In the Winter Weeds

It’s a gray winter day here in Santiago, and I’m stealing a few minutes while both kids are napping to write.  Lately, it feels like I do everything and nothing on any given day. I am in the weeds, as they say, in every area of my life.  There is always more stuff to clean, another meal to be prepared, someone who needs a snuggle or a lesson on kindness, clothes to be washed, naps to be coaxed, yoga to be done, emails to be answered, prayers to be said, etc.  All of this and the Coloradoesque weather of Santiago (we had snow last Saturday and then a week of gorgeous sunshine-warmed days) can have me bouncing from nearly depressed to elated within the span of a few hours. I hate to admit it, but my mood often hangs on how many ounces Adela eats and how willing Rayna is to use the potty.  Most days, I spend a decent amount of time just looking at and laughing with my precious family.  But I also have to put “take a shower” on my to-do list. The indignities and wonder of stay-at-home mom life continue to impress me.

I used to think I knew stuff…I knew how long it took to eat a yogurt and get dressed.  I knew how to fit a workout, a shower, and basic self-prep in before leaving for my day.  I knew how to avoid mountains of laundry and dressers exploding from being carelessly stuffed.  It turns out, I knew nothing.  Now, with two children, the breakfast time table can run from 5 to 50 minutes, and getting Rayna dressed requires the temptation of a TV show (something I “knew” I would NEVER do as a parent).  My self-care/level of frump ranges wildly from day to day.  Let’s just say the majority of my favorite clothes are either maternity or could be mistaken for pajamas.  Last Friday, when I went to pick up Rayna from school, I had clean hair, a little bit of makeup and a regular adulting outfit on.  The jardin director, who I have seen nearly every day for the past three months, did not recognize me.  I am not exaggerating.  As I stood outside the gate waiting to be buzzed in, I had to introduce myself (for the first time since I’ve been taking my kid to the school), and the director gasped and said “Oh Jessie, I didn’t recognize you!”.  Fair enough.

And let’s just talk about laundry.  Between a still-potty-training peach and a darling little ball of spit up, my kids create a lot of laundry.  I am running a load most days, and that part goes fine.  It is the putting it away that gets me.  I find myself looking for my phone under 17 small articles of clothing piled on our bed and there are typically stray socks on the floor in the hallway.  I am so so so thankful for a dryer (a luxury in a country that likes to pretend like winter is just one weekend a year, and thus they don’t need indoor heating nor dryers).  And I’m grateful for the gifted clothes and hand-me-downs that keep my kids from going out naked.  But seriously, the laundry could be my full-time job.

I am also more tired than I have ever been in my life.  In an effort to fatten up our teeny preemie, I have had to sacrifice any dreams of consistent sleep and instead focus on getting her all the calories possible.  Most days, a cup of coffee can lift the fog and Jeff encourages me to nap rather than meal prep, generously making dinner when he gets home or insisting we order take-out (side note: my husband is a saint).  How do I spend my days?  Sometimes, I have no idea.  What I do know is that I have had almost no time for my writing, have been a far less reliable friend than I like, and am often vacillating between a place of stuck and rushed.  Stuck nursing, rushing to get Rayna from school.  Stuck in an uber, rushing to get citizenship paperwork sent.  Stuck waiting for Adela to be asleep, rushing to take a shower before she cries.

A dear friend consoled me yesterday, as I lamented how I’m failing at life, and assured me that no one with 2 small kids feels like they’re doing awesome.  Managing life in Spanish adds to the challenge and being far from family continues to be hard.  We had to cancel our July USA trip because Della wasn’t medically cleared to fly and getting out of the house is still only happening when it is a necessity.  But despite all these things, I’m encouraged by the way we’re managing the trials we’ve faced this winter.  Rayna is thriving at school, dancing and singing her way through the days and fully bilingual at this point.  Adela is growing, slowly but surely, and it is so sweet to see her begin to engage with her world.  Jeff and I support each other in every way, which makes our home feel healthy even amidst the chaos, and we’re all pretty happy just to be together.  Our little corner of Santiago feels like a well-known friend at this point, so despite the weeds, there is plenty of sunshine.  Love!

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