I feel like I’ve taken out a cosmic balloon loan, where you get low payments for years, then, BOOM, you’re hit with a huge bill that causes you enough pain that it far outweighs any smooth sailing you had before. You see, our fourth baby was the easiest baby anyone has ever had (“baby Joy, ” indeed). I actually took her to the doctor once to report with deep concern that she slept peacefully 12 hours a night, took long naps, and interacted with everyone cheerfully and quietly when she was awake. She almost never cried. I felt certain that there must be something wrong; surely babies this easy did not really exist. Little did I know that I had merely been put on some kind of baby temperament balloon loan plan…
And now, my balloon payment has come due.
Baby number five, who is almost fourteen months old now, is the loudest, most screamingist baby in the world — perhaps in the entire history of the world, as well as of any other extraterrestrial worlds that humankind has yet to discover. I am going to get a decibel meter just so that I can prove to everyone that I have been given a special cross in this department. When nothing is bothering her, she’s fine. She’s a normal, happy baby. But as soon as anything goes wrong (like, say, the muscles in my arms giving out after holding her in front of the light switch for 9 minutes as she turns the lights on and off over and over again and exclaims, “YAIGH!!!” [“LIGHT!!!”]), she breaks out the tornado-siren scream. It is five to ten solid minutes of back-arching, red-faced, lung-exhausting noise, only to be started up again if anything else should displease her.
I know that some of you may want to offer helpful suggestions, and I welcome them. But know that I have been extremely incentivized to try it all. I mean, if it would make this baby happy if I carried her around in an upside-down sling while going about my business walking on my hands, I would do it.
Sooo…after I wrote that last take I decided to pause and explore the option of getting a decibel meter for my Android, because, yes, I was THAT serious about getting some solid metrics so that I could quantify my suffering for all to behold (the saints did stuff like this, right?). As soon as my older children saw this glowing meter in which the little red dial moved every time they made noise, they begged to get some time with this enchanting device. I said sure, as long as they went out into the garage. We are, after all, homeschoolers. I could send them off with this thing and consider it to be at least a couple of days’ worth of science lessons.
What I had not considered, however, is that there is really no way to make an extremely loud noise that is also a happy one. I came downstairs to hear the same noises I would encounter if a horror movie were being filmed in our house. The kids were out in the garage making these hideous shrieking terror-noises, with as much volume as their lungs and their vocal chords would allow. It then occurred to me that our garage is not at all soundproof. Thus, in addition to all the other craziness our neighbors see coming from this house, they are now puzzling over what on earth was going on in our garage of horrors.
I am officially ready to come out as someone who absolutely depends on having some babysitting help in order to function. I don’t mean that I need a professional nanny with 30 years of experience or that I need full-time help. But can I survive without a few hours a week of an extra pair of hands in the form of the daughters of family friends? I’ve been running that experiment for the past two weeks, and the answer is a resounding NO. At least not in this phase of life.
I’ve realized recently that I can deal with any two of the following three situations:
- A husband who regularly needs to work long hours.
- A temporary combination of kids’ ages and temperament which means I can never seem to get them to do naps/quiet time at the same time during the day.
- No babysitting help.
There have been plenty of times when I had #1 and #2 going on, and a long stretch when we suffered through #2 and #3, but this is the first time in recent memory that I’ve had all three for any significant length of time. And I’m not sure that I’ll survive it.
If there has been any positive element to all this, it’s that it’s given me a deep and profound sympathy for moms who have all three of the above situations going on, but are unable to change any of them. I’ve been praying for them and offering up all my whiny suffering for them!
It is during times like this that I rely on my favorite mom blogs like other people rely on air. When I actually get a free moment, instead of paying bills or going through email or pretending that I actually did see the mound of Cheerios poured out on the kitchen floor, I flop in front of my computer and read my “keepin’ it real” blogs and weep to know that someone else understands my life. I mean, at this point Ana of Time Flies could post a notice that she now demands a $100/month subscription fee in order for readers to have access to her posts, and I would just have to pay it. Same thing with Grace and Dwija and Cari and a bunch of others that I would type out if I had enough energy to continue to operate my keyboard.
I suppose at some point my husband might notice that I had cut meat and vegetables and legumes and fruit out of our grocery list, and perhaps might wonder why we now only ate tiny cups of rice for dinner each night. But when I explained that I was using the hundreds of dollars per month that I used to spend on food to be able to read my favorite websites, he would surely gaze into my eyes and say, “Honey, I don’t want food. I just want you to have access to your favorite mommy blogs.”
I know that nobody wants me to stop talking about this, and you’re all yearning for more details about the way in which my suburban first-world life is difficult for me right now, but I am going to tear you away from this scintillating subject to tell you about a great book I recently discovered: Moved by Faith: Stories of American Catholic Radio.
I was sent a copy of this book since my story appeared in it after I was on Judy Zarick’s radio program, and I was amazed by how good it was. When it arrived in the mail I thought I would just flip through it and get back to whatever I’d been doing, but I ended up sitting down and reading half the book in one sitting. Each story is brief (in fact, my only complaint about the book is that some of the stories are too brief — I wanted to know more!) and shares a moment of God working powerfully in someone’s life. If you’re looking for a quick but powerful end-of-summer read, you can’t go wrong with this one.
The BlogHer network contacted me recently, saying they were interested in syndicating a post I’d written. I have to admit that I was surprised when they said that the one they wanted was my story of my recent conversation with my gay friend about Catholic teaching on human sexuality. The viewpoint I expressed there is not always a popular one, and so I never expected a secular network to pick it up. But BlogHer has always maintained that they are interested in hearing all different perspectives on the big issues of our day, and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen them follow through on that. So thanks to the gals at BlogHer for syndicating my post, and bringing the discussion on this most heated of issues over to their place. You can read the post at their place here.