Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cutting corners.

After a particularly stupid incident that ended with me crying in a Target store over buying the wrong size jeans, I sent an email to a dear friend. She sent back the kindest reply, telling me to take it easy and cut corners today.

The problem is, cutting corners is already my status quo. I'm already running a bare bones operation here and I already feel like I am failing so hard.

I've had a few days where things weren't so bad and I felt alright, but waking up in my house and thinking of all that needs to get done is overwhelming. And so, I waste those opportune days scattered and flittering about, picking at my chores but achieving nothing tangible. Lately I've been managing to make dinner for the family more often, but that makes even more dishes and takes up time that maybe I should have spent cleaning or picking up. On the days that I am really feeling good, I feel especially guilty for all that the kids have had to endure and so I take them out to do fun things, leaving the chores and the mess to multiply in our absence.

Lately, nobody has been in a good mood. Oliver has been having a very hard time lately, maybe because he's been ignored and stuck living in this big mess. He's stopped taking naps. I'm still fighting him to take the last day of eye drops for his pink eye. Colin has been up all night and skipping his naps, too. He wanders around the house crying for Jared, and when Jared walks through the door Colin will have nothing to do with anything that isn't Jared. Colin, too, is getting over his pink eye but also has an ear infection on both sides. After catching the stomach flu this weekend, Jared is fine, but of course he has to work. By the time he gets home I am so done with everything that I just want to sit with him and ignore everything, so he gets nothing done either. Aside from a sinus infection and cough that refuses to leave, I'm really feeling okay. I'm still having problems with the dizziness that sent me to the ER last week, so I'm trying hard to walk the line between working hard to get things done and relaxing so I don't fall down and hit my head again.

If my children ever grow up to be hoarders, their therapists will trace the origin of their affliction to these months. And let me say, I'm sorry, kids.

My inspiration for getting through all of this is a strange fantasy scenario that I keep building up in my head. Some day it will be warm again, and I will throw open all of the windows and let the breeze suck out all of this sickly, toxic air we've been stewing in. I'm going to wash the windows and let the sunshine spill into this dark house. I'm going to send the kids outside to play. I'm going to sweep all of the sand and salt off the driveway and garage floor. I'm going to go outside and figure out how best to arrange three car seats in our car with the doors open and the radio on.  Here is the best part: I will go through all of our clothes and cupboards and drawers and get rid of stuff.

In my ultimate fantasy scenario, I go to my ultrasound in three weeks and see that the baby is a girl. Which will complete my fantasy not because I really want a girl but because I am so tired of sorting and boxing and saving those stupid boy clothes.  My biggest biggest fantasy is getting rid of those dumb baby clothes I've been saving for forever. Think how great it would feel to have that ultimate decluttering, including those boxes upon boxes of boy stuff.

Oh, the great joy I find in getting rid of things.

Just writing about all of that nice stuff I am going to do has given me my second wind this morning. I'm ready to get up and do all of those things. But since the forecast says that it's going to be freezing for the next foreseeable future, today I am going to pick a room and clean it. I am going to focus and work hard, but I am also going to take small breaks with the timer so I don't burn myself out. And then maybe tomorrow I can do the next room and then the day after that the next room, and I will dig myself out of this hole. I have to start sometime, so hopefully today will be my day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I can go out in public now.

And lo, today I am not dead! Not even dying!

Today is the first day in a long time where I haven't been completely hacking up a lung or barfing or eye crusting or anything disgusting like that! It's almost like I am a human again!

(I mean sure, yesterday I fainted, hit my head, and spent the afternoon in the ER, but that was a great bout of excitement amongst all of this boringness going on here. Low blood pressure is like an exciting flirtation with consciousness! Plus, we're totally hitting our out of pocket max on our insurance this year anyway so I say bring on the medical bills.)

You can tell I've been out of the game for a long time because when I got completely showered, dressed, and fed and I took everybody to class on time this morning Oliver said to me, "Mom, you are doing so good! I am so proud of you!"

Ha! All I have to do to make my son proud of me is practice basic hygiene and punctuality. That's what I call setting the bar low. I like it.

This afternoon I finally made a grocery list comprised of real, unpackaged, perishable ingredients. I didn't even include Poptarts, frozen pizza, or spaghetti. How's that for optimism, people?

Now, in a brazen display of my aptitude, I am going to take down our Christmas/Valentine tree. Will this madness never cease?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines in a fast-casual restaurant.

This afternoon I sat in a restaurant and I ate lunch with my kids. I think it was the first time ever.

I didn't plan on doing it. I was planning on picking up  Oliver from school and driving home like I always do, but I changed my mind. Or, Oliver changed my mind.

