Monday, February 22, 2010

"Snuggie, take me away!"

It was a bit of a rough week last week.  The kids went back to school on Tuesday.  I must say that that was a bit of heaven right there.  But their dad went on travel on Tuesday.  And then I looked around my house.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  What happened here?  Nuclear holocaust?  Fault line running smack through the middle of my house?  Invasion from Mars?  Dirt, salt, mud tracked through the house.  Piles of mail.  Piles of newspapers.  Stuff everywhere.  No horizontal surfaces free of clutter.  Bins for Destination Imagination.  A stack for AWANA Bible Games.  School papers, insurance papers, To Do lists, To Do yesterday lists.  Cookies, cookies, cookies.

And the calendar!  Get this done, get that done; meeting tonight, meeting tomorrow night.  Get everybody ready for the start of cookie booths.  Trip to Children's Friday.  County Science Fair set-up Friday.  County Science Fair Saturday.  AWANA Bible Games Saturday.  Cookie Booth #2 Saturday.  Cookie Booth #3 Sunday.  AWANA Sunday.  Tom's homework Sunday.  And a couple of meltdowns.  Not naming names.

You know that "Calgon, take me away!" commercial?  Has anyone updated that?  Maybe "Prozac, take me away!"  Or "Nice mellow wine, take me away!"  Or "Double chocolate layer cake, take me away!"  I just don't think that "Snuggie, take me away!" has the right impact...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Beware, dental floss, I've got my eye on you...

For the past several days, I've tried just about everything under the sun to keep my daughter busy during our 7,456th snow day this month.  She has played outside, though without a friend to play with, not as happily as I might have wished.  She is on Book 3 of the Percy Jackson series.  She is on the gazillionth level of Wizard 101 on the computer.  We've worked on parts of several Junior Badges, including 4 activities for the Piece of Cake Badge!  And we've made friendship bracelets.  And anklets.  And rings.  We graduated from the pattern in the Junior Handbook and moved on to the Klutz book I had squirreled away.  We've raided the beads bin and embroidery floss and have come up with variations I think are pretty cool.

I'm a little bit nervous, though, about the predicted snow in a few days.  If we have another snow day and run out of supplies, I already have a glimmer in my eye contemplating using dental floss.  Probably the unwaxed...

Buddy Breathing

A few years ago, I saw a show on TV about Navy SEAL training.  At least, I think it was Navy SEAL training.  Anyway, the part I remember is the buddy breathing training.  You know, where you're in the water with someone else, and you have only one air tank between you, so you have to hook up in a special hold and share it.  They teach you how to do that, and then they chuck you and your buddy in the deep end of a swimming pool to practice.  They have a bunch of trainers in the pool agitating the water to mimic rough sees.  Then one trainer swims around and tries to break you and your buddy apart, again, simulating the dreadful force of water in a storm.  Your job is to maintain your hold on your buddy and to continue breathing.  I'm not particularly fond of swimming -- I'm much better at Arts & Crafts -- and I'm very fond of breathing.    I'm not sure I'd do very well in this training.

Lately 'round here we've been hit with several rounds of winter weather -- the terms Snopocalypse, Snomaggedon, and Snoverkill have been bandied about.  Schools have closed, meetings have been canceled; even the federal government shut down for a couple of days.  And while my Girl Scout Service Unit got their cookies, a good number of truck deliveries had to be rescheduled.  I've had regular meetings canceled, extra meetings canceled, rescheduled meetings canceled, rescheduled meetings rescheduled on other regular meetings dates/times and not canceled... My calendar looks like I let a two-year-old with a handful of Sharpies loose on it.  And my daughter wanted me to set up play dates for her during the blizzards -- yes, I said blizzards, in Southern Maryland.  "Mom, can Mollie come over?  You can go get her."  It's white-out conditions out there.  And even afterwards, after hours of clearing the walks, cars, and driveway of snow and ice, I realized I haven't driven in this stuff in over 25 years.  "Can Mollie come over?"  I don't think so.

My stress levels are, umm, a little high.  And while I've enjoyed checking out on blogs and Facebook people's need for wine -- oh, how I wish I drank, and lately, how I wish I drank to excess -- I'm just tired of it.  I need to figure out how I'm going to attend two meetings, both mandatory, at the same time, how I'm going to get my troop ready for World Thinking Day, how I'm going to get the Destination Imagination team ready for it's competition next month, how I'm going to get my daughter ready for her AWANA Bible Games next week, how I'm going to get my son ready for his rescheduled County Science Fair also next week, how I'm going to maintain the support group and see to the needs of the newbies, and how I'm going to schedule and hold 6-10 cookie booths between now and the end of March.  And there's more snow predicted for Monday.  And Tuesday.

