Saturday, July 28, 2012

A mothering revelation many years in the making

I remember so little of my days prior to being a mom, but this week I recalled something that has given me insight on why I am balls-to-the-wall nuts by 3:00 during the summer when I get not a stitch of time to myself.  

Before our kids, when D and I traveled, after about 3 days I was about ready to ring D's neck.  Not because of anything he had done or not done (he is, overall, a very easy person to be around).  I just needed s-p-a-c-e.  I was just tired of talking to the same person, being around the same person, watching the same person's idiosyncracies and routines day in and day out without a break.

And so even though my kids are, at times, irritating, frustrating, and annoying but overall completely awesome kids, the problem really and truly is not them.  It is me.  I just need space.....some downtime away from them....from someone saying, "Mom, look at this," and then proceeding to pick his/her nose or some other completely mundane and inane thing that kids think warrants an audience and validation. Even though I am an extrovert and generally get my energy from being around others, the truth is that I need a variety of others to be around or my energy begins to drain.  

I think this is why I really liked middle school teaching.  Even if there was a student or a class that I found particularly aggravating, I only had to deal with them for 50 minutes (possibly up to 90 if we had extended schedules).  Perhaps this was why I very quickly nixed the idea of becoming certified to teach elementary when N began kindergarten.  The idea of spending 6+ hours with the exact same group of kids would drive me nuts, as it does now with my own kids during the long summer break.  

As I continue in this mothering journey and have these little revelations about myself, I feel a clearer understanding of my own parents' limitations as parents and why they weren't able to always give me what I needed.  It is simply impossible.  I cannot change the core of who I am and what I am able to be simply because I carried and birthed children.  

These revelations reaffirm my belief that I need to play to my strengths as much as I can and explain to my children (in this blog and in other ways) that certain things are just the way I am.....and it really and truly is not them....although, like me, it might take until they become parents to get it fully.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Getting older and medication tweaking

Because I'm not in the throes of despair and have come to terms with taking medication, I sometimes forget that I have mood issues.  Eventually, though, I will have a brief relapse that reminds me that I am not cured, only in remission and continual recovery.

I suspect I am starting to experience peri-menopause because my PMS mood symptoms, which have always been unpleasant for me and others, have worsened considerably over the past year.  The frustrations of dealing with young children and their constant badgering day in and day out also contributes to my angry blow-ups.  I have a very, very hard time recovering my tenuous mood stability when every single morning I have G or M (and often both) subject me to an argument or crying fit.  Though I might try mightily to remain calm, the boys' tantrum stamina is too much for me.  By the time lunch rolls around, when they are becoming tired and cranky, I have only just recovered from the morning.

At my last psychiatrist visit, I explained the situation and am now free to take an extra half-dose of my antidepressant during my PMS time.  It helps, but it also brings back a little of that feeling of, "Why can't I deal with this on my own...without meds?"

This PMS/age-related stuff, in addition to bumming my knee a bit during a workout last year and trying unsuccessfully today to fit into my wedding dress (what WAS I thinking attempting that???) has got me really stewing over turning 39 later this summer.  Since I'm not a procrastinator, I like to get my freaking out over turning 40 over and done with the year prior.

When I think of myself now, compared to who I was at 21 or 24, I like myself so much more.  Maybe it is the life experiences...the blessings of time and a small nugget of wisdom I may have picked up along the way.  But I dislike how my body tends to just do what it likes without my brain, my chemicals, my hormones, my overly-stretched abdominal wall.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Full to the brim with arghhh!

The title might suggest I'm indulging in the revelry of "Be a Pirate Day," but it is just how I'm feeling some 6 weeks into summer break.

I'm done.
Please reinstate the routine.

I am tired of packing the cooler for the pool.

I'm tired of carrying 4 towels, 2 life jackets, a blow-up boat, various dinosaurs and superheroes, 3 bottles of sunscreen, the cooler, swim diapers, and a swim mask through the parking lot into the pool enclosure.

I'm tired of attempting to go to the store with 3 kids.  (I have found 2 times this summer that I have inadvertently spent $15+ (each time) I never would have spent because I didn't have the ability to watch the kids and watch the scanner at the same time.)

I'm tired of trying to get N to do math problems in her SummerBridge workbook.

