Missing it


Tabi Melhorn graduated from Bellwood-Antis in 2011. She is a mother of two who lives in Philipsburg. Her blog is entitled That Blonde Mom.

This is a text message I sent to my husband a few weeks ago…

Tabi Melhorn
Tabi Melhorn

“So my morning went like this: You left for work and IJ started screaming at the door because she was upset you left. (I needed to leave in 40 mins for an appointment for Adi, and was on a time sensitive mission so IJ could nap at Seth’s office during it.) When I finally got IJ calm and fed her some applesauce, she thew half of it on the floor. I cleaned it up, and put her shoes on. Then I needed to nurse Adi, but she decided she wanted to fight me on that for some reason, and then had a blowout diaper all at once. Then she cried while I changed her,  which upset IJ, and they both then started crying. By this time I’m about 10 mins behind when I wanted to leave. So I’m frustrated, and finally Adi eats, but IJ needed to sit right on my lap too while I do this. During which, she fell off, and screamed, and threw her shoes. One of which hit Adi and she started to cry again. So I put Adi in her car seat, and carry out both girls to the car. Finally, I have everyone settled and quiet. We are ready to go… when I realized I don’t have my keys. So then I go inside only to not find them and come out to the car to bring the girls in since we can’t leave. Everyone is now crying again. I bring IJ inside first and she screams at the door until I come back in with Adi. When we all reach the dining room, everyone starts to cry again because it’s nap time. And I’m so overwhelmed and frustrated that I, the brain of this insane operation, throw up on the floor. And IJ sits in it before I can put Adi down and clean it up… and now I still have no keys and I’ve missed Adi’s appointment.”

Seriously. That was my morning. That was the way a few mornings after it went until I started to figure out the process of mornings with two babies.

Now I know the science to it. I am a seasoned veteran in the war of two under two. I can smell when the madness is about to strike, I can sense when the storms are brewing. I know when tantrums over needing a snack and making her take her sisters pants off her head (this was an actual argument), and the other one needing to be nursed RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND or I will scream and frustrate myself over not eating so that even when you try to feed me I will be too worked up to cooperate, are coming. There’s a sixth sense I’ve developed about these things as most mothers do.

Now I know the science to it. I am a seasoned veteran in the war of two under two.

This is not to say I have any control over the craziness, oh no. It is to say that I can brace myself for impact. I can predict what’s about to happen, because toddlers and babies are creatures of habit. Even their curiosity is predictable. I can always feel it coming. However, this predictability has also often been my downfall, as I find myself with a pessimistic outlook on each day. I know the house will be sprinkled with toys, I know my dinner will have to be shared with my mooching toddler or interrupted by a baby needing nursed, I know any plans I have may need abandoned by someone needing a nap, or a boo-boo kissed, or a poppy diaper begging to be changed… I predict the tragedies ahead, and wait for them like a cobra for prey, missing each good thing that passes me by. I have come to find myself loosing out on all the good moments, waiting for a disaster to need my attention. I have not enjoyed playful giggles and cuddles, because I am too concerned with someone spilling a cup or knocking over a pile of clean laundry. I have lost out due to my incessant need to hold it together.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to be the opposite (also not a great thing). I assumed every moment would be perfect. Of course my baby would be fine at a football game with hundreds of screaming fans two hours past bedtime! Of course a 3 course meal with a 6 month old would be tearless! Oh how very naive I was. Thus, began my downfall. I assumed each outing would end in disappointment. That I would NEVER enjoy a dinner out, or a movie again. That I would NEVER sit through a worship service with my husband again. That I would NEVER be free of crying, or tantrums, or whatever else, again. I introduced myself to a very real enemy: expected disappointment. 

So how do I let go? What can be done? How can I untrain my mind from expectancy of disappointment? To stop predicting oncoming madness so that I can embrace the good moments in between the tailspins??

Last night, I took my daughters to a skit night at my old high school. My baby brother is a senior this year, and was acting in a skit for the homecoming court. I changed both babies before I went in, nursed my youngest, and gave my oldest a sippy cup of milk. I came prepared. I was determined to see his skit. Even now as I look back on it, I find myself saying, “I should have known it would be that way…”. Just as the show started, the squirming of my 18-moth old began. She was bored with the talking, bored with sitting still, just bored because, hey, she’s a toddler. I refused to be embarrassed by her, and so I scooped her up and took her to the back leaving my youngest asleep in her car seat with my mother. I rushed by the seats behind me in the auditorium. I focused on each disapproving face I passed, wondering what they thought of my parenting choices. We reached the doors of the auditorium and I felt the enemy come dredging his way up again, impending disappointment. I sat on the steps as my toddler squealed for joy at her freedom to run about and look at the “pretty pretty” flowers on the colorful murals. And I was missing it. I look at my pitiful self now and want to slap myself, I was missing a silly moment with my playful daughter because I was drowning my sorrows in a “woe is me” dance because I wasn’t getting to watch a high school skit. I was thinking how sad I was to never get to sit through anything, instead of embracing the hug my little girl was trying to give me… I was missing it.

