I’m not the woman I used to be

As I sit here, hair in tangles and mascara down to my cleavage, I have to admit something rather horrifying. I’m not as good at this as I used to be.

Last year when Jason left for five months, I was mostly strong and sporadically happy, but totally competent. Right now? Not competent. Not strong. Rather wet in the face and ridiculously emotional. And what, pray tell, do I have to be so emotional about?

My bar. The one in the kitchen. That nasty, festering nemesis that no matter how many times a day I clean, it spontaneously produces orange slices and broken crayons. floating amid puddles of water/yogurt/apple juice.

Unfortunately the iron supplements aren’t working as fast as I’d like them to (even with the additional oysters, liverwurst, and strawberries I’m eating) and just getting everyone breakfasted and dressed has me seeing spots and needing to put my head between my legs.

So, in an attempt to force energy this morning, I fired up the Oreck and made it through one room before nearly passing out. I collapsed on the couch in the family room, unable to move, and immediately wanted to shoot myself. Stuck on the couch, I had a bird’s eye view of all things disgusting in my house: the undercarriage of the bar, the television stand, and the bottom of the bookshelves.

To make matters worse, June thought I needed a little wake up call and spent the next five minutes beating me to a bloody pulp while all I could do was sit with a pillow over my face and cry like an idiot.

This whole motherhood thing has been very enlightening today. Apparently I have limits. Who knew?

PS – I just realized I have a deadline today for my TOUV column. I need 700 words of something opinionated? Anyone? I’ll pay for a good idea right about now.


  1. Write about Mom’s who think their kids are the cutest things ever and want you to agree with them. I have no problem telling them that their kids are cute, but I hate it when they want me to overly praise their children to the extent that I feel to agree with them would be putting my own down. For example “Don’t you just think little junior is the cutest smartest thing you’ve ever seen?” No, I think my kids are. But that’s just my opinion.

    I also have an opinion about people who leave their grocery carts in the good parking spots at the front.

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, so let me say I’m really not this opinionated usually. Just trying to share some ideas.

  2. That sounds delightful! Hope you don’t pass out this afternoon!

  3. HUGS! I hear ya on the no hubby thingy- the days one running into the next- the loneliness, the boredom, the repetition. . . oh. I’m quoting Mr. Mom. My bad. Pregnancy is HARD. IT makes everything feel like crap (for me anyway).

    Hey, how about talking about how insane people get in discussion forums after news articles? People are caaarazy.

  4. You could write about whether or not eating liverwurst is worth the added iron to your diet. I’d go with heck no.

  5. I am TRULY sorry! I can’t even imagine what you are going through, and I am completely at my wits end with my three WITH my husband around! But you are amazing, and strong, and you can DO THIS! It will be hard, but you will make it! I wish I could do more than just read your posts and comment here. I say you write up your 700 words on people who would rather take their sick kids in public than miss some major event. For example, we got a new bishop recently, and so many people brought their sick kids to church so they could hear who the new bishop is… about 2/3 of our ward came down with RSV because of it. Pleasant, lemme tell ya! Or to avoid church situations, same thing happened when a local Olympian came home. Our town threw her a parade that ended at the local elementary school, and I swear the school gym sounded like an ER room with all the coughing and sniffling. And now my baby has Croup and RSV… I hate winter.

  6. Tina Kendall says:

    Annie, you are an amazing, capable, fabulous woman! Don’t ever beat yourself up for the little things. Instead curl up on that couch and read that sweet girl a story! LOVE YOU

  7. You’re pregnant. Doesn’t that mean you’re allowed to be ridiculously emotional?!?

  8. When I feel awful I put the dvd on for the kids and give them lots of treats to keep them quiet while I sleep.

    Sorry I can’t come and help out. Do your v.t’s read your blog? If so, where are they????

    • annie valentine says:

      Kay, maybe we’ll get transfered to the United Kingdom with our next move. Then you can come help me all the time!

      • No problem! I miss having little ones around. Stroppy teenagers are not so appealing.

