Monday, September 24, 2012

Pull Down Your Pants and Slide on the Ice

I have spent the last few weeks feeling like I have a head full of bees.

It's not a pleasant feeling, this anxiety/anger/annoyance/exhaustion mix.  It's not easy dragging my ass out of bed in the morning/evening/whenever I have to get up, either.  However, I, like every other shift worker with kids, do it.  I nap when I can to try and take the edge off.

Why all the bees?  Nothing and everything, I would suppose.  Work is stupid busy and very stressful as there are some major changes coming down the pipe.  These will be good for me, make no mistake, but as the saying goes, change is always hard.  There are many happenings on the home front as well.  Quinn is getting adjusted to his new schedule, Wyatt and Zoe are teething and growing and doing all the things they are supposed to be doing... except sleeping.  As a family we are trying to get a rhythm going again with my schedule in relation to everyone else.  It's tricky. Throw in doctors appointments and my new hobby of restorative dentistry and it's good luck trying to find time to meet up with anyone for coffee or a phone call that isn't between 2 and 5 am.  We also have some construction efforts happening, including our ongoing fence saga (don't ask!) and an overhaul of our electrical panel coming up in the next week or so.  With all the cash flowing out the door, I'm trying to pick up overtime where I can. Busy, busy. Buzz, buzz, buzz.

I'm not kidding about the dentist either.  I have appointments lined up from now until next Christmas.  One of the grosser parts about being pregnant with twins was how sick I was.  I threw up several times a day for 4 or so months.  Then it decreased to once a day or so for the rest of the pregnancy.  The constant infusion of Coca Cola (once I figured out I could drink it again) after the babies were born did not help either.  Essentially, I now have the teeth of a bulimic, at least on the top.  It's a little embarrassing and a whole lot upsetting, actually, since I used to have a nice smile.  It will be again, it will just take a lot of work.  I have a fabulous dentist, a great endodentist and a periodentist that will all take a crack fixing things.  At some point, when I feel like smiling again, it will be beautiful.

Yesterday things hit critical mass for me.  As I am going to be doing the 31 for 21 again this year, I thought I'd be proactive and at least do a little of the legwork first.  Not to wreck any surprises, but I started researching again for another installment (or two) of my increasingly inaccurately named "A Brief History of Down syndrome".  Not to ruin anything further, but it is a topic that I have been considering for some time (since the last installment, actually) and this one in particular is a difficult one for me to write.  Through Friday night and Saturday, all the while struggling with dates and reading reams of historical accounts to make sure my quotes were accurate, the words started to flow.  As of lunchtime Sunday, I'd say I had over half the article done, annotated and linked appropriately.  You'll notice I said had, as with a few key strokes, the whole thing went away.

I have no idea what happened.  Blogger has changed it's format and it should have been auto saving, yet for a very long time, it obviously had been not.   I was left with a quote, my intro paragraph and half a timeline.  Insert Rage Comic guy here.

I don't have any place in this house that I can consider my own.  I share everything with at least one other person and now that I am no longer in charge of running this household, none of it feels like mine.  I have been joking for a couple of days with a few friends that if things did not improve, I was going to build a fort in my closet and just hole up in there with my laptop and write.  Comfy cushions, a glass of wine, some fatty snax, maybe even some brie, definitely a password... the list grew and grew as we riffed on my building anxiety.  It's sad in a way, that my idea of heaven now is a quiet corner where I can relax, be creative and eat and drink something that someone else isn't trying to at the same time.   As kooky as this sounds (and trust me, as a mental health professional, I KNOW how it sounds), after I lost my article, I did just that.

I went into my closet and built a fort.

Ok, as far as forts go, it was not all that awesome, but it was my fort.  The babies were down for a nap, Sean and Quinn had gone to the grocery store to get a few things and I sat down in front of my laptop, on a pile of pillows, with a small bottle of wine (which remained unopened, oddly enough).  I had just eaten lunch, so no fatty snax were required, however I did have a plan to fortify my reserves later if it came down to it.  Surrounded by shoes that no longer fit and clothes hanging on three sides, I was ready to rewrite what had been lost.

I had nuthin'.

