Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Picture Perfect?

When Addison was first born, Matt and I were living in a crummy little apartment in Huntsville, Alabama. We had just sold our beautiful house set out on a half acre of land, in preparation for our move back to Texas, which was still 4 months away. It was cold and yucky outside a lot of the time, and our two big dogs (and me) were feeling cooped up. I hadn’t been able to walk them much while pregnant, because our complex was by a pond with lots of ducks and geese, and having two 75 pound animals charging to the ends of their leashes chasing birds was not a safe activity for me at the time (or really, at any time!). And after Addie was born, I was recovering from a C-section, and had to take the baby with me everywhere anyways, so we just didn’t get out much at all. I was exhausted in general and a new mom, and I felt like I was living in a little dark cold cocoon, and it was all I could do to just take care of the baby and maybe manage to do laundry and cook. It was a real state of limbo in a lot of ways, waiting for the holidays, waiting to go house hunting, waiting to buy a house, waiting to pack, waiting to move, waiting for Addison to get older and more aware, waiting to heal from my C section, etc.

It just so happened that the family living next to us consisted of girl younger than me, her husband, and their three boys, ages 4, 2, and newborn, born right before Addison. They had moved to Huntsville from Virginia (I think) and were in the apartment temporarily while searching for a house to buy. I talked to her occasionally, and could sometimes hear her baby crying in the night through our paper-thin walls (I’m sure she heard Addie too). She always seemed calm and collected when I’d see her outside, and I was surprised at how well she managed her kids. Well, one afternoon, she called me on the phone and asked if I had a package of yeast she could borrow. It sounds odd, but what is odder is that I actually did have some. I was still in my pajamas (flannel pants and a sweatshirt and thick novelty socks), but I didn’t care. I shoved my feet into some old ratty houseshoes, put on a knit ski hat (it was COLD outside) and put Addie in the depths of her sling and shuffled next door. I don’t think I had even brushed my hair that day. My neighbor (I can’t remember her name for the life of me, so let’s call her June (as in Cleaver)), opened the door wearing a matching sweatsuit and a Christmas apron, with her hair neatly pulled back and piled on her head in a twisty bun. Her four year old was sitting quietly on the couch reading a book, her two year old was sitting quietly on the floor in a corner playing trains, and her 5 week old son was laying quietly on the floor under one of those floor-gym things, looking at his toys dangling. Did I mention that the living room was completely spotless? And fully decorated for Christmas? And she was making homemade bread - her hands were covered with flour. She was 24 years old.

I handed her the yeast and just stood there staring, then finally managed to say that I couldn’t believe she was brave enough to immerse her hands in bread dough, because I could barely open a box of cereal without some crisis occuring with Addison that required my literal hands-on help. I then commented on her well-behaved children and the fact that her house was clean and decorated and just how perfect the whole scene was. I was such a mess in every way, and I could never imagine that my life would be so calm and collected. It certainly never had been even before kids! She just laughed and said it wasn’t that big of a deal, and that I was a new mom who was still learning everything. She assured me that my life would eventually get some order to it, and said that things were usually not nearly so calm – I had just caught her at a good moment. I walked back home wondering if she was some magic lady from Good Housekeeping, or if I was just a really big slacker and needed to pull myself together.

I think it was a little bit of both, actually. My house has never resembled hers, and I have never made homemade bread. However, having a newborn this time around has been markedly less stressful, physically and emotionally. I don’t know if I am just more used to it, or Ryan is a better baby, or my mind and body knows that I have to deal with a 2 year old as well as a baby, so it just steps up and does it. But I do know that things have definitely been much easier than I anticipated, and this morning I had a (very) brief moment of calm that resembled what I have held in my mind as the epitome of stay-at-home momness:

Note the mess surrounding Addison, and no, I was not baking bread at the time. And I am still in my pajamas even as I write this (and my novelty socks don’t even match!)

But my two kids were quietly playing, and I was happy!!


  1. Love your post! I feel that way sometimes when there are moms with more than one kid and their house is together and they are involved in so many things. Sometimes I think, how can the house get so dirty with just one kid? If you figure out the secret, let me know.

    I think more importantly, like you said, is to be happy. I look forward to adjusting to the 2 kid life. I'm just waiting...

  2. You crack me up moo. I so feel that way about my sister in law and get frustrated how everything she does seems perfect and graceful. Whenever I see people like that I have to imagine the door closing on their home and chaos ensuing to make myself feel better.
    I also am a walking disaster as you know. Glad to know that two isn't always as hard as everyone says it is.