Perspective After a Good Night’s Sleep

The night of sleep, long but fitful, did not serve to reset my heart and mind. Potamus’s sweet voice, saying “let’s get up mama,” roused me from my already-awake-but-not-wanting-to-face-the-day musings. Bowl of cheerios. Dog trying to steal cheerios. A few games of Candyland. Another glass of orange juice. All normal morning routine. Except for the slumbering husband still peaceful in bed. And my bad attitude.

I did self care. Coloring in my new National Parks coloring book. Yoga class at my local gym. Boof took Potamus to the store and to watch the Blue Angels land at Boeing field while I got a chance to write. There was downtime for me. And yet, my nerves were shot. The brushing teeth struggle particularly highlighted it, while he, yet again would not brush his teeth without a rabid coyote battle, I cussed and imagined myself smashing every dish in the house.

I bowed out of bedtime routine and watched trashy TLC TV while self-loathing on York peppermint patties.

My Queen Mother rage inside me is frightening. My unpredictable emotions scare me, and I look into the face of my sweetness and think about how I must be breaking his spirit, or creating a fear of pissing me off in him, like I’ve somehow managed to do in every other person who knows me. The flashbacks to the time in high school when I was so out of control with rage that I was throwing glasses on the ground in a giant 15 year old tantrum of depression and not being understood plays in my mind. Knowing that exists inside me is scary as fuck.

I woke up this morning in a different place. Potamus snuggled into me and said, “I want to be big like mommy and daddy.” Some of my softness had returned, and so I explored, “what do you mean buddy.” “Just, I want to do things like mommy and daddy. Like play ball. And be big.”

“Is it hard that you’re little, and mommy and daddy make you do things you don’t want to do, like brush your teeth.”

“Yeah,” he said, burrowing his head into my neck.

“Yeah, it’s hard for mommy and daddy, too. We tell you to do those things because we want you to grow up to be big like mommy and daddy. It would be more fun if we didn’t have to make you do those things.”

My heart is tender today. I feel so bad for this sensitive kid I’m raising. I feel bad for myself as a sensitive parents, who gets so overstimulated that I shut down and act like an insane person. I’m glad for re-connection and perspective. Maybe I’ll be able to take it going forward, when I forget my compassion and empathy.

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When I can’t be there…

903894_10151566658399467_305534970_oYesterday my Monday blues lingered until I hopped in my car to drive to the daycare to pick up Potamus. I was so excited to see his chubby cheeks and get to snuggle him up into his carseat and hear him babble about his day. There are many days where I really want to be at work, and then there are days, like yesterday, when I just want to scoop up my little one and hold his tiny hand and go for a walk.

I walked quickly back to his classroom, it already dark outside (thanks a lot Daylight Savings) and saw him run toward me in his too-short-pants indicating that he had peed through his clothes at naptime again. And his face was red. Had he been crying?

“He sat in front of your picture and cried all day today. I had to move him, and then he’d come back and sit in front of your picture, saying ‘mama,’ and crying.” his teacher said.

Gulp.

She said it in a “isn’t that sweet?” sort of tone, but all I heard was: my kid said mama and reached out to a picture for comfort and comfort didn’t come and so he cried.

I felt like shit.

Whose bright idea is it to have the kid’s All About Me’s plastered at eye height in the reading nook of the daycare? Seriously, there at the age that ‘out of sight out of mind’ is best, especially for my sweetly sensitive peanut. I felt overwhelmed with grief, that I had sent him to school hopped up on tylenol for a runny nose and he was sad and spent the day crying and wanting me, and I didn’t come.

But I did come, eventually, and all was right with the world. And when I talked to his regular teacher, she said that he hadn’t cried all day, but he had been sad at some points, and seeing my picture made him more sad instead of being comforted. Today they’re taking the picture down so as not to bother him more.