I remember vaguely the order of the information, the info itself, how it looked, where the pictures went, but I was just too angry and exhausted.  I stared at Mr. Blinky (the cursor) for what seemed like forever and gave up.  I curled up and had a nap.  I napped on the floor of my closet, in front of my laptop.

A short time later, Zoe awoke screaming.  I'm not sure if she had a nightmare or what, but in the few seconds it took me to get there, she had stood up and was shaking, her eyes wide with fear.  Wyatt managed to not wake up (he is used to his loud sister), but I scooped her, her tookie (soother) and her bunny up and snuggled with her on the futon.  She fell asleep on my chest a few minutes later, but my efforts to put her back into her crib failed miserably.  Everything was going quite well until she rolled over and smacked her knee on the edge of the crib and awoke howling once more. 

I carried her into our room and we snuggled under the comforter.  She was restless at first, but did eventually go to sleep.  I was wide awake at this point and just lay there, watching my daughter sleep.  Occasionally I would brush a stray hair from her face or smooth down her damp curls.   What I am going to say next is going to sound trite to many people, but I think a few of you will understand.  Looking into her precious tiny face, it all made sense.  All of it.  As I listened to her slightly snotty breathing, the bees went away and left in their wake a state of calm.  I don't know what it says about me, about my kids or what, but they always have the ability to make me focus.  I quietly slipped out from under the covers as to not disturb her and sat down at the laptop to write.  I was only there a few minutes when I heard her chatter-y call out "Adada deeba dada?"  I leaned forward a bit so that she could see me and after "Aaaahaaaaa!" she carefully climbed down and toddled over to where I was sitting.  Her hair was all tousled and she dragged her bunny with her and I had to let her in the fort, password or not.  She looked around a bit, chattering all the while as she took in her rather unusual surroundings.  Finally, she plunked herself down on my lap and I loaded up some Sesame street videos to pass the time before Wyatt woke up.

We sat in my fort, she and I... and watched Feist sing about counting to four and Adam Sandler sing about Elmo.   As much as I hate the little red bugger, Zoe and I bopped along to Adam and his guitar.  It was halfway during that video that she smiled and looked up at me with complete delight.  She grabbed my hands and we clapped along and somewhere in there I knew the bees were gone for good... or at least until the next major crisis.  It's that look of wonderment, that simple contentment that the kids have.  You show them something small and they wring every last bit of happy out of it.  Simple pleasures, simple things... my coping had failed temporarily and these things had eluded me.  A little bit of beauty, of calm, of relaxation, of sleep, quiet and wonderment and suddenly all the things that had been plaguing me for weeks were gone.  We giggled and I sang along to the songs until the spell was broken somewhere around the sixth video when we heard Wyatt call out and Zoe toddled off to find her brother.

I came back into my 'fort' one more time, just to write this.  I needed to sit in the space to recapture exactly what it was I was feeling, what I was experiencing.  During the course of my writing this passage, I've stopped a few times and looked around.  Yes, this isn't a place that I would want to spend all my time, that is for sure.  However, it is big enough, it already has a desk in it and it would suffice as an impromptu office now and again if need be.  For now however, I picked up the blankets and the pillows and the still unopened wine and went downstairs for dinner with my crazy noisy family.

I wouldn't recommend hiding in your closet, literally or figuratively, to anyone.  However, I am of the mind that we all need a little corner for ourselves, in which to be ourselves, whatever or whoever that is.  Call it an office, a den, a 'man cave', a boudoir... even a fort if need be. Just make it of you, for you.  No matter how strong or full of coping skills we think we are, we aren't.  I always tell my patients that everyone is one major life event away from being in their shoes.  They all agree.  They all thought they could keep it together too.

It's not a contest, but I acknowledge freely that I have a lot on my plate.  I may have completely lost it, but I don't think so.  One afternoon of fort building was enough silliness to last me for a while.  The ancients believed in fighting evil with evil;  I believe in fighting insanity with more insanity sometimes.  To quote Major Sidney Freedman from M*A*S*H; "Ladies and gentleman, take my advice.  Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."  Essentially, life is too short and you have to have a little fun sometimes.  Building a fort and watching Sesame Street with my daughter may not keep the bees away for good but it certainly smoked them out and calmed them down a bit.  

And that is that... in a nut-shellmo.  :)

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