Some days, I think of only having two children, these two specific children, and my breath catches with just how wrong it seems.  And I think with absolute certainty that there must be three. I know that having three is the absolute number one most important right thing. 

But some days I become almost obsessed with how bad I am at this job.  I give myself a terrible performance review in my mind over and over again and I think that anyone who is this bad at something and who would choose to make it harder and to add more and to keep doing it must be absolutely certifiably insane. 

I take the quiz in the New York Times Magazine about enjoying parenting, the one that says that women like parenting more than men.  The only activity I give a full score of 5 to is “shopping for children.” Erik scores much higher than I do. 

Some days I realize that I can either spend all day cleaning my house or I can shower or I can make sure everyone eats three good healthy meals, but on no day will I be able to do all three of these things, and no matter what, I’m just going to have to wake up and do it all over again the next day.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking that there are some things I’d like to do. I’d like to go back to school and become a librarian. I’d like to raft down the Grand Canyon. I’d like to see the pyramids. I’d like to move somewhere for a year where all we do, every day, is surf.  I’d like to eat dinner in the Blue Bayou.  I’d like to run an under two hour half marathon. I’d like to run a Double Dipsea, even though people have told me “it’s very hard.” 

Remember when awhile back, I said that I felt like someone was not here yet? As though someone was missing?  In spite of how hard all this is and the lack of showers and the very bad job I often feel that I’m doing, in spite of all that, I do still feel as though someone is missing, like not everyone is here.  

But lately sometimes I wonder if maybe, just maybe, that missing person is ME. 


19 Responses

  1. Obviously I’m not a mom yet but I do understand that feeling that you’re “missing” or your life isn’t what you want it to be. The more I do the things I’ve always wanted to do (take a painting class, run, do a yoga challenge, make stuff, cook delicious meals, cross things off my Life List) the happier I feel, because I am no longer defined by being a teacher/girlfriend/daughter/whatever, I’m defined by my own self and what I’m doing.

    I know that you are smart and strong and capable and I know that you’ll do all the things you want to do. I’d love to help, if I can, or if you need it.

    Finally, this is beautiful. One of my favorite things you’ve written.

  2. Wow. The first thought that comes to my mind is that either scenario is a possibility…maybe you ARE meant to have another child, or maybe YOU just need to do more with you. Or maybe both things are the right thing. There’s no reason you have to have another child now, while your other two are still so young. I know a lot of people don’t feel that it’s ideal (ha, like what IS ideal) but it’s ok to have a little more space between Katie and your next baby, if there is a next baby. Maybe she needs to be in preschool or even real school before you can think about adding to your family.

    But it also sounds like you are missing part of yourself. I think that exploring some of those other things that are floating around in your head will answer the question for you.

  3. A beautiful post.
    I have felt the same way. Then I found the missing part- it was me. I no longer have the urge for a third child. That’s just my experience.
    I hope you find the missing part and find peace.

  4. This post made me whimper. I often look at my husband and his hobbies and interests and projects and wonder where he gets the time and energy. I don’t even have the head space to wonder what it is that I want to do. I often fantasize about disappearing into babyhood again for another child but I don’t think its the solution.

  5. I can’t even begin to comprehend what it is like to balance your wants and needs with those of your family (honestly, it gives me the anxiety breathing a little bit that I will probably find out in the near future) but I can tell you this: being in touch with those things that you want is half of the battle. And you have a damn good list going! Many people can’t even figure out where they want to go — seems like you have some great inspiration, now you just have to figure out how to juggle resources to get there. Want a buddy for the Double Dipsea? Holler!!! We’ll make it happen! 🙂

  6. When I fly down there in 2 weeks let’s lock the children in the backyard with a Costco-sized carton of goldfish crackers and road trip to the Blue Bayou. I AM IN.

  7. I think maybe auntie is right … it could be another child missing, or yourself, or both … they are not mutually exclusive.

    One thing I can say for myself is when the first child started full day school, something inside me eased up. To not be responsible for one of the children for 6 hours a day helped so much. That sounds sort of terrible, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Now 2 of the 3 are in full day school and the house doesn’t get as dirty, not as many people are asking me for things 12 to 15 hours a day, and I have more space in which to squeeze my OWN wants, needs, hobbies.

    Just to say … see what happens when kindergarten starts. Maybe you’ll decide you need the extra time for yourself … maybe it will be time for anothe baby. Or maybe both, when Miss K is older.

    But don’t feel bad that you think you are bad at parenting young kids … it is relentless work. I can’t imagine most people feel that great at it if they really do it day in, day out.