After she had settled herself we went back inside and I got to see the skit my brother was in. As I sat in my seat I whispered to my mother, “Now you just wait. I have one settled, so I bet you the other will start to cry now.” And I was right. Immediately after his skit ended, my youngest did cry and I had to leave the room again to stifle her. Again, marching past the wandering eyes of other judging parents with quiet children looking head perfectly seated. Saddest of all, I missed the real joy of watching my brother’s silliness, and my older daughter watching him happily, because I was on hold with myself waiting to intercept the next cry from my youngest. I was missing everything by trying to FIX everything.

I went back to my mother’s house after that and had a good cry. The girls were both asleep and I had exhausted myself with my drive for perfection. I was draining the good out of each moment because I was waiting to pounce on whatever would need to be “handled” next. This is not just how I lived yesterday, if I’m being honest, but how I have lived for a very long time. I have been strangled to death by my enemy of impending disappointment, and upon each revival of myself I crawl back to him again. I have missed out for a long time. 

A few weeks ago, after my oldest had gone to bed, i looked at my husband and said “we should go out tonight”. How long had it been since we’d gone out after 8?? My sister was home with us, so we had a sitter on hand. We quickly dressed up, packed up our newborn, and headed out. I remember sitting in the car as we drove to town, debating where to eat, and already missing out on the quiet company of my husband, by worrying that the baby would wake up and I would loose my mind because she can be difficult to settle again. We arrived to the restaurant and I remember the waitress commenting on our now awake baby being so well behaved. “She’s just showing off for you,” I said in my ever snarky flair, but deep down, I knew I sort of meant that. I was waiting for my child to explode and ruin my date. I ordered a drink and took a single sip, and then it began. The tension in my spine, the tingle in my clenched fists. She was crying. She was ruining everything. I should have known how stupid it was to want a nice evening out. People are looking at me. Who brings a baby to dinner this late? Are you stupid? My husband offered to help, but I would handle it. I can handle anything, everything. I maneuvered through tables quickly to a quiet bathroom stall. I nursed her through her screams. Finally, having quieted her, I returned to the table and sat her in her car sat. The crying began again. Finally my husband took her out of my angry hands and held her contently as he ate his food. I shoved mouthfuls of now cold chicken into my mouth and sneered at my child. How could she do this to me? I took it as a personal attack. Each time the waitress returned, the baby would have just settled, and would coo for her. The waitress again saying how sweet she was. I was seething. She likes EVERYONE but me. I threw a pity party to my husband for myself the whole dinner. I ask myself now, who REALLY ruined the date? I am ashamed at who the true child was.

Near the end of the meal, my husband said something that was very simple, and yet carried a huge weight: “It won’t always be this way.” I looked around the restaurant, quietly. I saw mostly older couples stealing glaces at our baby, and I realized they longed for these days from one to degree to another. These moments would pass. Not just the frustrating moments that would soon be gone, but all the sweet newborn moments along with them… I was missing it. Always missing them. 

Today is a new day. I woke up with an urge to write and saw the text message above that I’d saved to later, hopefully, give myself a good laugh. I thought about how upset I’d been last night, and the night before… and for many too many nights since I can last remember and I decided today would be new. I would expect interruptions, but not disappointments. I am finding a true difference between the two. As I sat down to write this today, each paragraph I finished led to refilling a sippy cup, taking a pause to nurse a newborn in need of comfort, tickle fights with my oldest, changing 3 diapers, and laying one down for a nap. I did it all in a remarkably long amount of time, and today I wasn’t angry about it. I didn’t throw a tantrum when my oldest threw one, or cry when my youngest cried. I took my time. I enjoyed today. I refused to miss out!  I knew when I sat down to write, it was invitation to my toddler to need to sit on mommy’s lap, and when she was finally relaxed, it invited my youngest to need rocked. There is an endlessness to motherhood some days, but today I remembered: it would end. There is relief and sadness in it. So I embrace today for all it’s craziness that will come, but without expecting disappointment in those crazy moments.

I think back to the day after my oldest was born. I got up early that morning at the hospital and showered. I did my hair and makeup. I got back into bed and ordered breakfast. I nursed my new perfect baby and rocked her back to sleep while I sang a lullaby quietly in her sweet ear. It is imprinted in my mind. Everything was easy. I remember most my husband watching me in action, in my new role, in awe. He looked up with adoring eyes,“You’re good at this.” I had no idea what I was doing, and yet I did. I was made to do this. To be mother.

Today, I choose this role again, to be mother. I am good at this. I will enjoy this, because It won’t always be this way.