All of this leads me to my "problem" with commitment:  If I commit to something, then I need to see it through.  That's why I don't commit if I know I can't finish it and why my work with the LDA and CACSE are on temporary hold.  (Another life lesson I want my children to learn:  Don't make promises you can't keep.  Keep the promises you make -- you may have to be flexible, but keep them.)  I've committed to my family, to Girl Scouts, to Destination Imagination, to AWANA, to the Support Group...  It was going to be a difficult couple of months with a really tight schedule anyway, but now with the weather situation...  I've been having insomnia and panic attacks.  They happen.  Apparently they happen a lot during times of Snoverkill.  Mostly it's about keeping promises in times of trouble.  My panic attacks have a theme similar to buddy breathing:  I've committed myself to sharing my oxygen with this other person in turbulent seas.  My job:  Don't let go.  And breathe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Whistling shrimp in the hangout

I have always wanted to be the the mom who lets her kids' friends come over and hang out.  Be the one to offer a safe place for them.  Not worry overmuch about the furniture or the floors.

My daughter (10 years old) has a good handful of friends, most of whom are also in her Girl Scout troop, which I lead.  In our basement.  Twice a month.  I digress.  What I've discovered over the past couple of years is that even though I really want to be that mom, I usually want them all to go homeNow.  My house is not their playground; it's my house.  My stuff is not for them to touch, pick up, peruse; it's my stuff.  My daughter's stuff is okay to play with but not to strew around the house when interest wanes; put it away when you're done with it.  And please come to play with my daughter and not to play with my daughter's stuff; I know it's new to you, but it hurts her feelings.

Maybe I need to find the middle ground between "the hangout" and "all friends are banned until they learn RESPECT (which means forever)."  Maybe something like posting a list of rules to include:
  • If I already know the answer, don't ask Ms. Terri the question.
  • I always have permission to use the bathroom without asking, and I will wash my hands sufficiently afterwards.
  • If I need help, I will ask for it and not make Ms. Terri guess that I need it.
  • I will clean up after myself.
  • Adults are much more likely to give me what I want if I'm polite and respectful; adults have no desire to give me what I want when I am rude, disrespectful, and demanding.
  • I will lay out my wet snow clothes and boots on the provided mats and let them dry because it is not funny to watch Ms. Terri blow a gasket when she finds them wadded up inside out in a pile on the floor nowhere near said obvious mat.
Yeah, I know.  Shrimp are whistling and pigs are flying.  Maybe I need a Plan B.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"What would you do?" she asked.

I was reading the blog of a friend of a friend.  Her story is so touching.  She's facing major life-altering, life-ending (?) issues, and she asked her readers to share their answers to these questions:  "If you got a really bad diagnosis, what would you do?  What would you change about your life?"  Of course, that got me to thinking...

My first, immediate thoughts were about my children and husband.  Because I can imagine the situation very vividly and therefore distressingly, I have to skip these answers until I get through the other ones, and then come back.

The next wave that hit me was not, as you might imagine, all the soppy, sloppy "make up with my estranged [insert family member here]" people-related changes, nor was it "go sky-diving" kinds of things.  This wave is all about control.  I would finish things:  The last of the trim painting after the kitchen renovation was completed last month.  Going through the laundry baskets of my kids' school work and records for the past three years.  (Really.  They sit there.  In the way.  And they've been in the way for three years.  I now view them as ugly, unfunctional furniture and pile things on them until they slide off -- much the way I treat my similarly ugly, nonfunctional -- because I don't use it -- treadmill.)  Take the bins of stuff for the next yard sale to the donations center instead of letting them sit in the basement.  Make decisions about all the stuff that falls under my purview.  Get my ducks in a row.  (I said this was about control, didn't I?)

I've thought about the people-related idea, too.  I'm good with my siblings, though I'd want to talk with my brother more.  (Love him, just don't talk with him much.)  I don't think I could make up with my father and his wife, and I'm not sure that I'd want to put my energy there as the chances of reaching a successful understanding are slim.  (One would have to have the capability to see past one's own interests; since that's not the case, I think that I'd be doing all the conceding, which wouldn't be coming from the heart, and so it would fester.)  However, answering the "what would you do" question is a hypothetical for me at this moment, so if it were real, maybe the above wouldn't matter and I'd suck it up, Buttercup, anyway, knowing that it was the right thing to do.  That leads right into my relationship with my mother.  My mother is mentally ill.  I can't give her what she thinks she needs from me; it's not healthy.  She's not interested in addressing her issues, and I can't make them mine.  I've mourned the loss several times over, at each "life stage" and for "little things" when mothering wasn't given.  Again, the right thing to do might be to leave her feeling that there is no unfinished business.  I don't know if I have the necessary Christian charity in me.  Perhaps these people-related areas need a lot of prayer and divine help.

On an easier note, I don't have any "go sky-diving" wishes.  Not one.  The closest thing would be getting slim enough to fit my sorry self into a movie theater seat without pinching my bohunkus in the armrests, but I can only assume that whatever the "bad diagnosis" is would likely be addressing this sort-of wish, and Hollywood would have to make better films to get me to spend my breathing time closed in a giant, dark box for two hours...

