When You Are Not a Viking, What Do You Do?

I’ve talked before about the fact that my constitution is generally that of a Victorian missus whose smelling salts are always near.

I get viruses often, I get strange exotic ailments that take 20+ doctors to diagnose. I am tired, a lot. Normal events, like a playdate or afternoon at the zoo or a morning at the Discovery Museum make me feel like I need a nap.

I see a doctor regularly. I take supplements. I take medications. I work out. I have been eating pretty healthy for a while now. I drink a lot of water. I’m being proactive.

And raising four year old twins, who get super exotic evil viruses every two weeks, who have the energy of 10 whirling dervishes EACH and who no longer take naps, is a challenge for me.

In the past, I’ve been the one thinking that I’m a failure for not living up to higher standards.

Then I had the epiphany that I need to stop comparing myself to others.

The problem is, the comparing doesn’t just come from within. Those I see most often, other than my blogger friends, judge me.

You see, they come from Viking stock. They have an immune system that really should be studied by the CDC. They never get ill, or if they do, it’s just a minor annoyance. They get up at 5 AM, build the world, come home, look down their nose at tired me, while they work. Some more. They are embarrassed and annoyed by me.

I know that despite my ailments I have accomplished a lot.

I overcame a strange mystery illness. It took a year and a lot of inner fortitude.

I went through 3 IUIs, an injectibles cycle, three IVF cycles and a chemical pregnancy.

I carried an incredibly difficult twins pregnancy to 35 weeks, 5 days. (Luck was obviously involved here.)

I took care of, by myself 20 hours a day, infant twins who suffered from reflux and needed to be fed around the clock every two hours until they were five months old.

I dealt with a daughter who had scary pre-asthmatic symptoms and a febrile seizure while dealing with my own pneumonia.

I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks.

I have raised two children who are remarkably confident, happy, verbal, curious and sweet. And it’s not just me who thinks this. I do this by myself, except on the weekends. When I have help. And I really, really, want to sleep in on Saturdays. It is thought if I do that, I am lazy. But I am honestly just so tired.

I know I’m no longer cheerful or fun. I’m crabby and frazzled and negative. This has been remarked upon at length. But I know it’s true.

Also, my blogging is not appreciated in some quarters.

I don’t want to sound like a victim. I’d rather think of myself as a survivor.

How can I be an energetic, friendly, happy survivor? I’d really like to know. Any suggestions?



Filed under Infertility, Parenting After IF

21 responses to “When You Are Not a Viking, What Do You Do?

  1. Who would dare think you are lazy for sleeping in on Saturdays? Who are these horrible people thinking and expressing these things? You are a survivor & you are strong. You couldn’t have gotten through everything unless you were. And who says you have to be cheerful all the time and not frazzled & crabby? I think those who say otherwise are on mega doses of Prozac.

  2. You’re totally a survivor (now I have that Beyonce song “I’m a Survivor” in my head…or was that Destiny’s Child? Either way, maybe that should be your theme song). You’re a rock-star survivor.

    Maybe you can do daily aspirations in your mirror a la Stuart Smalley? I’m not even joking. Because you are an incredible and strong woman, and if you are able to see that more often….watch out world!

  3. Your blogging is not appreciated in some quarters? Which ones are those? Not these quarters! I don’t comment as often as I should, but I always enjoy reading your blog. It seems to me that you live in an area with impossibly high standards, and as long as you keep comparing yourself to those people, you just can’t win. Stick with the rest of us – those who are in awe of any SAHM of twins!

  4. Wow- you are a survivor! I struggle daily with being energetic, happy and cheerful amidst a lot of stress in my life. The key for me is definitely enough sleep. And good friends to talk to. I would be a mess without friends.

  5. K

    “How can I be an energetic, friendly, happy survivor?”

    Erm, this may not be helpful but…don’t be? I like tired grumpy people! I love people who complain and get mysterious ailments and want to stay in their pajamas all weekend. I don’t mean to say don’t be a survivor–you are one and always will be. But maybe, rest on your laurels. Maybe other people naturally are more energetic, maybe they haven’t been through the emotional triathlons you have. Who knows. The way you deal with things is as valid as anyone else’s. I’m very similar and I like it. My husband is more like the people you describe. He likes to play soccer after a 10 hour work day because *he needs to burn off energy*. This is the pinnacle of insanity to me. But we make it work. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t let other people be too hard on you either 🙂

  6. Oh my. I am right there with you! My husband has those viking genes (well, not really, he is actually pure Mediterranean, but he’s a solid Mediterranean) and he often makes me feel like a LOOOOOOOOOOSER. But, as you said recently, we are actually pretty rad – especially when we get to sleep in on the weekend!

    ps. I always get this feeling like you are living in one of the more uppity corners of this area. I think you should consider a visit to this here town where people are of the easy-going sort.

  7. Wordgirl

    I am just exhausted even thinking about the idea of twins. I am in awe of you… Seriously! I have no energy. I literally fall asleep the minute I put Z to bed and all I’ve done that day (and I put that all in quotation marks) is tend to her with the exception of the two hours between G’s coming home and her bedtime. I was never a particularly cheerful person nor am I particularly social… Wow, this makes me sound like a lot of fun… however, I take a lot of solace in something my brother said to me once , though it was in a different context, he said “you know, Peege, (my family nickname) no one does it alone.” Those endlessly happy people with seemingly deeper reservoirs are really people with support networks that allow them to refill those reservoirs. Be easy on yourself and I will try to be easy on myself. No one does it alone. Xoxoxo. P

  8. You love your wonderful children and you’re doing a great job at raising them. Be cheerful when they’re 25 and out on their own – you have too much going on to be cheerful for other people.

