Fragmentation

My children are challenging. I can say that with full confidence now that the baby is two months old. As babies they are so touchy, they won’t sleep unless held perfectly upright and close, bouncing. Then if you bend or twist, they wake up! True for both kids now. The result today has been that while I attempt to take care of my toddler at least a little, I wake up the baby at every 20 minute sleep cycle. He’s awake for about 10 minutes then mad again because he’s tired. Then we struggle through tears to get him back to sleep, and the cycle begins again.

It’s really easy to get angry. My husband takes the baby in the evenings to keep him to sleep, and gets so frustrated never being able to sit still, to constantly need to bounce sitting on the exercise ball to keep him asleep for an hour or so while I eat dinner and get ready for bed. I watch him and it breaks my heart that he’s angry at this poor little baby. Then I have him during the day and get angry too. I get angry because he’s asleep and I think I might read a two-page article, but he wakes up. Or he’s awake, and I think I might just put away dishes, but then he’s crying again.

Somewhere in All Joy and No Fun Jennifer Senior talks about fragmentation, how women tend to take on the chores and household duties where your time is constantly fragmented. One task or one thought never gets finished, and Senior references studies about how this raises stress levels. In the meantime, my stress levels go up because all of this makes me question my parenting. For the baby, am I doing everything I can about diet, sleep, etc. to try to make him feel better? For the toddler, I am not able to engage with her about the DVD she’s watched 5 times in a row today, I can’t really offer to do much. I offered to go outside but in our second round of hide-and-go-seek the baby was crying again and she was soon finished. On the days when I do take the toddler out to visit a friend or go to a park or class, I feel like hell because the baby hates the car seat and screams in terror the whole way.

Meanwhile my house feels like hell because there are mountains of messes piling up and I cannot do one single thing to begin cleaning. Not one dish without tears and screaming. There’s food on the floor and I can’t do anything about it without waking the baby up or letting him cry alone for an extra five minutes (after the first ten minutes he’s cried alone so I can eat and go to the bathroom).

I think these are the days my parent friends are afraid of when they marvel at how I can homeschool. Indeed. I wonder why I don’t see these days on unschooling blogs and books. But for the sake of writing what’s real, and not just trying to promote an ideology or lifestyle, here I am with two people screaming sometimes so that my ears are ringing and piles of stuff mounting in every corner.

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About Kaitlin

I am primarily a stay at home mom. I also have a Phd in Eglish. Everyday I’m learning about myself, my family, and my community. I write about parenting, childhood, education, autism, homeschooling, politics, anti-racism, and feminism. Critiquing coercive and damaging cultural norms like misogyny, racism, sexism, capitalist exploitation, ableism, and childism helps me seek out a life of peace, justice, and empathy.
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