  9. Hilarious! Love your shelf! Feed the Poo Chi.

  10. So…. totally nosey, but what kind of iron supplement are you taking? And are you taking enough?? I had surgery 15 years ago that left me anemic and I’ve taken various forms of iron over the years. They were all pretty harsh on the tummy until my latest (and greatest) doc told me his wife has the same problem and she takes 325 mg of ferrous gluconate. (At first I was alarmed at the high dose, but it turns out to be 15 mg of regular iron!) It doesn’t really have a brand name, at least not that I know of, I just get it from my HMO’s pharmacy. It’s like $3.79/box of 100. And anyway, my whole point is that iron in that form (ferrous gluconate) is really really easy on the tummy and much less likely to cause constipation, another gift of pregnancy! It actually doesn’t cause any tummy troubles for me, but everyone’s different, ya know? ANYWAY! If you want to email me your address I can send you some to see how you like it.

    Sorry for sounding like an infomercial, I just have to reach out to my sisters and offer help when I can!

  11. Michelle Jensen says:

    I have totally loved reading your blog for months now and thought it was about time I replied to something! I’m a first grade teacher (27 years)–I know it’s ancient history, but I totally support you on the homework thing. I’m a mom with three daughters and boy, do I remember spending nine months being sick! Even though I don’t know you, I think you’re an amazing person. All I can tell you is that one day your little June is running around making mess after mess (I had one, too) and refusing to wear anything but twirly dresses ( oh, wait, that was mine) and the next day she’ll be walking down the aisle getting married. I had one get married last summer, and now one this summer–it really does go by fast, but NOT when you’re in the middle of it. That’s not a lot of comfort, but hang in there! Even people who don’t know you are inspired by you!

  12. My first instinct is to shower you with pity and sympathy. But, really, I think flattery is a better boost. YOU are brilliant, both as a mother and a writer. And I know, head moaning between two cushions and all, that you will think up something opinionated and entertaining for your deadline. Maybe a good topic is the injustice that as a young mother, just when you need a housekeeper the most, you can’t afford it. Add it to your list of the top ten reasons to hate Dave Ramsey. I wish I were your neighbor. I’d be over lickety-split to wipe off the crusty counter. Poor thing.

    • annie valentine says:

      Why are all my dearest friends so unavailable to me?? Thank you for the totally uplifting words, where would I be without friends like you?

  13. Annie the ladies in the neighborhood are going to Valentines Day next Saturday, not this upcoming one, and you are totally invited.
    If I were to write an article it would be about how people who allow their pets to roam about the neighborhood should have their pet taken away. Because the roaming dogs in my neighborhood are driving me nutso…..

  14. Umm……this too shall pass? I’m so sorry it’s such a crummy day. Maybe you do need to boost your iron dosage, or just call a friend. You know, it’s always easier to clean someone else’s house rather than your own. Any close friends that you’d be okay calling to help with housework a bit?

    I’m not sure I’m giving the right answers here. Hope you feel better, though. xoxo

  15. You could write about how people like to tell you HOW to have your baby. And the horror stories that women tell each other. You could form an opinion about whether or not it is a good idea for women to judge other women when it comes to using drugs or not.

    But I’m just thinking that because you’re pregnant.

    Or you could write about why SUVs are better than Minivans or vice versa.

    Or you could write about why first graders shouldn’t have homework… wait you did that already.

    You could be opinionated about whether or not Senior year should indeed be eliminated from Utah schools.

    You could write about which is better: cake and ice cream or Cake flavored ice cream.

    High fructose corn syrup?
    The cost of health care?
    Single parenting and why it’s the pits?
    Better mascara?

    Have I helped you even a little? 😉

    • annie valentine says:

      Morgan you’re a genius. I think I just felt the first few drops of juice flow back into my brain.

  16. Annie, as a new visitor to your blog, any words of sympathy will probably sound hollow. But I am sorry it’s so hard right now. You have helped me do some thinking about how I can support my wife more fully, though.

    Also, I find when pots and pans are really dirty, pouring about 2/3 bottle of dishsoap in and then letting it soak for two weeks works magic. When I clean the bathroom that our sons use, I pour about 3/4 parts bleach with 1/4 water into a spray bottle. I spray the toilet, turn the fan on and lock the door. A few hours later, or as soon as the fumes have disipated enough that I can stand, it’s very easy to wipe everything off with a Kleenex.

    You might combine these by trying the bleach solution on your counter and letting it sit for a few weeks.

    Good luck!

