Treading Water

<Taps microphone>

Is this thing on? Does it still work? Is anyone out there?

Oh good.

That was a long blog hiatus for me — my longest ever. It wasn’t deliberate. I tried to come back sooner, but everything I typed looked something like this: Louaoiejnfwoiern xoiernwml owerucustiwern. More or less.

I’m a good swimmer. I have been since I was a kid. I know what it’s like to move quickly and effortlessly through chlorine or sea water. And I know what it feels like to stay in one place. To tread water.

Lately I’ve been treading water.

It doesn’t feel unsafe or threatening. It just feels like I’m staying still, putting in a lot of physical effort that is not allowing me to really go anywhere. Effort that has made me bone-tired.

The baby doesn’t sleep. In the ultimate bait-and-switch, he had been pulling ten-hour stretches of sleep for the month of September, and then he turned into the definition what the Internet details as four month sleep regression. Which has since extended into five month sleep regression. Those ten hours a night? Gone. Divided by about five. The kid likes to party.

And not just by moonlight. My sweet boy doesn’t want to miss a thing during the day either. A cat nap here and there, but that’s all the sleeping he’ll do.

Now, let me just say this: This child could not be any sweeter. He is a happy, smiling baby who melts my heart about 846 times a day.

But he won’t sleep and I am the human pacifier. And so I’m irritable and void of short-term memory and probably not completing logical sentences {see previous blog attempt reference above}. Add in two older kids who need me to be on top of my game and it’s more than my normal threshold of chaos here.

I’m forgetting a lot of things. Nothing disastrous. School forms. A bill payment or two. Oh and I’m the jackass mom at elementary school who has met you about five times still does not know your name. I can remember the parking spot we used in my childhood trip to Walt Disney World in 1982 {Goofy A-56}, but can’t recall which of my son’s classmates is your kid. It’s like being the guy from the movie Memento. Maybe I should take Polaroids and tattoo some key reminders to myself.

I’m cranky. And it’s not fair to my kids or my husband. But I am.

I’m behind. On life. Cleaning. Groceries. Laundry. Exercise. Holidays. My email inbox. All of it. Everything. If it is supposed to be happening, and I’m in charge, you can safely file it in the “pending” category, if I’m lucky. More likely, it’s in the “delinquent” file. Here is what the extent of my correspondence looks and sounds like every day:

I’m running late.

I’m running later.

Can we reschedule?

Sorry I missed it.

Was that today?

I misplaced it.

When is the deadline again?


Because I’m here, treading water. Watching my limbs moving — somewhere between fluidly and feverishly — yet staying in one place. To be clear: Not drowning — not even close. But watching the shore and trying to get a little closer.

Most of my kicking and flailing occurs between 4 and 7pm. These three hours, as most of you know, can feel like they last 12 days. The six year-old’s resistance to homework. Me holding flashcards in one hand, with a nursing baby in the other. My four year-old putting an ironic tiara on my head and asking me to play princesses in between first grade number line assignments. And some semblance of dinner prep {I use the term loosely} going very, very poorly in the background.

If I had a webcam hooked up, I’d tell you to grab a seat, a cocktail and some popcorn to watch some pretty compelling reality TV.

My husband has a long commute, so he usually can’t get back in time to help with the bath/bedtime madness. Now and then, he sends a text with the most magical and life-altering string of words: “Caught an earlier train.”  It’s not often, but sometimes it happens and it’s the world’s best surprise. Sort of like me taking the vacuum out of the closet.

Plenty of people have three young kids. Plenty have more. Some swim circles around me and others feel like they are sinking. And some are here with me, hanging tough in the deep end and waiting to feel like we are making progress. Like we are moving forward without kicking quite so hard.

I’m a lucky woman. I have a great family. And I the last thing I want is to wish this time away, because it is fleeting. It will all even out. I know this.

But, in the meantime, let me offer a blanket apology to every person I interact with. I’m sorry for the unreturned emails/texts/phone calls, the missed appointments, the tardiness to any and all things, the fact that I forgot your name again and anything else I’ve missed.

I’ll make it all up to everyone when I’m swimming at full speed again.

So, if you see me, please toss me a pair of swimmies. Or at least a more flattering bathing suit.


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  1. Lori Wescott says:

    Ugh, that’s such a tough spot to be in. I’m not going anywhere. I hope you can get someone to help out so you can at least nap a little every day.
    Treading water is NOT drowning.

  2. I like what Lori said above – Treading water is not drowning. I’ve been where you are. Heck, I don’t have an infant and I still feel like I am where you are! Not every mama is rocking it. Some are just better at faking it. Drink in those smiles, and know hat you are loved – tired, forgetful, late and all!

  3. *throws swimmies in your direction*

  4. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so very much for this post. I am in the same boat as you right now and this is exactly how I feel. I feel such guilt because I feel like I am being a bitch to everyone, especially the little ones who don’t deserve it. My son is 4 months old and was sleeping through the night at 7 weeks and since birth had only gotten up once a night. I know, please feel free to stone me. He is now waking up several times a night. Add to this I’m self-employed and my business is growing at rapid speed for the first time ever and well I just want to cry. I have never felt so inept in my life.

    • fordeville says:

      See, at least I’m not responsible for any income. How you run your own business on top of everything is amazing to me. Hats off. You’re a rock star in my book.

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you 🙂 I don’t think I’m doing it very well, but I’m doing it.

        Hats off to you too Mama. Being a SAHM is the hardest job I ever had. Keep treading, I will do the same!

  5. Kenya says:

    Oh man…. hang in there, well it looks like you are doing that already. It’s life… but I am glad you are taking it in stride. Thinking of you and I will send sleeping baby prayers your way!

  6. Pam says:

    My daughter was also a champion sleeper until we hit 14 weeks and then BAM 4 month sleep regression, it sucked. We did cry it out about a thousand times because every time we’d kind of get it right, we’d go on a trip to mess it up and have to start over. Of course you know it’s all going to be fine because you’ve done this before… Hang in there!

    • fordeville says:

      It’s funny. Either my other kids didn’t have this sleep regression or I totally blocked it out.
      Classic Parental Amnesia.

  7. Carrie says:

    Good Lord, sister…you ain’t alone. And I don’t have a little one. She’s 15. And it’s pretty much the same short of that ‘human pacifier’ part.

    I get drained and exhausted and hate me along with everyone else. I totally blew a fuse the other morning with my husband. It was still dark and I was screaming and ranting like a buffoon IN THE DARK of the house before stomping out to the office.

    And I don’t even know what it was about.

    Somehow, he understood though.

    You’re on the ball way more than you think. WAY more. =)

  8. Anna says:

    I think you have a few more months (maybe even years) grace period for forgotten things and lateness, don’t worry and I hope the little guy returns to championship sleeping soon. Tell him I’m even willing to throw in a trophy.

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks Anna. I suspect the forgetfulness and tardiness will always be there (and perhaps always were, to some extent).

  9. Shan says:

    I have four. The middle two are 11 months apart. I don’t remember at least a year of their “babyhood”….it’s sad but true. This too shall pass.

  10. Sometimes when I get bogged down in my own crap I remind myself that I get a full night’s sleep since my kids are older. I will not complain any more!!
    You will sleep again mama, I promise.

  11. Bethany says:

    I’ve been there so often and, I will be there again. You’re not alone. It’s an incredibly moving phase….the newness, the knowing it’s fleeting, but, it’s the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done. My transition from 2 to 3 felt exactly like this. You’re doing an amazing job. Besides, who wants to pay their bills anyway. Overrated. Love you, Kim.

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