It seems like after the birth of my last 2 children, I have some remarkable moments where I realize God it really helping me. After George was born, I had one day when 2 moms, one a total stranger, both said to me to lower my expectations in order to survive and deal with all the kids. Another day, I encountered a mom with 3 kids in the store (I had a tendency to accost moms in HEB who looked like they had kids really close together asking them for 'expert' advice). Her kids were as close as mine but 2-3 years older. When I told her how close mine were she responded, "Oh, you're going to LOVE IT!" I wanted to punch her. She admitted that it'd be hard now, but she said, it's going to be so great, you're going to make it. Either her or another mom reminded me that so much can change in just 6 months. For me to remember that, in just 6 months it can be very different, often better. These 2 days (plus the right drugs, therapy, and prayer) really helped me to cope through a rough year.
Today, I met another mom, again in the HEB. My mother came to watch the kids and help out for a day. So I took 1 month Maggie, in the wrap, to the store. Near the milk, I started to pass another mom. She looked a bit disheveled but not a complete wreck, but she also had a tiny baby in a wrap. We noted each other, I walked closer and gave a, "How ya doing?" along with a sympathetic look that wrapped together all the unspoken words of "Oh my gosh, can you believe we're doing THIS??? Going to the grocery store with these tiny babies. Mere DAYS after giving birth!?!?!" My baby was 1 month, hers was 3 weeks! She said she was doing ok and asked about me. I said, Ok, but this is my 4th (as though I'm some sort of wonderful super mom with 4 kids all of a sudden *thick sarcasm*). She said it's her FOURTH, TOO! We congratulated each other on THAT note and I asked if she had to remind herself of how young the baby was. She said, Yes! In kind of the way that I have to remind myself, "it's ok to be tired, baby is only 4 weeks old!"
She asked how old my other children were. "5, 3, and 2." "Oh," she said, "you sound just like us." (AAAHHHH!!!! Fireworks in my head!!! EXCITED!!!) Her kids were almost 5, 3, and 21 months. I stood there kind of dumbfounded (I think she was, too) and I said, "um, ya want to do something??" So we exchanged numbers. It almost feels like a weird form of dating and no one's exactly created the correct protocol. There's no Emily Post page about Stay at Home mom's discovering companions between the yogurt and milk in the grocery store while our newborns snooze on our chests and we're each desperately excited to discover someone else who has detached from the norm of society and produced many children in a short period of time thus experiencing the same form of crazy babies, diapers, pregnancy, kids at home whirlwind telling you the proper way to ask if the other mom wants to join her crazy gang to your crazy gang for playing or be willing to help you when she probably needs just as much help herself. I told her if the day felt crazy and she needed a break, she could just bring them over (all hers are boys) and come to a house that's probably just as messy as hers (probably worse) and she can nurse the baby while all the kids go off together. If she just needs somewhere else to be or someone else to talk to.
I hope she does call, or I call her. She said they moved to town in the fall and will move from their rental place to a permanent place in 2 weeks. I hope I don't forget.
The other great encounter, today, was from a friend who brought us dinner. When George was born, I often had moments when everyone would be crying at the same time. Most of the time, that included me. Jane and Michael would find some way to need me exactly when George was screaming his worst and needed to nurse. I always felt like I was going insane in those moments. I just wanted to scream at all of them and felt like everything was falling apart, starting with me. I often felt so messed up I would call Tony to beg him to come home.
But then, the moment would pass. Without injury, often involving food, but mostly time and prayer, it would pass. Waiting, talking, praying, breathing, the moment would pass.
Then I would realize that everyone's ok. I'd think, "Wow, that was pretty horrible there for a bit, but I made it and now there's peace." Everyone is ok and I survived. I named the bad time, "My moment of crazy."
I must have told some other moms about it because our friend that brought dinner reminded me, today. She also had 3 babies in less than 3 years (closer than my babies) and is now pregnant with her 4th. She said that she thinks of 'my moment of crazy' a lot and has to remind herself "it's only a moment, it's only a moment, I can get through this." I never thought that my post partum anxiety-depression moments could actually help someone else, but it has. The moments of crazy have been major learning experiences. Now we know that when Jane is at her ultimate worst, screaming, crying, that's when she is within mere seconds of actually falling asleep. It's when I really want to scream at her or spank her silly, but instead, I start praying a decade of Hail Mary's (if I remember, or I just wait her out in silence). If she's not asleep when I'm done, pray another decade and she's most likely out by the end of it.
Moms need to talk to other moms, even the strangers in the grocery store. Share the worst experiences even if it's to say, "but I made it!" The Holy Spirit is working through us. Now, I'm going to set a reminder in my calendar to call that other mom before I forget, again...is tomorrow too soon? Where's "The Rules" book for calling the stranger you accosted in the milk department?