  17. You know what I want to hear you dissect? Mean girls. I never was one, I’m a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of girl, and my 3 year old is my clone. But already, there are mean girls out there, as young as 2. Ones that say hurtful, mean things to my wee one – threatening not to be her friend unless she does what they say. Who are these kids, and do they learn it from birth, from their mom??

    And you lay on the floor for a few more months. You TOTALLY are entitled. I have a husband around and I’m not pregnant, and I still feel entitled to lay on the floor all the time. Like right now.

  18. Well, my first opinion is to just let the house go. Jason’s not going to see it anyway. (Does that sound too 50’s housewife?) And coming from me, you know this is not just some fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants advice. If I advise you to forget the house, this is SERIOUS business. Your temporary sanity and the kids’ lives are more important 🙂 Although, if some doll offers to come clean, by all means let her! It feels so much better to be sick in a clean house. I wish I could come clean, we’d throw on some Million Dollar Sellers, sing our lungs out, and I’d clean like a mad woman while you laid on the couch.

    Next, a controversial object for your column? Morgan and Pam had some great ides. Something from my list? Teaching kids how and why they should do chores around the house. Good luck.

  19. I’m too lazy to drive an hour and a half (too honest?)
    I have to do kid pickup in 45 minutes (too lame?)
    I get to make dinner for 3 families tonight (too unrelated?)

    For these reasons I’m not helping you. But for all manner of unrelated reasons, I still love you. And nobody else will ever know what you know about the underside of your kitchen island. Which is good. Really good.

    Write about your fingernails.

  20. Deployments and TDYs and what I have to re-learn every time:

    When the hubby leaves, I always think I have to be strong. I have to be on top of things. I have to for my husband who is off fighting a war in the sandbox. And it is the deployment times when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong – including having to buy a new car BY MYSELF, and oh, the fridge died on us too – had to buy a new of those. Yard work – ugh how I hated the yard work. Had a 3 year son with mono. It’s always a lot to handle.

    But it was those expectations I forced myself to adhere to that actually drove me CRAZY. For some reason I thought if I cracked, if I let the tears flow and let the house go and if I asked for help – I was a slacker and I felt guilty for not being able to do what other people do everyday. But by the end, I realized it’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to have bad week. Being exhausted is part of the game, and I could not help anyone else until I helped myself. So every now and then I would secure a babysitter. I would then have the whole messy house to myself. I would have a good cry, help myself to some Ben and Jerry’s (cherry garcia), and help myself to the couch to wallow in my low spirits. It was like I was helping myself to a therapy session. After the tears dried up, and the Cherry Garcia was half empty, I helped myself take a nap and then helped give myself a swift kick in the pants and got up and got back to life.

    My point is, we can’t do it all. We shouldn’t expect ourselves to do and be everything all the time. We have all breaking points. If we break – so what. It’s just us finally realizing what we already know. The crying and resting – is an emotional release…it’s our “pressure valve”. We have downs so we can appreciate the ups.

    And as far as the iron goes…I had the same problem this last pregnancy. I took the brand called Slow-FE. But it only helped a little. The whole pregnancy was miserable. My body was just exhausted. After taking the supplements, my iron bounced back, but my energy didn’t. I had to learn to take it easy and ask for help. It was my 4th kid, and I think body tried to remind me of it every chance it got.

  21. Oh Annie, I so know. I so know. I’ve gone more than a whole month now without my husband, and I can’t believe its even been that long. Its hard and it sucks, you’re doing fantastic. Don’t let your own expectations get you down (although I know how that goes too), you’re doing fine, and cry if you want to! Wish I could be there to spend the time with you, make it go by faster for both of us!

    Hmmmm, topics for opinion article:

    -Whats your opinion on other people “parenting” your child when you’re standing right there?

    -why Mac’s are clearly a better computer. 🙂

    -Your opinion on good neighbor etiquette? (As in, mine smoke right outside my door so it stinks up my entire house, how would you deal with that?)

    -Grandparents spoiling grandchildren?

    -Why maternity clothes are so ugly?

    Okay, I got nothing. Sorry. 🙂

  22. You might hate me for suggesting this, but leafy greens. DARK leafy greens. It might help. It helped me. But I’m not you nor are you me, so who knows? I shove some spinach (rinsed by my hands – or the salad spinner) about a cup in the blender with some dark frozen berries, OJ, bananas and whatever. The berries cover up the green color and the bananas and other fruits block the taste.

