updates from the bradfields

16 Jan 09 Learning the virtues of a deep breath

I’ve always prided myself for not being a “stereotypical” woman. You know, the one whose husband refers to, with a roll of his eyes, as “the wife”. This woman is irrational and moody and seems to be in a perpetual hormone-induced bad mood. Over the past few weeks, however, I’ve learned how this stereotype can rear its ugly head before you can say “PMS”.

Let me first paint a picture of my current state of mind. Since Dec. 2, I have not had more than 3 hours’ consecutive sleep. I’m full of postpartum hormones. I spend my days with a 4-year-old who loves to find new power struggles to torture me with every day, a 2-year-old who eats only 7 things and has chosen this week to decide to start walking (yay Nicole!) and a 6-week-old who doesn’t like to be alone. EVER. In the past week, I’ve shut an unbelievably heavy door on my finger, fallen on the subway grate and stubbed my toe more times than I can count. Last night, I spilled a whole glass of water on the bed and all I could think was that if I changed the sheets, it would take away from time I could be sleeping, so I threw down a towel and went back to sleep.

In this current state of mind, I have, on several occasions, been “visited” by this stereotypical woman. Certain times, I can contain her. Other times, she’s much stronger than I and I become a lunatic. What I’ve learned is that a simple breath – a very deep one – can usually keep her at bay.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Dave was away for two consecutive days this week, which left me alone taking care of the girls without the 1 hour nap I usually take when he gets home. I was so tired I could barely see straight. His first night back, after a late meeting, Dave called to say his coworkers were going for a drink and would I mind if he went with them. God bless him for asking and God bless me for taking a breath before responding. The breath allowed me to muster, after a prolonged silence, “I’m really tired” instead of what the stereotypical woman was telling me to say.

The breath also comes in very handy with Marley, who doesn’t like not getting her way. She, too, is a woman, after all. Taking a deep breath before responding to her 100th request for chocolate, for example, gives me the strength to find the answer that will keep excessive whining, crying and tantruming (from both of us) at bay.

Life is too short to be grumpy, and we all need to breathe anyway, so we may as well do it wisely.

Reader's Comments

  1. |

    Karen, I HEAR YOU!!

    There have been times when I have been so sleep-deprived and cranky I could barely keep myself from throwing my head back and roaring. Instead, I found myself snapping almost constantly and driving everyone to distraction. And ultimately, coping, though not happily.

    During our only vacation of the year, on visit to Greg’s parents in Florida, Liane was badly displaced, overstimulated, overtired AND teething. She’s usually a heavy sleeper, but for two weeks, she wouldn’t nap more than 45 minutes at a time and woke up 3 to 5 times a night. I spent the entire vacation in a grumpy, miserable fog. There was no fun in sight, despite the beach being nearby and a good supply of willing babysitters.

    Things are better now, since Liane is older, sleeping through her nights, and we’ve finally gotten around to going to bed earlier to catch up on our sleep (sometimes). And Liane is a amazing kid, winsome and easy-going — except when she’s teething, which she currently is. She turned into Miss Hyde two days ago and Dr. Jekyll has trouble peeking through.

    There’s a reason why there’s a stereotype. Sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture, is it not? If you find yourself omitting your deep breath from time to time, please know that there are those who understand.

    Hang in there -


  2. |

    Wow Karyn. I must congratulate you on your insight. I know exatly what you’re going through. What I can’t believe is that every time I talked to you and asked you how you were, you never once complained about whaat you are going through. That’s what Mom’s are for you know. Since I can’t be there in person (and when I was there in person I saw firsthand what your day was like) my shoulder is always there for you. Not to cry on but to help you through your day. God Bless you Karyn. You are a wonderful Mother. Love Mom

  3. |

    In spite of all of your burdens and challenges, you remain a wonderful and talented writer Karyn. You just made me laugh and cry. I only have Andree as my reference but I do remember bowing down to the mothers in my neighbourhood who had more than one child. I honestly don’t know how you handle all of this work as well as all of their different personalities (not to mention the wicked sleep deprivation). I cannot imagine juggling the needs of 3 little ones each at a different developmental stage. It’s exhausting for me just to think about it. It is so easy to lose oneself. The role of Mother is not only the most difficult but also the most unselfish one that I know of. GO KARYN! Love and hugs and supportive kisses, Teri

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