Having gotten through the above, I'm left with those things which I can imagine so well that I cry at the thought.  Were this my reality, I don't know how I would continue, I would be so overcome.  The question pulls answers from a mother's stock of nightmares:  Being separated from your child/ren in  the ultimate of separations. This breaks my heart.  Both of my children have special needs, and I'm the one who sees to them.  My husband is in the picture, but I'm the one who schedules appointments, takes them, follows up, deals with the insurance woes, sees to the daily needs, the school needs...  I'm also in charge of regular jobs such as homework, play dates, AWANA, Girl Scouts, Destination Imagination.  Over the years, I've come to know that my husband can take care of our kids.  He'll see to their needs.  It's just not the way I see to their needs.  It would be very difficult for him to take care of the kids and work his full-time job -- the one that he has to keep because of the insurance benefits.  (What is Autism if not a pre-existing condition?)  We also don't live near family -- three hours away are the closest.  The best are 4.5 hours away.  Perhaps by doing all those control things mentioned above, I'd not freak about this part.  But I doubt it.  That part is my perspective.

However, what will my children do without their mother (in the general sense)?  While children do survive without their mothers, how do they thrive without them?  How will they learn the things they need to know that mothers teach their children?  How will they deal with all the situations that need a mother?  And how will they be without me, Mom?  I'm their mom; I won't be here.  How will they grieve that loss?  How do you prepare them for that loss?  How do you comfort them when you're not here to do it?  (Now I'm crying, and there's a weight on my chest, and it hurts.)  How can I communicate to them my greatest desires for them as adults:  that they have integrity (to do what's right even when nobody is looking), that they know that what they do has an impact on others, that they be kind to others (not patsies, but kind), and that they live their lives so that they have no regrets.

What will my husband do without his wife?  How will he deal with all the things that have to get done?  How will he remember to see past the work to the joy that remains?  And what will my husband do without me?  We've had some bumps along the way, but he's my best friend and has been for 27 years.  What do you do with such a void?  I know that I've always believed that he should "go out and love some more" a la Harold & Maude, but will he?

So what would I do if I got a bad diagnis?  My husband and children know that I love them to the sun and the moon and the stars and back again.  I'd have to love them and love them and love them and love them and love them.  For as long as I could show them.  And then I'd have to trust that they remember that.  I think I'd try to make some outstanding memories for them of the little, daily things.  (I remember of my own mother that when we were little and wanted to ride our bikes, she'd get out the folding lawn chair and sit by the mailbox; she'd drink her Fresca and watch us go back and forth from the curve in the road to the left of her over to Spring St. on the right.  "Hi, Mom!  Look at me!"  She'd smile and wave and take a sip.  Those kinds of memories.)  But oh, how it would hurt me to know that I wouldn't be there later.

So to the friend of a friend who faces, "If you got a really bad diagnosis, what would you do?  What would you change about your life?" I have to offer prayers for comfort, for strength, for peace.  Prayers to know how to hang on to life tenaciously and how to let go if she must.  But, oh, how I hope that she stays.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lingering Chest

Been cleaning out my lingerie chest.  It wasn't my intention to clean out my lingerie chest.  However, a certain person in my house decided that the contents of said chest needed to be on the floor and not in said chest, and once that certain person had picked them all up off the floor, I wasn't going to put them all back in without taking advantage of the current purge movement going on around here.  (How's that for finding the silver lining in an ugly incident?)

Anyway, I should really call that piece of furniture a lingering chest.  That's where otherwise unclassifiable stuff gets put, and it lingers there, unseen, unused, unloved, for years.  In addition to the items you'd expect to find in a lingerie chest -- items that may not have ever fit me -- I purged the ted hose from my gall bladder surgery, saved because some day I might need them, and they're very expensive if I have to buy them new, or I might need them as a back-up pair while Pair #1 is in the laundry.  I also purged the boy shorts underwear that I thought would be so comfy, along with the girlie versions of the boy shorts that, in hindsight, are actually granny panties that make my hind a sight more than they ought.  And the trouser socks with no elasticity left, not that the elastic ever landed in a place that would do any good as mid-fattest-part-of-the-calf is not the ideal elastic landing zone for keeping socks up.

I still have to sort through the toastie socks.  This is going to be tough.  I wear them to bed but kick them off overnight, leading to a big problem:   Much like the lone sock in the dryer, by morning, I can find only one of the toastie socks toed off overnight.  It seems that the bottom of my bed has become the Twilight Zone for toastie socks.  I've taken to wearing mismatched pairs because really, it's dark at night, under the covers, so who cares if my toastie socks match?  And now my purging job is harder:  I just discovered that lingering in the lingerie chest lo these seven years was a pair of Looney Tunes Taz Toastie Socks.  Some things you just don't purge.