September 1, 2005
I know, I disappeared. I kinda lost my footing and my equilibrium is shaky. One day, I thought I had a handle on my life and the next I was sobbing in my closet. No joke. The emotional freight train of suddenly parenting my 4 grandchildren and my 2 kids along with my internal battle to change the way I viewed my life caught up with me. Suddenly, the cute stories dried up as I tried desperately to grasp the fragments of me I could find during a day and figure out how the heck I am going to survive the upcoming years. At a time in my life when I was enjoying time to myself during the day while my children were in school, contemplating life with my husband without the constant company of children, it has been extremely traumatic to put on the brakes of my dreams of freedom and writing.
Last year, I woke up most days thinking, ďI love my lifeĒ with an almost guilty pleasure since so many others do not enjoy that luxury. Now, I wake most mornings trying to remember what day it is, dreading the effort I must put forth to survive the day and even groaning to myself occasionally, ďI hate my life.Ē I used to handle the normal daily setbacks with humor and now they tend to overwhelm me. Instead of laughing my response has turned into a moan of despair as the burden of adding any little extra task to my plate grows heavier and I tend to think, ďJust shoot me.Ē
The resentment has been hard to deal with. It doesnít mean I donít love my grandchildren, nor does it mean I would change my choices, but I would be lying if I didnít admit to myself that changing gears on my future has been pretty darn hard on me, my husband, and my children. Little by little we are muddling through. About the time I found myself huddled in my closet crying, the schedule worked out so that I actually have almost an hour to myself before heading to the bus barn for my afternoon route. So far, Iíve had to use the time taking care of business, but I am ever hopeful that Iíll be able to claim it for my own and dedicate that time to writing. Itís hard to adhere to my rigid schedule and then let loose my imagination on a specific timeframe. Hereís how a typical school day goes:
Up at 5 to shower and dress.
4 little ones up at 5:30 to dress, wash, eat and to the bus barn by 6:05
2 leave for school from home
1 takes a bus from the bus barn to school
Finish route and pick up 3 children around 9
2 hours to play with kids, run errands, do housework and take care of business.
2 down for naps by 11:30
Take 1 to pre-K at 12:20
Almost one full hour to myself.
Carry 2 sleepy children to van and return to bus barn.
Drive bus route
Pick up 4 (the buses bring the 2 in school to the bus barn for me)
Head home to empty backpacks, do homework, talk about the day with 6.
Try to watch GH while fixing dinner and monitoring tired, hungry, grumpy children
Clean up kitchen and make kids pick up house.
Bathes, teeth brushing, read story, bed.
Think about what I should do, what I could write, but mostly fall into bed.
Thatís my schedule and I am sticking to it. If someone gets sick, Iím screwed.
Monday through Friday, every second accounted for. Itís killing me. I never used to wear a watch and now I live by one. But, even though I dislike living within the boundaries of such a rigid schedule, it is allowing me precious minutes of quiet during the day which I havenít enjoyed since before the children arrived. The rigid schedule is also becoming a security blanket for the children. They complain about waking in the dark and they are tired at the end of the day but they seem to revel in knowing what is going to happen next. Itís a security blanket they cling to. Now we are working on the loveliness of sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday and how considerate it is to not wake anyone else up when they are sleeping. In other words, let Mimi rest! Sometimes they do, most times they donít. At 2, 3, 4 and 6, that others have wants and needs that donít include them isnít a fathomable concept to my 4 little concrete thinkers. They hunger, want to play, need a diaper changed, therefore the adults must respond as soon as possible.
September 6, 2005
Our excitement one evening was a dog bite. Our neighbors own an 8 year old, slightly temperamental, not very smart cocker spaniel. Somehow she got loose from their backyard and was in the front yard by the kids. Cyera sat too close to her and the dog defended her toy by nipping at Cyera. Unfortunately, her nip punctured her cheek, right under her eye and left a tooth scrape/bruise (but didnít break the skin) down her cheek. She came in sobbing and scared, I put her in the bathtub, cleaned it up in the course of washing her off and brought her down watch a movie and cover it with ice. By the time Iíd found the telephone to call my neighbors and let them know what happened, they were at the door, horrified. The dog has her shots and is supposed to be in the backyard so her being out was an accident. I wasnít mad at them. Cyera learned a valuable lesson about being careful around strange dogs. And I am certain that Katie, my neighborís cocker spaniel wonít be slipping out of her backyard very easily in the future.
It worked out in the end. My neighbors, feeling guilty, invited them down to watch a movie with them and their kids. Sensing a slight break, I took them right up on their guilt offer and let 4 of them go to watch the movie while the youngest spent some quality time playing in my sonís room being entertained by my son and his girlfriend. Who am I to interrupt such bonding? I soaked up the quiet. I love quiet.
The kids possess no sense of self preservation and sometimes I forget to issue the warnings that my kids learned long ago. They havenít been around dogs until they met Alex, our Great Dane who is extremely gentle so they donít know about not crowding strange dogs. Any stranger on the street is their friend. Last week we had an eye doctor appointment and I stepped into the exam room for the doctor to write my prescription and when I came out they were crowded around a man waiting for his appointment and Marcus was standing on his lap happy as could be. We finished and the man just kept talking completely charmed by them. I was happy for the man who obviously enjoyed the kids smiling at him, leaning against him and talking to him and slightly horrified as I realized, again, how vulnerable they are. Any stranger on the street could drive by and invite them in to their car and theyíd smile, happy for the attention and go. Weíve had a couple talks about strangers but I know it hasnít sunk in.