As we were walking across the parking lot to our car, he asked me what we were doing special for Valentine's Day. And aside from a giant Valentine cookie that my parents gave to us, I couldn't think of anything we were doing for the kids. When I told him that we weren't doing anything special, he didn't pout or cry or beg. Still, I could tell he was disappointed. I had forgotten how much these trivial little holidays mean to a small person.

I got everyone buckled and then sat a moment behind the wheel remembering Valentine's day when I was in grade school. Days like those were the best breaks in the monotony of school and TV and toys that I'd played with a thousand times already. I thought about the big class party and all of the cards and candy that I got. When I got home, my parents always had something for me. They never forgot. Not once.

And so I changed my mind.

I pulled into Culver's parking lot and asked, "So, how about going to lunch together for Valentine's Day, guys?"

And they were happy. That's all I had to do.

I read them the menu and they both chose what they wanted. Neither of them ate all of their food, but I let them have dessert anyway. I talked to them about things that were important to them, and they talked back. We had a conversation that went beyond what happened at school today, and I was surprised. I didn't know that kind of interaction could happen between us because it usually doesn't. I forget that they are older than I remember them being. I forget that I should see Oliver and Colin as people sometimes, and not just as my children. Just like me and anybody else, they have things that are important to them, too.

While it was just the three of us, it was easy to see that they are so much more than I give them credit for. Expecting a messy disaster, I let Colin sit on the booth next to me instead of in a high chair. I told him that he had to sit like a big boy, and he listened. He sat through the whole meal well behaved. When I got up to get more napkins or more water, he stayed put just like I told him to. When he accidentally dripped ketchup on the table, he wiped it up.

Oliver was equally well behaved. When his food came,  his order wasn't right but he said, "That's okay, I like this too." When Colin wanted a bite of Oliver's food, Oliver shared with him. When it was time to go up to the counter to order his dessert, Oliver walked up there by himself, waited for his turn in line, handed the cashier his coupon as payment, and ordered exactly what he wanted. All by himself.

Both of them acted so much older than I thought they were. This afternoon will be a great reminder to me that one of my most important roles for them is to keep letting them go. To keep letting them do things on their own, to keep trusting that they can do what they need to do. As hard as it is to loosen my grip and let them decide things for themselves, it is a catharsis for me too. Because I led them to where they are now. I helped them be the kids who are able to do those things. My step back allows them to take their own steps forward.

It's so nice to be able to glimpse that confident ableness every once in a while, to see my forest for the trees.

This Valentine's Day, my gift to myself is a nice pat on the back. As easy as it is to doubt yourself as a mother, today I got a sense that I'm doing okay, and that my kids will be just fine.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yes, our Christmas tree is still up.

I keep having bad days. I looked at the calendar, and I have been sick in some way shape or form for the last 65 days. And I keep thinking, well tomorrow has to be better. But tomorrow keeps being worse. Obviously, it started with the barfing. And that was truly terrible, I admit. But when I got a bladder infection, plain ol' barfing didn't seem so bad.

It took me 3 days of miscommunication with the doctor's office just to get my prescription. When I did get my pills, surprise! Taking them makes me barf.

On top of that, I came down with some sort of horrible cold  and sore throat that refuses to leave. It hurts so much to swallow. It hurts so much more to barf. Coughing aggravates my trigger-happy gag reflex even more.

Then, yesterday, I woke up with my right eye crusted shut. And now I have pink eye too.

I am so tired of being sick. The house is a constant mess that we can't keep up with. Laundry gets done not because the hampers overflow but because it's the last possible day we could go through before Oliver is out of pants or Colin needs pajamas or Jared doesn't have any socks.

Our grocery bills for the last few months have been sky high. Without me cooking our meals, we've been relying on packaged and pre-made foods. I forgot how expensive (and unsatisfying) those things are. And despite all of the empty calories and junk that I've been consuming, I've still managed to lose 7 pounds.

Jared, try as he might, can't pick up my extra slack. I am the first person to commend him for his honest and hard efforts, but to be honest, he's not a house keeper. Jobs that would take me twenty minutes take him an hour. He is lost in the kitchen. He attacks laundry and cleaning jobs with an intense but scattered focus that leaves washer cycles half-finished. Certain areas of the house will be cleaned only to ignore the larger, more pressing disasters elsewhere.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this to complain about Jared, I'm so grateful that he is trying his best. Rather, I need to wallow in how far gone I am. I feel guilty that the house is this way and I feel guilty that I do next to nothing with/for the kids. I wish I could get up and make dinner and do laundry like I used to. Some days I even try, but by noon I am wiped out and more miserable and frustrated than before.

Today I managed, just barely, to make a mediocre dinner and put away a load of laundry. And I am exhausted.

If I keep going to bed thinking tomorrow will be better it has to be true sometime, right?