, taking a solitary drive in the country – anywhere but here on my stained sofa with a teething, sick toddler and a feisty, sassy 6-year-old who doesn’t want to do her math homework, with ketchup smeared on my pajama pants and ranch dressing smeared on the ottoman and snot (not my own) smeared on my T-shirt and the TV blaring the same episode of Yo Gabba Gabba I have seen 87 times this week alone.”

Then a friend of mine emailed me the day after my birthday, partially to wish me a happy birthday and partially to ask if I liked the timing of my birthday because she and her husband were contemplating starting a family and September was “the only month that would work” for them. That kind of mindset makes me a little bit angry and a little bit jealous and a little bit smug and a little bit sad and really a little bit of everything. My very first due date was actually my own birthday, but that pregnancy ended 14 weeks along, and I had Ruby four days before Christmas, something I never would have planned. The idea that someone could be so … naïve? hopeful? delusional? … as to think that having a baby is really just as easy as picking the date that works best for you, counting back nine months, and having sex – I don’t know. I think it was more my crummy mood than anything, but I didn’t feel gratitude for the two little miracles that I brought into the world with the help of almost 1,000 injections of blood thinner so much as I felt an urge to write back, “If you’re that much of a control freak, just don’t have kids.” I think I will write a kinder, gentler version of that soon – her question was meant in a good way, and she is a good person, but giving up any sense of control is really a crucial step in both pregnancy and parenting – but I was just cranky. Definitely cranky.

I knew I needed an attitude adjustment when Georgia woke burning up and crying hysterically at 3 a.m. and my first emotion was a stab of envy as I thought of the Catholic priest I was set to interview the following day. I am not all that religious, honestly, but when you’re struggling to administer a rapidly melting Tylenol suppository to a screaming, miserable infant in the middle of the night, a quiet child-free life of contemplation starts to seem at least a little bit appealing.

I tried, repeatedly, to tell myself I was being a jerk for not being more grateful for the wonderful things in my life: my beautiful, charming daughters; my sweet, funny stepson; my brilliant husband who cooks and cleans and rocks the baby to sleep and makes me laugh a lot; my dad who is 75 and robustly healthy and volunteers as a notary at the public library; my awesome mom who watches my kids all the time and fields my frantic phone calls and works with at-risk youth; my in-laws who are generous with their time and affection; my home in a safe neighborhood; a grocery budget that allows for fresh fruit and veggies and organic milk. I am extremely fortunate. I know this. Somehow, though, knowing you should be grateful doesn’t always translate into gratitude. When I was pregnant, for example, I knew how lucky I was and how much I wanted my babies. But gratitude was hard to come by when a Red Lobster commercial made me puke into my lap or bruises from the blood thinner made my entire stomach a gross purply-blue. The overall gratitude for what I had was there; it was just buried under the unpleasant but very real details.

In the midst of my bad attitude last night, though, Ruby mysteriously disappeared for about 10 minutes, and when she came back into the (messy) living room, the front of her shirt was soaking wet.

“I know you’re tired because the baby isn’t sleeping, Mom, so I did the dishes for you,” she said.

I went in to the kitchen to find the floor covered in soapsuds, the waterlogged sponge dripping off the counter and dried pasta still clinging to the bottom of the “clean” pot. But Ruby flung her damp self at me, so proud of her attempted good deed, and then feverish Georgia toddled over and held out her arms and said, “Up? Up, Mama? Hug?"

And suddenly, there was no place I would rather be.

Reader Comments:
Sep 20, 2013 11:57 am
 Posted by  WHTREVOR

Your mood may be partially created by your environment: cranky in a messy living room, at peace in the bookstore or at the beach. Kids - especially at Ruby's and Georgia's ages - are full time, constant environmental Katrinas and that won't change until they begin to appreciate order in their lives themselves. Kids require full time, constant following, picking up and cleaning, keeping at it so the mess (a constant to some extent at all times) doesn't get ahead of you (or create any guilt feelings). A seemingly impossible and exhausting task, easier said than done, but even partial success should bring some satisfaction and calm. If every other area of your life is orderly (and it seems to be from your columns, though I haven't seen your desk at work), don't let this home base area get away from you.

My $.02

Sep 20, 2013 02:40 pm
 Posted by  ed1941@msn.com

I am a 72 year old father of two boys and a grandfather x4. My boys were 14 months apart. Your column which I read everytime is so refreshing. I especially enjoy your wonderful descriptions and honesty. Most of all I appreciate your love for your girls despite the agonizing and painful times that accompany childraising.
Thanks for reminding me of how hectic it could be...but also how wonderful it really is in the end!

Sep 20, 2013 03:18 pm
 Posted by  Katrina3117

Well, that'll teach you to be in a bad mood!!!

Sep 20, 2013 04:16 pm
 Posted by  chester1623

Love this column!

Sep 21, 2013 03:51 pm
 Posted by  LShipp

Thanks, Eve, for making me - another mom feeling a little cranky on her birthday - laugh. Love your columns.

Sep 23, 2013 02:20 pm
 Posted by  another mom

My 2 year old just got over hand foot mouth (Fun fact: it's also called Cox-Sackie virus, but I just call it booger rash.) As a friend pointed out to me, at least it's not lice. well thank goodness for that & i agree - these columns are great.

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.

She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.

Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.

Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."

She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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