  8. What Amy said. (Well, except for the part about doing what makes you happy, because I am still working on that.)

  9. “Are we done?” is a really hard question for me to answer. I always thought there should be three but my husband always saw two. I feel the same way about parenting- I am so bad at it so why would I subject ANOTHER kid to my terrible skills? There seemed to be so many accomodations that would need to be made for a third child- our house isn’t set up well for it, we would have to re-think our cars, we are finally getting to a happy place with our 2 and 4 year olds and going back to babies and nursing and pumping and diapers and… well, I know I would love that child and we would figure out all the details but I still wonder. We have made the formal decision to be done and I wonder if that decision will haunt me for the rest of my days… Making another person is not a decision you make lightly!

  10. That is the DUMBEST quiz I have ever seen. It is basically a chore quiz!!! Who ACTUALLY LIKES changing diapers!?!? Who likes making lunch and then watching the child not eat it? NOBODY ENJOYS THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE, COME ON.

    I only rated one thing a 5, “Talking to Child,” and I don’t even rate that a 5 at all times because about 85% of the time she is interrupting me.

    I say that quiz is horse shit and you would make an awesome librarian. Rapids scare the crap out of me, so I’m not really behind you on that one. But, I don’t think there’s any reason (ANY!) that you can’t start to dip a pinkie toe into the pool of Things Just For Elizabeth now. It does not have to be a big thing, but there should be A Thing and it will be hard to find the time for but you deserve it. A lot.

  11. Whoa! Deep stuff and very cool. Don’t clean the house as much. It helps. My sister is a librarian if you ever want a librarian spirit guide.

  12. test

  13. That quiz is absolutely RIDICULOUS. Oh my lord, what in the WORLD? Were people answering what they really thought or just what they thought they HAD to say? I cannot imagine anyone rates changing diapers above MAYBE a 2, and that’s only if they are SUPER CRAZY. Some of the questions don’t even apply to everyone!

    Okay, enough about that. You DO have to find something for you, whatever that may be. This is such a HARD time. I’m at home, 9 months into the third baby, and I still find myself wondering if it was the right choice. I mean, of course it was the right choice, I have this amazing little boy to love and whose sisters adore him and he has absolutely, perfectly completed our family in a way I never knew I wanted. AND YET. It is very hard, I have had to sacrifice so very much for this sweet little boy. I catch glimpses of what life would be like right now if we’d stopped with 2, if we just had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old and how much FREER we would be. And so I put myself on the back burner until maybe there is time to find something for me. This post was an excellent reminder of how so many of us DO completely lose ourselves in the early years of mothering. I only hope that once one thing or another happens, it won’t feel so impossible to figure out what ME there is left.

    I hope you find you soon.

  14. Only about 50% of parenthood do I do really well. The other 50% like caring what my children eat more of the time or trying to be less shouty or getting down on the floor to play–I am not good at those things.

    But then I think about my life and, well, I’m not very good at 100% of those things either. I bite my fingernails and am bad at some aspects of my job (am a librarian!) and I am not a very patient person, so I guess this is all about par for the course.

    And I am humanly unable to shower AND cook a meal all in one day. It’s hygiene or sustenance, folks. Just the way it is.

  15. I’m not sure what to say here – I want more too but worry about the chaos & time & money. And mine are old enough now for playdates & playing alone, which IS nice. I’ve no doubt you’ll find your answer.

  16. […] Lastly, this post from Princess Nebraska. I .. I could’ve written this myself. Man, I HAVE written this in my head a million times over. But I never put together the last part of it until she put it down in text. And suddenly .. yeah. That’s me. I need to find me. […]

  17. This is beautifully written and so spot on. I just can’t wait to hug you in November (we can totally hug this year, right?).

  18. Hot damn you are a good writer. Don’t let your talent go to waste–go back to school asap! Be a librarian or an English teacher (you would b very good). You can juggle being a mom and a student for shilla. No one said to be a good mom you have to be home every second of everyday. In fact if you weren’t there all the time, it would make being a better mom a lot easier. Absence makes a heart fonder right. Hope you find peace in your decision.

  19. I cannot tell you how much this speaks to me. I feel this way a lot..like I’m just passing through my life. When I’m at work, I feel like I should be home. When I’m home, sometimes I want to go back to work. And don’t even get me started on the feeling that my nanny is so much better at everything (including raising my kid) than I am. And even though I’ve never met you, I get all of my reading lists from the books you review and I think you’d make an amazing librarian.

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