It was no more than 30 seconds after I saw those two pink lines that I started calculating, dreaming, visualizing. Nine months would put me at the beginning of June, earlier than Hutt's maternity leave, but still summer, still nice weather. Even if the baby came early, we should be able to spend our days outside, going for walks to look for cows, playing in the yard, and maybe, if it got really hot, pulling out the sprinklers. On rainy, chilly days we'd go to the library or to the children's museum.
Oh, I was so looking forward to this time off to spend with my kiddos. I knew there would be an adjustment period, just like there was when Keaton joined us and again when Hutton joined us. I had no expectations for those first few weeks, but after that? Then we'd have fun.
Then we had the fire and suddenly my dreams for our time together were flipped upside down. We wouldn't be in our home. Our yard would be pretty torn up. There wouldn't be daily walks to see cows and we'd only be able to get those sprinklers out once the water was re-hooked up. The yard at the duplex is small and close to a road, which the boys aren't used to. We can't even go to the library because I lost my card and my license, neither of which I've had time to replace.
I tried hard to be okay with the fact that this time together wouldn't be exactly as I dreamed, and in spite of it all, I was determined to make the most of it.
And we did, at the beginning. The first two weeks didn't really count. Nolan and I were in and out of the hospital that first week and my mom was here the second. But the third and fourth weeks were good. We had our moments and days, but overall, they were good.
Then something changed. I hate calling it postpartum depression because then I feel like it somehow places the blame on this pregnancy and this baby (even though in my head I know that is completely insane) and while my hormones have most certainly been affected by the pregnancy/birth I believe there is more at play here. I'm so overwhelmed by life. The house is getting close, but there is still so much to do. I'll be back to work before we are able to move back in and I dread the packing and unpacking. I still have thank yous coming out my ears and the inventorying. I haven't touched it for months, I just haven't had time. Thankfully Collin has been working on it but we still have so much to go. Rooms upon rooms to go. We're six months in, and only have six months left to finalize all of this and I'm so scared we're not going to get it all done. Thinking about it practically gives me panic attacks.
But panic attacks would be preferable to what has been going on lately. My poor kids. I'm so stressed out and I've been taking it out on them. I have no patience with them, I yell, scream, I've been spanking all too frequently. When they fight I rip them apart and raise my voice. When I ask them to do/not do something and they don't listen I've been grabbing them, sometimes much too hard. On more than one occasion I've been scared I'm going to hurt them.
Last week my patience hit an all time low and the screaming, grabbing, etc. hit an all time high. After one run-in with Keaton (it seems to happen more with him than Hutt because we are so much alike) I went down stairs, laid on the bed and thought, I am a horrible mother, my kids would be better off without me. And in that moment, I contemplated suicide.
Yesterday Busha came to watch the boys while I took our car in to get fixed. A minute before she arrived the two oldest started fighting and I lost my temper and was yelling and pulling them apart and when she walked in I couldn't decide if I wanted to bolt, get the hell out of here and never come back, or apologize profusely, feeling so bad leaving her here with these three.
I did leave, and I did return, and I did worry the entire time I was gone. But when I walked back in the door two hours later the boys were at the table playing with stickers and the baby was sleeping and there was an amazing sense of calm in our house. Something I have not felt for weeks. Busha is kind of like the Super Nanny and when she walked in that door yesterday morning she brought with her order and peace. Even though she was planning on leaving to run errands when I got home, I spilled to her that things weren't going well, that I have been yelling and spanking, that while I've always had a temper, this, THIS even scares me and that I planned to ask the doctor when I go in this week to medicate me because I just can't do this anymore.
We talked, I explained the behavior problems we've been having, (hitting, talking back, yelling, not listening to directions - pretty much they are modeling what they are seeing, oh surprise, surprise!) and we devised a plan. Back to the basics of parenting. Giving the kids a warning, counting to three, timeouts when they don't listen. For now I'll sit with them in time out because it's not working for them to stay by themselves and when they get up then I get madder and things escalate and get worse. When they have calmed down and are ready to apologize for what they did wrong, they can get up. We also need to get them back on a routine during the day with a strict bedtime schedule (another thing that has been lax lately and then causing Collin and I to both be upset with them) at night.
Busha stayed for a couple more hours and we put some of this in motion and oh my gosh, the past day and a half have been a 180 degree difference. I love my kids! I mean, I always knew I loved them, but you know, I LOVE them again. They are still little shits and they have still been doing naughty things and I'll admit I lost my temper once last night and again this afternoon (but only raised my voice, no spanking, which is at least an improvement) but within just 24 hours I've seen a huge difference, in them and, maybe more importantly, in me.
While things felt so out of control yesterday morning, this afternoon I feel like we are back on track, at least with this one little slice of life. I know it will take time to reestablish all of the discipline that has been lost, but we're taking it back to the basics, and gosh darn it, we're going to enjoy these last two and a half weeks before our time together is over.