I'm tired of shlepping all 3 kids to the gym to workout twice a week.  I think this summer might be referred to from here on out as "The Summer of Herding Cats" because all 3 of them, like cats, are of their own mind and have their own pace.

I'm tired of trying to find activities that somewhat appease all 3 kids.  Yesterday I stood at the pool fence, watching N jump off the diving board, keeping an eye on G who was in the 3 foot without a life jacket, and paying attention to M who was in the kiddie pool.  My neck was a swivel.

I'm tired of the kids going to bed late because it is light until close to 9:30.

I'm tired of watching SpongeBob and Good Luck, Charlie.  And, yes, I could turn it off but then I have to listen to my children fight with each other.  When I do take a notion to play with one of them, I cannot because the other 2 start vying for attention (which in this world means they jump on my back while I'm laying on the floor trying to play a card game).  The games they like to play with each other all together are things like, "Mommy, Throw Pillows at Us" and "Tag."  Between all the schlepping of junk I'm doing and listening to them fight, I haven't the energy to play such games.

I'm tired of attempting to clean one area of the house and, upon finishing, finding 3 completely different yet equally huge messes in other areas of the house.

Summer break would do well to be considerably shorter, not only for the benefit of students and avoiding the summer slump, but most importantly for my state of mind.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A sneaking suspicion I might be an idiot (The Story of the Ring)

I like to think I'm a pretty bright person, but lately I have been having "out of body" experiences during which I put myself in the shoes of someone who could be/might be watching me.  Unfortunately, it has dawned on me that I might come across as a complete moron.

There was that one afternoon when I decided to take apart and recycle the broken kid-size basketball goal, my $4 Goodwill bargain I purchased when N was a toddler.  The bottom stand was weighted down with wet sand so I poured out what I could and then proceeded to use a hack-saw to cut the remainder apart.  G and M were outside with me, having more fun playing in the wet sand than they had ever had playing with the basketball goal.  I was slaving away with the hack-saw and continuously searching for tools to help make this process slightly easier.  To no avail.

It occurred to me that my dear neighbors, H and T, might be watching and adding this as another "Carrie is a dumbass" example to their list.  Just a week or so prior, they'd watched me attempt to light old charcoal 4,000 times before asking me if I needed some lighter fluid.  (Having no lighter fluid of my own, by the 2,000th failed lighting attempt I had started to run through the possibly flammable liquids in the house I might safely use to set these b*tches on fire.)

My complete dumb-ass move of this past week occurred on Thursday when I met a friend at the park whom I hadn't seen in years.  I removed my rings to put sunscreen on the kids and put them in my pocket.  Perhaps in my delight at seeing and catching up with my friend, I completely forgot about the rings until we were on our way to get ice cream after spending a few hours watching the kids enjoy the playground and splash pool.

I had my engagement ring and wedding band in my pocket, but not my mothers ring (my beautiful ring that has all our birthstones in it which D bought for me after M was born).

Panic set in as we drove back to the park and began searching.

N and I searched the picnic area, the spray area, the bench where my friend and I had sat, and the monkey bar area where I had been lifting the boys to help them.  We searched the path we walked to get to the park from the parking lot.  We searched the parking lot.  My friend gave my number to a group of about 30 kids and their chaperones from the YMCA and asked them for their assistance in finding the ring.  No ring.  It was gone, and my stomach was in knots.

I called D.  I called my mom and dad.  I called insurance to file a claim.  I posted something on Facebook along the lines of "My day is f*cked.  My ring is lost."

Strangely enough, my neighbor (whose fish we've been feeding while he and his family have been on vacation) posted that I should borrow his metal detector to see if I could find the ring.  Prior to his post, when my dad suggested I use a metal detector, I thought, "Who in their right mind keeps a metal detector just laying around?"  But when my neighbor made his offer my thought was more along the lines of, "What a brilliant man to keep a metal detector just laying around!"  How circumstances can change a person's point of view....

The boys had refused to nap, so I hauled everyone into the car, picked up the metal detector and headed back to the park, pulling into the exact spot where we'd parked that morning.  N got out of the car.  I put M's shoes on and let him climb out of the car.  I put G's shoes on, and he climbed out of the car.  I followed behind, looked down at the pavement to step out and saw my mothers ring directly in front of me.