I kept thinking about my own childhood, though, from that experience. How I’d look at the very few photos of my birthmom and wonder what she was like…and did I actually miss her? I remember looking at pictures of my friends and family while i lived in India, and crying, from homesickness when I saw their smiling faces. There’s something both comforting and heartbreaking about holding a picture when all you want is a hug.

And it’s amazing how quickly kids move on. I’m still thinking about it twenty four hours later…after talking about it to my friend, and my mom, and Boof, and my therapist. Potamus had moved on as soon as he saw me. All lingering thoughts were gone to the wayside and all was right with the world. He didn’t hold a grudge when I left again at night for therapy. In fact he blew kisses and snuggled up with dad on the couch. But the feeling of not being able to be there for him, when he needed me, is lingering. I know it’s a fine balance, of independence and letting children experience the hardships and heartaches of the world, and being able to provide a safe and comforting bosom for them to come back to.

The feeling is lingering. How do I move forward?

Winter Pills

I have the prescription. It’s sitting in my car, and is good for 5 months of refills. It will get me through the winter, with only needing to see my doctor again once as spring approaches. And truthfully, while it sounds like crazyville, I have some leftover pills from my previous prescription that haven’t expired and so I could get started even before I get this prescription filled. But I’m holding off. Holding off at the request of my new therapist, who is a psychologist, and one that I’m clearly trying to impress with my perfect-counseling-client skills.

Yes, I recognize the crazy.

Because she she said it could be SAD and that a ‘happy light’ might be really beneficial. And it’s advice that my massage therapist had recommended a long time ago, and something I’ve just known from my own counseling practice. Happy lights give a special wavelength to the brain to increase energy. To simulate, at a really low level, the sun which is absent from the Seattle-gray skies. And while I’ve been using it for a week, and can maybe tell a tiny little difference in energy, that could also be attributed to yoga, and getting more sleep.

But it hasn’t taken away the feeling that everything is falling apart. And I know that not everything is falling apart, because I haven’t gone over the cliff yet. There is still this rationale brain happening that looks around and sees that we are in a very calm place right now. My marriage is being strengthened by many really good conversations and carving out time for each other, my mommy guilt over doing things for myself in the evenings (yoga/therapy/girls night) is next to nil, and my work is feeling pretty smooth. And yet I feel one blink away from sobbing. Not tearing up at some misty-eyed news, but full on ugly cry, with mascara dripping down my nose. Holding it together feels entirely too exhausting, but what other choice do I have? A nervous breakdown is not something that will really fit into my schedule.

So maybe I’ll get the prescription. Or maybe I’ll keep on hanging on by a thread for a little while longer, because this happy light and herbs can make my brain better, right?

 

Both Sides Now- Joni Mitchell is a birthmother

Sometimes my emotions run so deep that words, written, or said verbally, cannot even begin to touch the depth. And in those moments I turn to music, and have been known to listen to the same song (or set of songs) again-and again-and again, until something changes or I cannot cry anymore.

I can’t write more about it. My heart is hurting too much, so I’m sharing my go-to song to express the depth of emotions that I am feeling at the news of a sweet 4 year old being ripped from her tribe, her daddy, her sister and extended family, and thrust into the confusing world of being raised by genetic strangers with a reality that doesn’t match the reality that you know in your heart.

This is a song I grew up with. My dad sang it to me as a little girl, because I loved the imagery of bows and flows of angels hair. I listened to it a thousand times before I knew that Joni Mitchell was a birthmother in reunion with her daughter. And while we may dicker about whether it was really written with adoption or reunion in mind, I’ll say that it cuts to my very soul and makes me feel the complexity of life and confusion seeing the world from the perspective of innocence, and the eyes of the ‘old soul’ who has witnessed far too much in such a short amount of time.

And so, this song is for Veronica.

Both Sides Now
-Joni Mitchell
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that wayBut now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my wayI’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

What music can you listen to repeatedly? Any mood music (sad/happy/angry/depressed) that is your go to? 

