The baby blues, how they blow. I’m going to say that’s what this is. I hit a wall late afternoon and alacazam, I can’t handle the sound of a baby crying. Not at all. But that’s not the only thing that happens. I lose all resiliency. Any little thing grates on my nerves and later on I’m crying for really no reason at all. I feel totally overwhelmed, not up to this, and I dread Monday, when Luuk goes back to work and I’m on my own with the two kids all day long. Everything seems sad and difficult and never-ending. I suppose this is how depression feels. A little depression, I suppose. I’ve witnessed more serious depression and I’m nowhere near that.

I’ve never been sad much. To my understanding depression is usually something you tend toward, really no matter what’s going on in your life, or it’s something triggered by an event… to my limited understanding that is. I’m lucky, I guess. Through no virtue of my own I tend toward happiness, and no trauma has knocked me off my natural positive tendency. This is just personality and dumb luck. Some might say it’s blessing or providence but I’m really not convinced that God picks and chooses who gets to be happy, by nature, and who’s going to feel down in the dumps for most of their life. If he does, that scares me a bit. So, for want of a better term, I’m saying it’s by luck that I see the glass half full, most of the time. The point is, I can’t take any credit for my personality, my nature, or many of the other things that might have made me this way; let’s say nurture.

But the whole picture isn’t personality and chance. There’s plenty of stuff I do get to choose, or not. And there are a few things I’m noticing lift me out of the dumps.

– Cooking something interesting – flavourful, healthy and creative – and then eating it before it goes cold. Aye, there’s the rub. My lovely newborn baby girl has incredible timing. Sure, it’ll be handy in a year or so when she wants to eat at the same time as we do, but right now it means a few cold or reheated and limp/chewy dinners.

– Writing some blog, or better, novel. Even just a little bit. I suppose, because it’s creative and it’s not baby-focussed, I come away feeling refreshed and reminded that there’s more to life than motherhood. And if the writing comes easy, I get a burst of ‘yippee, I’m capable!’. If things are going less-than-smoothly with the kids then I quickly start feeling like I’m not really up to it, like I’m not doing a good job of keeping on top of things, being a good mum, etc. Getting a sense of achievement from something else pulls me out of that.

– Cuddles. With one of the babies, preferably while the other sleeps or plays happily by themselves, or with Luuk, preferably while both the babies sleep. Skin-on-skin with Elena is meant to give us both a nice little oxytocin buzz. Can’t hurt!

Playing by himself. With pegs.

– Time out, alone. This is going to be my goal every weekend – to get away by myself for even as little as half an hour. Luuk can handle the two babies by himself and has no need of my micro-managing tendencies, which get worse when I’m feeling the pressure and am over-tired. This morning I walked down to town and got some groceries (supplies for my first point). Even though it was raining, ever so lightly, the entire way there and back again, it felt great. Fresh air and exercise – perhaps that should be the next point – felt so freeing, refreshing.

And there are a few things that keep me down in the dumps, or send me there in the first place.

– crying babies. Both at once is a killer.

– failed attempts at naps. Better not to lie down at all than to be woken/kept from sleep by a crying baby. The trick is waiting till they’re both asleep and have been for long enough that I’m sure (as I ever can be) that they’ll stay that way for a while. The other part of the trick is not waiting too long or one will be due to wake up again.

– staying home for too long and not seeing/talking to anyone outside of my little family circle (only one of whom can talk in actual sentences made up of intelligible words – and lovely conversationalist that he is, that’s a lot of conversational pressure to put on anyone, let alone my beloved, slightly introverted husband). Connecting with other people, even when it’s not in person (like writing this blog, especially when I get responses), is a great mood-lift for me.

– a messy environment. Ah, I hate this one. The solution to this one, rather. Ugh, tidying and cleaning, on top of breastfeeding and tiredness and all those nappies… are you kidding? No thanks. Back in NZ, when we had carpeted floors, Luuk’s job was vacuum cleaning. We had a deal. I hate vacuuming so I don’t have to do it. I have to do other things, but not that. We have wood and tile floors here in our little french apartment, but sweeping and mopping are frustratingly un-thorough. We also have a couple of rugs, one of which is lovely and long-haired… and never really clean. So, Luuk went and bought us a vacuum cleaner. And in a day or two, once it’s arrived, he’s going to use it! Yippee!

And then I’ll clean and tidy. It won’t be done properly before then so what’s the point. (Other than not standing on Louis’ toys… sigh.)

So the goal is to accept that this is a normal thing, a hormone thing, and that I’m not losing it, and I’m not failing abismally at everything, even if it feels that way. I have to keep perspective and keep pulling myself up out of the lows, best as I can, and avoiding them in the first case, if I can manage it. And I need to forgive myself, and be patient with myself as well as with my babies (and probably Luuk too), when all this goes out the window…

But hopefully we can avoid that today! They’re both sleeping now, after all. They won’t be for long, so I’m not going to try for a nap. But I’m reaching out for some connection, I’m writing, I’m eating leftover pizza (not very creative but it is yum, and doesn’t make dishes…) and watching old sitcoms on youtube while I look over my novel notes. If I don’t manage a nap this afternoon, maybe I’ll at least get some novelling done. I only need five or ten minutes at a time to make a little progress on the novel.

It’s a first draft after all.

(Should totally rewrite ‘It’s a small world after all’ with that sentence…)

2 thoughts to “little high, little low

  • Michelle Carshalton

    I know I keep saying it but you do sound like you’re doing so well Amy! Wish I could just pop over for coffee! We’re missing you over here!

  • Alicia

    Love reading your blog Amy. So refreshing to hear someone speak truth about being a mum. I see all the mums on a Sunday at church with perfect kids dressed perfectly, smiling and making small talk without a hint of tiredness and am convinced I could never live up to that, so thanks for telling it straight. Kia kaha. Alicia in NZ

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