The metal detector remained sitting on the passenger side seat.
That thing worked so well I didn't even have to turn it on!

I hugged the kids!
I called D!
I felt my stomach immediately untwist itself!
I called insurance and canceled the claim!

I stopped mentally berating myself for being a complete idiot and started referring to myself as a thankful idiot.

And I swore that emissions and particulates in the lungs be damned, I'm using spray sunscreen from here on out.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A qualified success?

Early in June, D and I planned to take the kids on an overnight trip about two hours from our home at the end of the month.  We intended to visit a local zoo, explore some caves and check out a dinosaur "museum" of sorts.  This last idea sounded like a great one until G had this experience at our city zoo's dinosaur exhibit.

My SIL and niece visited this dinosaur museum we intended to visit and informed us that the dinosaurs there did not move or make any kind of noise so we asked G if he wanted to go.  At first he said no, but then he spent the entire week following this conversation carrying around the dinosaur museum brochure and asking every morning upon waking at 6:00, "Is today the day we see the dinosaurs?"

Somehow parenthood has turned me into an eternal optimist because last weekend, convinced that G could not only handle seeing dinosaurs that don't move or make any sound, but was eager to, we headed a few hours down the expressway.

Less than one mile from the dinosaur "museum," G turned his head towards the back of the car, squeezed his eyes shut and starting crying that he did not want to go see the dinosaurs.

Oh jeez.

But we went anyway because we were so close.  I had to do much soothing, calming, convincing and tongue-biting.  G managed to look at the dinosaur sculptures in the parking lot and in the courtyard of the exhibit.  He adamantly refused to walk the trail and see them in the forest-like setting so I carried him.  In 100+ degree heat.  Like any good stupid momma would.

He kept his head firmly planted in my neck with eyes shut tight.  I managed to get him to loosen his death-grip on my neck.  And he didn't scream in my ear or cry as I walked along, which was a vast improvement over how he acted at our local zoo.

He did enjoy the fossil dig part of the day.
And the gift shop where we bought him a Transformer-like dinosaur for being brave (that he broke within 15 hours of purchase).

By the end of the visit, he felt courageous enough to do this.  

After that, the rest of the trip was cake.  

 A cave museum.

 A Smithsonian roots music exhibit. 
(Me and my own "Spoon Man" ala Soundgarden.)

Our first cave.  
G said, "I am NOT going in that cave," then proceeded to go into the cave and ask the tour guide a bunch of questions.

A small zoo featuring lots of Australian animals. 
A keeper showed N how to make a sound that would get the kookaburra's response.  
We laughed like idiots every time the kookaburra laughed.

Another cave.

The kids were able to pet a kangaroo and emu.

Playing didgeridoos. 

Getting up close with snakes.

My inquisitive little guy ready to ask a question. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Insanity is....

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The first time I did this, this was the result.

The second time I did this, I fully expected the experience to be different.  Two years later, G is practically a different kid.

Or not.

 Everything is fine and dandy on the way in...

Then this guy moved and roared....

Which caused this little guy to scream and cry and wrap himself around me.  (2010 Redux)

Thank goodness I had Nana with me this time.  

Back on the block

Prior to May, I had never taken a real break from blogging since I began writing this blog, and I didn't quite understand when other bloggers I read would impose these breaks on themselves.

But now I get it.  Disconnecting from the blog and limiting my time on Facebook has been a good thing.  I am far more productive during the day, and I feel more connected to my family.

Still, I have missed sharing my life on the blog with my friends who read, and there is something about having this blog that feels like it is a living/breathing testament to my life as a mood-disordered mama, rather than just my rantings on paper stuffed in a box.


How have I been connecting with my family during my hiatus.....

By doing a mud-run with my daughter in May....

By taking the kids to a fun new exhibit at the science museum.....

By going swimming....

 By planning and executing an art show/patch ceremony for N's Girl Scout troop.....

By going peach and black raspberry picking with my 3 and N's friend (which either makes me awesome or crazy)......

By taking the kids (and friend) to a historic cabin following our fruit-picking fun...

By sending N to Girl Scout camp (and G to Pixie camp while I volunteered)....

By visiting a nearby Patrick Dougherty sculpture....

All of this, and today is only the 3rd of July.  Surely I get an award for keeping them educationally entertained thus far.