    I’m sorry you’re so tired and your house is a wreck. I hate that feeling. My leg has me housebound, but I’ll pray someone wonderful shows up at your door. Well, two someone wonderfuls – one to take your kids to McDonald’s or wherever is a local indoor play place and one to come into your house to do some quick tidying and cleaning while you lay down and find some peace.

    Article options? Religion, politics and child-rearing. Firestorms all of them. You could write a list on one of my favorite sayings, “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.” Mostly I use this with my preschooler and toddler but I’ve also used it when I was a secretary to undergraduates at a University. Lands. The things people try.

    One more: blinkers don’t help your car turn. They tell the people around you what you intend to do. It does little good if you turn it on as you’re half-way into your turn.

    Good luck, friend. Here come those prayers on your behalf.

  23. Tammara says:

    I am 100% positive you will find something inspiring or eye opening to everyone for your column. I love reading your stuff and I am sorry you are so sick. Maybe you could ask the teenage girls you adopted down the street to help you out one day a week. The iron stuff is hard I am anemic and have to get an Iron infusion once a year or so. It works for me wish I could help but I am far away. I am sending hugs your way.:)

  24. Sweetie,

    I will be home in less than a week. I am so sorry you are feeling this way and I wish I could do something to help……..By the way, have I told you how hot and beautiful you are?

  25. Subject suggestion is probably too late, but;

    Hint to Husbands – Listen and agree, don’t try to fix it.

  26. Number one rule of couch crashing – NEVER KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN. Then you won’t see all the places you’ve neglected to clean in an upright position.

  27. I hope you’re feeling better Annie, and that you found something to write about. Being on deadline when you’re sick and fried and husbandless is just – cruel and unusual punishment. I’m so sorry. Hang in there, my friend.

    We really missed you today.

  28. Oh, Annie. *hugs* I can sympathize–not in all the same ways but my heart is with you. Is there anything I can do for you?

  29. Hang in there Annie! Remember that last year you were not anemic or pregnant!
    Maybe you could write about whether or not Kate should go on Dancing With the Stars or stay home and raise those 8 kids…. I don’t know- that’s what they were talking about on TV yesterday when I was at the gym.
    Love you!

  30. I know I’m a day late, so it would be futile to give you column ideas, but I just want to say I’m sorry you had a day like that one. They are NORMAL, but they still suck. As someone who has spent many of the last 4 years husbandless (mostly due to schooling, sometimes due to travel), I feel your frustration. You don’t resent them, you resent yourself for not being able to “pull it off,” plus you start to have a whole new respect for the single moms who unexpectedly found themselves in this kind of mess and have no other choice than to just pull it off with no anticipation of hubby coming home eventually. But of course, that doesn’t make you feel better, and it stretches you to hard, hard places for a few days. BUT, things kind of work themselves out and you can finally look out from under your pillow again and face the world. You can do it!!! You have a whole team of empathetic (emphasis on “pathetic”) cheerleaders.

  31. Veronica says:

    So many people love you Annie! And what a sweet comment from Jason.
    I live WAY to close for you not to call me and let me help. PLEASE! I’ll email you. I can be there in 10 minutes, give or take a stop-light. I mean it!

  32. zstitches says:

    Hey Annie, I’m late seeing this, but as someone who’s also seeing spots from low iron (and who also has pretty miserable pregnancies, and who falls to pieces when my husband goes out of town–I really related to this post) I’d ask your doctor if he can send you for I.V. iron. My doctor sends me to the Huntsman cancer clinic across the street from UVRMC, and they give me a shot full of liquid iron. It’s a very tiny needle and the injection takes about 5 minutes and only hurts momentarily when the needle first goes in. (Another option is to sit in a chair in a hospital for a few hours for an IV iron drip, but I like this better–I have to go more than one time but for a shorter amount of time, and it spreads the doses out rather than trying to do it all at once.) I’m having 4 doses over four weeks and although I don’t love shots, I do love that the iron doesn’t have to pass through my digestive system and it’s absorbed almost immediately. It’s just a MUCH more efficient way to get iron into you than by trying to get it through diet and supplements. I don’t know whether your doctor would prescribe this, but I think it’s worth asking.