    Just don’t forget to be proud of the fact that you are a kick ass survivor. Many others (including those always cheerful people out there) would have given up a long time ago.

  9. Jess

    I second all of the comments above.

    It seems to me to be poorly understood that people need different amounts of sleep to function. It is inbuilt, biological, and there is nothing we can do about it. Some people (like my husband) flourish on 5 hours sleep and can’t lie still for more than 6 hours. Others (like me) need 9 hours to feel properly rested and struggle to function on less than 8. This is a different in needs. Sleep is not a lifestyle choice.

    Some bodies are also healthier than others. We don’t get to choose what we get and we have to work with what we have got.

    In much of life you can adjust what needs to be done – work less hours, do less stuff. But with twins there is not a lot of room to reduce the load. There are two parents and as a team you have to work out how to earn enough money, do all the caring, and get enough sleep, each. Maybe it is possible to distribute things differently, or to buy in some help. Or if not maybe as a parenting team you will have to accept that you will both be frazzled and crabby for a while yet because neither is getting what they need.

    I agree with wordgirl ‘happy surviving’ only becomes possible if you are surrounded by love and understanding.

  10. Oh man, are you hanging with those uppity snobs in Tiburon?! You certainly cannot compare yourself to them. We can’t ALL be vikings. They have never walked in your shoes (however similar they may be) and cannot know what you need and how you can act. If those vikings around you are judging you then walk away… or tell them off…. but don’t take it. You can’t expect yourself to be anything but who you are and it sounds to me like you’re doing a DAMN good job at mothering two actives kids while fighting all kinds of challenges. Sleep and health are no joke, those “vikings” who judge you probably cry 10x a day, would kill for a nap, and wish for divorce regularly but simply put on a face when they see you. Looking down on others probably makes them feel better about their own situation. Making them happy would be simply impossible. Keep up the good work and survive on!

  11. I think that you a F*ing SUPERWOMAN.

    But even superwoman sleeps.

    Here’s what I propose:
    ~a post-it note pad on which you write reminders of your awesomeness, sticking the notes in strategic places all over the house that only you will see.
    ~union breaks. Hey, you’re not getting paid, but at least you can have benefits, right? Schedule them. You don’t even have to go smoke. 😉
    ~once a week sleep-ins. Someone else has to get the kids. I don’t care who. They’re 4? They can pour their own cereal. We used to put my son’s milk in the refrigerator, in a cup, in a place where he could reach it. Then we put breakfast or a snack in a place where he could reach that. He seemed to enjoy the independence, until he caught on that no one was up to play with him when he was done.
    ~breakfast in bed. Yes, put the twins in charge of taking care of YOU once a week. It might actually be a fun project for them. 😉

  12. “Also, my blogging is not appreciated in some quarters.”

    Whaaa? I fucking love your blog. Don’t you stop writing for a second, you hear me?!

    As for being a happy survivor, I don’t think it’s a matter of being “happy.” Allow me to get totally harsh for a second (but it’s out of love, I promise):

    From where is the pressure to be happy coming? The need to feel energetic and friendly? As I’m reading between the lines from your post, it looks like there are areas in your life where you feel a lack of happiness, energy, and friendliness. But the way you phrase it “How can I be an energetic, friendly, happy survivor?” makes it seem like you’re holding yourself up to an ideal version of yourself that may not exist – and that’s not a bad thing. That’s not to say you can’t EVER be happy, friendly energetic – maybe just not right now.

    I look at it like this: do you want to be happy? Or do you want to be fulfilled? It’s a subtle, but important difference, and will dictate completely how you start to approach things. And it’s not about settling for “good enough” – it’s about learning to accept the moments as they come and as they are.

    I’m also going to recommend this book: http://www.barbaraehrenreich.com/brightsided.htm Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America” if only to raise the point that it’s okay if you’re not the bright perky supermom. You’re still just as awesome, just as strong and beautiful as ever.

    You do what you need to do to make it work.

    Thinking of you.

    • GREAT RECOMMENDATION. I loved “Nickel and Dimed”, but I somehow missed this new book. I’m going to read it tonight. Thank you!

      • Wordgirl

        I’m thrilled for the suggestion as I reread comments while trapped under a vomiting toddler. I loved Nickled and Dimed too!

      • Yay! It’s timely too, since it’s talks about her fight with breast cancer and I can’t remember if she bashes the SGK Foundation in it.

  13. If you want my real advice it would be to work with a Chinese Medicine doctor, do acupuncture, take herbs, the whole nine yards. But somehow I doubt you’ll do that. 😉

    • I did that for a whole year, for the record, from June 2010 to May 2011 and finally realized it wasn’t working and just draining our savings. Acupuncture is amazing for some things for me, like back pain and I really think it helped me get pregnant with my third IVF cycle. But it doesn’t seem to help me with my energy levels or stomach problems.

  14. And as far as being happy and perky goes? Meh, who needs that? Unless you want to be happy, but you shouldn’t feel like you need to be happy so that others will think more of you. People who seem endlessly happy are just better actors, either that or they drown themselves in methamphetamines. At least I think they are. That is the only answer that makes any sense. 😉

  15. Ashwaghanda? I’ve been a mess since both of us started working full time and put X in daycare. This stuff seems to take the edge off.

    You’re totally a survivor! I wouldn’t be able to handle being the number 1 parent.

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