Family life

"NO!" is actually a pretty awesome word

"Sunday afternoon was the straw that broke the tired mama’s back, I think, after many jam-packed weekends in a row," Katie Dupuis writes.

Dupuis-siblings-blog

Katie Dupuis decides Sophie and Juliette need a break from their hectic schedules. Photo: Katie Dupuis

If you’d seen me in the grocery store this past Sunday afternoon, I was that mom. We’ve all been there—ratty, old sweatshirt; bra that didn’t fit (which I didn’t really notice until I got home and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror); cranky kids who would only be quiet in the cart if I fed them pieces of a (non-organic, full-of-sugar) cereal bar; and a poor husband enduring my sniping as he offered up suggestions for the week’s meal plan (sorry, honey). I received more than one sympathetic smile from other women in the store. Solidarity, sister, their eyes said.

If you’d asked me what my issue was, I’m not even sure I could tell you. It’s been a bad couple of weeks, especially with the sudden death of our friend and colleague Tracy Chappell. I had a very hard time sleeping in the days after losing Trace, and I think I’m still catching up. And nothing looks rosy when you haven’t had enough sleep. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if my attitude on Sunday afternoon had more to do with myself and less to do with the circumstances.

Before Sophie was born, Blaine and I were determined that, once the baby arrived, we wouldn’t change our lifestyle to the point of losing ourselves. We’d still take trips and host dinner parties and go to restaurants. Sure, there would be periods of adjustment, but we’d figure it out. The baby would just adapt with us. And it worked… to a point. We flew with Soph to British Columbia when she was just three months old; we took her to San Diego before she was a year and a half; she would happily sit in a high chair at a restaurant, as long as she had something to munch on; and we invited friends for supper after bedtime, and Soph would (usually) sleep through the whole thing. But this was all when she was napping twice a day, didn’t talk much yet and certainly didn’t realize how amazing free will is.

And then Juliette arrived on the scene, and we tried to continue in the same way. We took road trips and hosted parties (albeit parties that started at 2 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m., now that our friends had kids, too). We said yes to family and friends when they asked us to come for a visit. But something funny has happened over the past six months: It stopped being as easy.

I don’t know if this is a by-product of having two kids or just something that happens because of their ages, but trying to negotiate naps and meals on the go has become a serious chore. Neither of my girls sleeps well away from home—not even in the stroller or the car, much to my chagrin—and I have to stop pretending that “this time will be different.” It won’t be. We’ll be right back where we’ve been a number of times of late, trying to coerce the girls to sleep when they’re so overtired all they can do is cry. We did that to them. Really, I did that to them, because Blaine is much more reasonable about their limitations. I have to learn to say no, or to say yes tentatively and suggest a slightly different plan that will allow my kids to function better.

Sunday afternoon was the straw that broke the tired mama’s back, I think, after many jam-packed weekends in a row (most of which were my doing). The kids are exhausted, and Blaine and I need a break. I’m so looking forward to a couple of no-plans weekends in a row, where everyone sleeps on schedule, we cook and eat as a family (well, Juliette doesn’t cook, but she’s really good at keeping us company in the kitchen), and where the only agenda items are park trips, movie nights and maybe a little gardening. And while I do worry about coming across as anti-social or selfish, I can honestly say that the answer to any invitation until at least the middle of the month is no.

(Wow. That was liberating.)

Walmart Live Better editor-in-chief Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie, Juliette and husband Blaine. Read all of Katie’s Type A Baby posts and follow her on Twitter@katie_dupuis.