Today, before my husband left for work, he offered to care for our 15 month-old twins while I took a shower. Of course I jumped at the opportunity, even though I hadn’t finished my requisite cup of coffee yet. “Ahhhhh…today will be a better day than yesterday”, I hoped.
By the time I was dressed, however, I faced a vomit-mess of one crying, sick toddler and the whining of the other, which completely washed away my aspirations for the day. My tears welled and my heart sank.
Upon leaving for work, my husband said to me, “you’ll be OK, it was just 15 minutes of frustration.” I muttered a tight-lipped “mm-hmm”, and cried when the door shut.
You see, it’s not just 15 minutes of frustration that got to me, it’s the accumulation of 15 months of frustration aiming at two moving targets: figuring out sleep schedules, feeding schedules, what solids to eat, changing nap schedules, illnesses and teething.
During fleeting, blissful days, when everything falls into place, I feel like a Supermom to two Superbabies. But children grow and change, forcing constant refocus to figure out their latest needs and desires. Illnesses make the guessing game even more impossible and exacerbate an already frustrating situation.
Luckily, today things quieted down before noon, giving me a spare moment to finish my coffee and connect with the rest of the world.I checked my email, Facebook, and the latest news headlines…and that’s when my tears welled and my heart sank for the second time.
A car along a main street here in Juarez had been shot up killing several victims, including a 10 year-old boy. The article mentioned that the automatic weapons used were so powerful that the boy’s head was nearly decapitated. The horror hit me like a bad nightmare.
I live in a war zone and news of these killings occur everyday. The drug war between rival cartels in Juarez has taken over 8,000 lives since 2008.
Over the past year-and-a-half that I’ve lived in Juarez, it didn’t feel like these attacks affected as many innocent, young victims as they seem to lately. The rules have changed: anything goes, anywhere, anytime. I recently heard of a carjacking at mid-day, while a mother was taking her children out of their seats in the parking lot a the city’s main park, a park where many people bring their children to visit the resident giraffe.
As I sat writing this, my heart sank once more because I realized that the one-year anniversary of a friend and her husband’s murder also is upon us. They were chased down by gunmen in their car and mercilessly killed. Their eight-month old daughter was in the back seat, thankfully unscathed but now orphaned.
Our friends’ deaths are the reality of my worst nightmares and I replay it in my mind each time I want to go out. Should I take the kids or not? Should I go out at all? I weigh the risks of leaving our home everyday, sometimes questioning if I can make a dwindling supply of milk last until my husband has time to run to the store.
At lunch time, my husband came home to talk. He was very concerned about my earlier level of frustration. In typical fashion, he wanted to find a solution, believing there must be a way for me to have some kind of outlet. He asked, “What would you like to do if you weren’t taking care of the kids?” to which I replied, “That’s just it, I don’t know because I feel like I’m under house arrest, imprisoned on one level by two one-year-olds who’s erratic nap schedules and increased neediness make it difficult to organize ‘me time,’ and on another level, I am imprisoned by the security risk of going out at all.” As I spoke, I believe my husband’s own heart sank, too, hearing me put it in those terms.
Needless to say, I live a very isolated life. My double isolation is the most difficult situation I have ever faced, and the most insurmountable.
Having lived my life with confidence that there is always a solution to everything, I have now reached an impasse. Bewildered by my inability to fix the situation with concrete (and safe) solutions, I find myself relying on something that I never fully appreciated until now: hope.
Each day I hope that the difficult phases of my children’s development pass quickly. I hope that I will emotionally conquer the span of our time left in Juarez. I hope that I can focus on the light and joy that are my children, and that I am able to find solace in the love of my husband, family and friends.
I have never known hope so intimately until now.
Have you ever felt as if you’ve reached a personal impasse as a mother? What was happening and how did you over come it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our mother of twins writer, Dee Harlow in Mexico.
Photo credit attributed to Simon Brass. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.