Tuesday, February 4, 2014

tangential musings on my ever-unfolding new normal

I see the picnic blanket by the front door and it reminds me of a time when my life was simpler, happier, carefree.  Well, that sounds awfully utopian.  It’s not, really.  Just compared to now, it was definitely those things.  I see that blanket and I am reminded of lazy afternoons at the gardens, the weather in the 70’s and breezy – paradise -- while the kids romp in nature and the mamas lay around chatting and basking in the sunshine on said blanket.  The buffet of snacks is intermittently being raided by hungry children, taking a small break from their rumpus to refuel.  

Thinking of that buffet of snacks brings to mind a fact that I have been in denial of.  Since my children started school and are eating 10 meals a week there, they have lost their appetites for some of what used to be staple foods in our diet.  They still love raw veggies, all kinds of fruit, and boiled eggs.  But they have lost their appetite for most nuts and seeds.  That seems like a ridiculous thing for me to be stuck on, but yet I am.  I guess it’s because in my attempt to steer our family toward a healthier/whole foods diet, I value nuts and seeds as a convenient, portable snack that meets the craving for crunchy, and maybe salty, and provides protein and fat, which are great fuel in a small package.  So now, they want chips and crackers.  What the hell are they feeding them at school??  I mean, I already knew that the menus at school are sub-par to my own preferences for my children, but I force myself to turn a blind eye because financially, we need them to be eating 10 meals a week there.  That, and I just cannot be bothered to pack 3-4 lunches per weeknight.  It would just be one more thing on my never-ending to-do list.  I barely manage to prep the coffee maker the night before, which is something I need to do because for some reason, I cannot bear the thought of getting out of bed in the morning unless I can smell fresh coffee.  Weird? 

There is a name for my daily struggle.  Sleep Inertia.  Like, that’s a clinical term.  I ran across it while researching child mental health a while back and I had a bit of an epiphany.  Bipolar people often have extreme difficulty waking up in the morning.  If I am woken suddenly, my heart pounds and I shake.  Side effect of a medication?  Maybe.  I really have no idea why it takes me so long to get moving in the morning.  I swear I have to lay in bed for like an hour before I can muster the strength to get out of it.  And I don’t believe it is a depression thing, although some may say that I have been in a perpetual state of varying degrees of depression for most of my life.  (Except when I’m manic, of course.  Well, hypomanic, as my meds allow.  Slightly different monster, but most people don’t know the difference so I just say manic.  It’s shorter too.  Less syllables.)  So. The theory behind Sleep Inertia is, obviously, that my body does not come out of sleep state as easily as the average person.  It literally takes me hours to feel truly awake.  Drinking lots of coffee when I’m very sleep deprived does not do much more than make me jittery and weak, and sometimes even makes me feel even MORE incapacitated.  Weird again.

Okay.  Random tangent over.  Back to the picnic blanket.  Playdates.  Socializing.  Group meetups.  They are all in the past.  Last year turned my world upside down, and while some things have calmed down, my life is so very different than it used to be, and I know I will never get back to the way it was.  My baby isn’t a baby anymore, and I will never have another baby.  I’m okay with that part, and there is a tremendous feeling of freedom to know that we are out of babyland forever and can finally start living in a way we have been unable to do for the past 10 years.  So it’s bittersweet.  Most of my local friends are in the early stages of motherhood.  They have one, maybe two children, none of which are school age.  Or they ARE school age, and our paths have parted due to normal life circumstances.  And that’s okay.  It’s like graduating from high school and going our separate ways.  It’s not personal, it’s just life.

Point is, I feel a little lonely.  On one hand, the introvert in me can finally breathe and nurture its need for me to get plenty of alone time.  I do not handle chaos well.  It really freaks me out and I yell and throw tantrums (sort of).  It’s not pretty, and it’s definitely not who I desire to be.  (At least I'm mindful of it?)  So now the kids are in school, Robby has been shipped off to a “boarding school” for troubled kids, and the 3 year old is now officially addicted to TV.  And I let her get that way.  Sometimes I feel like I’m an unfit mother. Not because my 3 y/o watches too much TV (I’m sure there are many kids out there who watch more, and with much worse content), but because I am enabling her addiction just so she’ll leave me alone.  I feel guilt about that, but part of me is selfishly attempting to take care of my own needs first, and what I need is to be left alone.  A lot.

On the other hand, for lack of fostering more than one or two close friendships in my new life (new as in in the past 5-6 years, since I hooked up with the AP crowd), I do feel alone.  Schedules make it difficult to meet up with people.  Everyone’s life circumstances are constantly changing.  A new job here, a divorce there, a far away move thrown in for good measure.  But now, because of my son’s facility placement, I get to regularly visit with some dear, dear friends that I have lost touch with over the past few years for various reasons.  I feel I can be ME around them.  That is what I define as a close friendship.  We may have our differences, but we speak of them gently or not at all.  That’s okay.  We mesh well in enough other ways that those other things don’t matter.  

I am starting to feel like I’m getting the old me back.  Someone who has been suppressed for years as I have tried to transform myself into someone I so desperately want to be.  If there is one thing that my various experiences over the past 3 years or so have taught me, it’s to stop giving a damn.  Do what works for you.  Compromise.  There is no such thing as perfection.  Let some things go.  Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.  I am healing. Long road.  Long journey.  Neverending. 

I have lost my train of thought.  I’ll close now since my back is hurting from this typing posture.  Wah.