Just Relax!

I now have to go to physical therapy after that car struck me on Monday, November 4th. It is a whole new world for me. Physical therapists and chiropractors may have two of the most directly rewarding jobs. Healing people with focused, physical touch. Connecting with them as they help restore. Teaching them how to use their bodies. So much better than being chained to a cubicle.

One of my physical therapists told me to lie down and let my neck fall into his hands.

“Relax. Let go.”

“I’m still resisting? Am I holding my neck up on my own?”

“Yes, you’re not letting your neck fall all the way. You’re using your own strength.”

I’ve been wanting to write about the effects of remaining in a state of perpetual UNrest and boom, the perfect metaphor falls into my, er, neck. I haven’t been able to fully exhale for what feels like all of 2013, though I’m sure I’ve stolen moments, even half-days, here and there. But now, there is such a deficit that even when I score me some time thanks to my co-parent, it doesn’t feel like enough. Just a drop in the bucket.

I’m sure there is a cost to not relaxing.

When I was pregnant with my first, I was given a heads up only about the newborn stage: the sleep deprivation, the poop, and the nursing. Countless “your life will never be the same’s,” but very few details from the trenches. Perhaps it didn’t make sense to warn about stages to come because it would be too premature (and too scary) when I hadn’t popped the baby out yet. So subconsciously, I may have thought that after a steep learning curve IN THE BEGINNING, order would be restored once they were out of the new puppy stage.

In some ways, it’s true. I feel like a pro raising my second baby boy into toddlerhood. I feel an out-of-body experience when I watch and hear myself share my experiences with pregnant women who ask me what it’s all like. I’m able to drop a deuce while the nearly-three-year-old and one year old watch “Little Einsteins” in harmony.

But I’m also finding that each stage gives way to a different set of needs. You can’t be on cruise control just because you’re out of the urgent newborn stage.

Preparing pureed baby food is replaced with disciplining and learning what triggers tantrums.

Packing the diaper bag with extra diapers and emergency outfits is replaced with repeatedly reassuring toddler that there is nothing scary about pooping in the potty and begging him to let Mommy/Daddy pick out his outfits without passionate protest.

Changing diapers ’round the clock soon evolves into changing diapers every now and then but replaced with vigilantly watching to make sure little dude doesn’t climb the lamp and daredevil himself off the desk.

Baby gets old enough to sit in a highchair at a restaurant but also gets nimble enough to Houdini off the tablecloth right from under the plates and table settings.

I am so tired. That is why I am so in awe of single parents and families of five or more. Not ALL large families, mind you, but large families who do it well, maintaining a solid marriage and mental/emotional health. Mommies who are able to care for their families while still keeping their own dreams alive.

I had another first after my first experience with physical therapy.

Ellis cried awake next to me in his crib at 6 am. I brought him into our bed and allowed him to nurse while I tried to sleep a little bit more. We are in the process of weaning but due to his getting sick and my craving rest, I allow him to nurse whenever, though it is turning out to be mostly mornings and ungodly hours. No rush to wean at all.

Kevin had already been summoned onto the wooden floor of Micah’s tiny closet-room earlier when he screamed awake, calling for Daddy in the middle of the night (a habit we are too tired to break since he started doing this scream-wake in August).

Thunderous crash. A baby wailing.

Where am I? Who am I? Omigod, I had drifted. Reality check: I’m not only in my 30s but creeping towards the big 4-0 (GASP!) and that baby is MY baby crying!

Ellis had crashed headfirst onto our wooden floor after doing his bed acrobatics. Before this, I had always been able “sleep” with one eye sensing my child, like a ninja, sleeping a light, nasty, unrestful sleep while catching baby by the ankle whenever he tried to be a daredevil.

Today, my baby fell off the bed because I had relaxed into a real slumber for a few minutes, even dreaming that I was meeting my friend’s boyfriend while we were in our 20s (both of us married with a kid or two in real life).

This has NEVER happened before.

Reminds me of how people talk about self-care and how the Earth won’t stop rotating just because you relax and take pause. (What is that actual phrase? Anyone?)

The Earth will continue to go about its business but your baby will come crashing down onto the floor.

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4 thoughts on “Just Relax!

  1. Jihee you need to take more time for yourself. Physical therapy doesn’t count as ME time. You poor thing! You are exhausted. I remember that horrible exhaustion when I had Josh and the entire first 9 months I had almost no sleep or even time to poop. I learned quickly that if I didn’t rest and care for myself I couldn’t do a good job caring for him. The physical therapy probably triggered relaxation mode again in your body and it craved more. Don’t worry about Ellis hitting the floor. It happens. Lol. When Alan was watching Josh it happened 3 times! He wasn’t even 1 yet! And he is fine. You are great mom. Give yourself some grace my dear. Xoxo

  2. Oh, no! Poor Ellis. Poor mama. RIte of passage. No kid has made it to adulthood without some kind of head injury, I swear. At this point, all I’m aiming for is that it only happens once to each kid. I steal naps on the regular. I set the girls up with snacks, or let them watch a short thing on the computer, put the baby down with a bunch of crap to play with, and conk out. It never lasts, eventually someone gets mad, someone steals something, someone needs something. But in the meantime, I get fifteen minutes of sleep. I dunno why I’m telling you this, other than just to say, I feel you on the tired. Sweet dreams. 😉

  3. thanks guys. just reread this a couple days later and fixed it a bit so that it reads better. i just read a friend’s blog about her one year at a monastery. talk about learning to fully embrace REST. life-changing.

  4. Aw…the poor little guy. It must have been really traumatic for you as well.
    It stinks that things don’t go smoothly even if you are doing everything right.
    There seems to usually be a wall of resistance. You are a wonderful mother;
    you should not come down hard on yourself for catching a few winks. I sincerely
    hope and pray that E’s stage won’t last must longer.

    J

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