To them, strangers represent an opportunity. Apparently, they were handed off to strangers on several occasions and they learned to present a weíre-cute-weíre-charming faÁade to get what they wanted. Itís disconcerting to watch. A couple weeks ago the social worker came to check on us and they turned on the charm leaning against her, showing off for her, soaking in the attention. She thought they were lovely children and complimented me. I didnít know what to tell her. The honest part of me wanted to explain that she wasnít seeing the real children that live in my house. Not that they turn into monsters, but they donít normally spend their time fawning over adults and showing off for them. In real time, they are smart, funny, mean, selfish, laughing, crying, regular little kids with unique personalities. It was too much to sift through so I just said thank you and let it go.
September 11, 2005
This morning I reluctantly called the kids upstairs to begin dressing them for church. It wasnít that I didnít want to go to church, but Iíd really hoped that the kid dressing fairy would show up and do the getting ready for church routine for me. My husband who seriously needs his down time on weekends suggested that I leave them at home and I go by myself. It was oh so tempting! But no, duty won out, kids need to go to church so I thanked him and said Iíd take them and appreciate down time later. Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.
The service and Sunday school begin at 9:45 a.m. At 9:39 the kids were dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, shoes on and ready to go. I, however, was still wearing my nightgown. Sending them downstairs for a couple minutes of quality cartoon time in front of the TV, I rushed into my closet, pulled on a skirt and shoes, grabbed a top and ran out to put on a bra before pulling on the shirt. Running back into the bathroom, I brushed my hair and added mascara.
9:49 and I was running downstairs to load up the van. Lucky for me, it only takes 6 minutes to drive to church so we would be late but still have about 45 minutes of church. Heading into the garage, I realized that I hadnít grabbed my purse. Darn it! I dashed back upstairs and grabbed my purse and back down to buckle up the kids who by now had managed to climb into the van and begin arguing about who would sit where. (They each sit in the same spot every time they ride in the van, but the argument must be played out.) As I lifted my foot to step into the van to buckle seatbelts, I realized with horror that while I was modestly dressed for church I had neglected to pull on panties. Oh. My. Gosh. It wasnít that I was showing any daring amounts of skin, but that I had actually missed pulling on an inherent part of my attire. I can understand being daring and going commando, but being so distracted that I forgot my underwear totally freaked me out. Running back upstairs, my husband watched in astonishment as I grabbed a pair and pulled them on.
ďWhy are you running around without underwear?Ē He asked manfully trying not to laugh.
ďOh shut up,Ē I muttered before heading back downstairs.
Fine. I am stressed but by golly we are heading to church. The kids will receive their dose of God even if it killed me, because I certainly wasnít feeling very holy right then. About a block away from the house, the odor hit me. Tryniti, who had asked to go potty before we left, had a messy diaper. It was my fault for blowing her off and assuming that she just wanted to play on the toilet her current favorite entertainment. She goes potty and I bring a book because she can entertain herself for a looooong time. I am trying to be patient and encouraging because I know it will pay off in the end when she loses interest in playing on the toilet, but knows how to go potty. Christmas break will be her official Iím-a-big-girl-in-panties coming out party. Sigh. I whipped the van around and headed back home. Instructing the kids to sit tight I grabbed Tryniti, ran upstairs once again and changed her diaper.
Again, we left for church only on the way the stress overcame me and I felt tears welling up. Holding a regular conversation with my daughter in the front seat, tears kept overflowing and I assured her that I must be suffering from allergies a bit this year while fiercely telling myself in my head to ďcut it out right nowĒ! By the time I parked at church and unloaded the kids, Iíd managed a tenuous control. Since the kids were all going to Sunday school I though perhaps Iíd spend the service time sitting quietly in my van because I knew that there was nothing seriously wrong other than some major stress. Only people with too much going on forget their underwear. No breaks were forthcoming though because my daughter decided that sheíd go to the service with me instead of her class. I think I made it through one song before the tears hit again. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate crying? Tears flow, my eyes and nose turn red, my lips feel all puffy. Itís not an attractive sight. Feeling guilty for lying I told my daughter I had to run back to the van to grab a napkin because my eyes just wouldnít stop watering. Those darn pesky allergies! I did pray as I walked back to the safety of our van. I prayed ďOh please donít let anyone see me,Ē because as soon as I was out the door the waterworks whooshed out of me like a dam bursting.
To make a pathetic story short, I cried a little, sat in the peace and quiet for a couple minutes and then the thought crept in that even it didnít feel funny at the moment, it was going to be funny later. What if someone asked me what was wrong? How could I explain that I was having a meltdown because I almost ran out of the house without my undies? About 5 minutes before the service ended, I scraped up my courage knowing my social face would be fragile, grabbed my daughter, picked up the kids a minute or two early from their classes and drove home as quickly as possible where my husband took them off my hands for an hour or two. Sure enough, my cell phone rang as we were driving away (my friend calling to ask what was wrong but I didnít answer) and my husband met me as I parked in the driveway because heíd received a call wondering if I was OK. I told him too that I had allergies, but he was smart enough not to believe me.
Thereís a moral or a lesson to be learned but at the moment I am not sure what it is. Maybe, slowdown so you donít forget your panties? Always, listen when the baby says she has to go potty? I donít know, Iíll figure it out later when I am sure that my allergies are under control.
Healing hysteria -Saturday, June 25, 2005
Getting Started - June 3, 2005
A Cellular Affair
CHRISTMAS CHEERS AND JEERS
Ma'am, Is That A Salmon In Your Pocket?
Civilization 101 or 2 or 3
Finding My Senses
Wrestling, Garlic and Weddings
Treading through Emotional Quicksand