Breaking up is hard to do…

Sometimes, out of nowhere, I am punched in the gut with nostalgia. This week it happened while perusing Offbeat Home & Life’s daily offerings and I cam across the article: Exploring the very painful world of friendship breakups. I could barely read the title before I was bombarded with a rush of memories. There was Peter Pan in the park, laying awake and watching the starts in her pickup truck while we overlooked our college town, and long long loooong talks after church on the green couch in the intern room. There were Survivor Nights and Bible Studies and many talks of demons and the perfect boyfriend and family drama and Narnia.

She was my best friend.

After college we both moved away and life happened. The first year we talked all the time, even racking up a 1,000 roaming phone bill while I lived in New York for a summer, and made all sorts of wonderful plans about our future as friends. And then, we stopped talking.

It probably wasn’t that dramatic, because, she was in my wedding, and then I was in hers. But weekly phone-calls turned to monthly turned to every six months. My heart felt broken in a way that a man has never done. It was this ache for a friendship love that I cannot accurately describe. And, without Facebook, I don’t think I’d know anything about her life. But, it’s not for a lack of trying.

When I tell people about this soulmate-friend, because that’s how it feels, they always question why I don’t call her. And I say, “I did, for a long time,” and it’s true. I called. I called and called and left messages. I waited months and then called again. And, at some point, I need to have reciprocity. Despite my anguish over her not being in my life, I cannot simply spend my energy on a one-sided relationship. I can’t. I don’t know what went wrong between the two of us, if anything, or if time and distance and life have just gotten in the way, so I don’t blame her or myself for the brokenness. But I am sad, nonetheless about the absence of her friendship in my life. And I want to tell her:

Dear Lewis-

Let’s be friends again like old times?

Love,
Clark

I guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead

Goldfish

It’s been a rough few days of little sleep and LOTS of whining (from both mama and son). And so, today, on my day off, I figured that I would let the house go a bit, and rest while Potamus rests. I haven’t done that since maternity leave, and by God I deserve a mid-day sleep.

But karma had other plans.

I had nestled into our comfy (and empty) king-sized bed. I had let my mind wander, and get drowsy, and didn’t pick up my cell phone at all. I got up to pee once (or three times, whatever), but felt relaxed and hopeful, for at least an hour long nap. But then, I heard crying. I tried to ignore it. The whimpering got louder. I prayed he would go back to sleep, that it was just some rustlings on his way back to dreamland. Alas, after ten minutes I realized he meant business. I had let my guard down, had almost been asleep, and now, wide awake with a messy house and a fussy toddler.

At daycare Potamus naps from 11-1, sometimes 1:30. With grandma, yesterday, he napped from 8-9:30 and from 2-4:30. Today, for me, he napped from 11-12.

I feel like crying.

And, to top it all off, all he will eat is graham and fishy crackers.

Now What? Moving on After Rejection.

I’m trying to remind myself that we are all made of sparkle dust, souls merely existing earth-bound for a period of time, and that, in cliche terms, this too shall pass, but hot damn I haven’t cried so much in months.

Yesterday Boof found out that the job he wanted, the firm we felt SO good about, the one he had built relationships with people who seemed to really get him and be excited to offer him a job…isn’t going to happen. The official rejection letter came on Saturday. We were crushed. Not just crushed because, at this moment, he has no other options lined up, and that firms are so far into their interviewing/hiring process that he has virtually no shot, but because we had felt so good about it. So good. That gut feeling that I always get when something is going to work out…yeah…that meter is clearly off now.

Square one.

In the practical reality of things, nothing has changed, save the hope that things would be different come the first of the year. Boof is still studying for his CPA exams, watching Potamus in conjunction with his own mom, and we are still scrimping and relying on our in-laws to float us indefinitely. I am still the not-quite-enough-breadwinner, the one who gets up in the dark and leaves my sleeping boys to trudge through rainy traffic to the ‘office.’

Nothing has really changed.
And we aren’t even at risk for feet of flooding like my East Coast friends.

Sparkle on.