Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Disconnected

As I sat in my therapists office Monday the only way I could describe the way I'm feeling is disconnected.

I haven't felt like writing.

I have stopped texting with friends.  Two friends who I've had an ongoing group chat have gotten kind of annoying about my absence which is only making me want to ignore them more.

I've been trying really hard to focus on the kids and make sure they don't notice the difference.  Not sure how successful I've been.

We went to the beach with K's family and for multiple reasons I spent the entire week fighting overwhelming feelings of anxiety and annoyance.  I woke up most mornings just wanting to go home.  Which I did at the last minute Friday night and, as I drove off island facing a late night of driving, it was the best I'd felt all week.

I feel disconnected from K.  That makes me unbelievably sad.

I don't feel like myself.

As we tried to troubleshoot why I'm feeling this way, the only thing I could pinpoint was that I am unbelievably tired emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

I was thinking this morning that when we adopted the girls I didn't take any time off.  I continued to work.  I kept up with all the kids activities.  My mom duties around the house were the same.  Only now we added two traumatized children (one with special needs).  This is in stark contract to the 3-4 months I took off for all of the boys' births.

As I tried to establish the new normal for our family, I was determined to move forward without skipping a beat.  I've definitely documented in this space how hard that has been.

I'm sensing a new shift in our family too.  D especially is sliding into puberty and getting more disgruntled by the girls.  Even A is starting to verbalize his frustration with E and M and how they are so disruptive to our family dynamic. E being home this summer has not been easy. Lately there has been renewed talk about dying and the little girls and how the decision came about.  It's hard to navigate.  It's part of the parenting gig that is especially draining for me.  Probably because it triggers my own grief and trauma.

Problem is that now after 5 years of this most people think that we are all totally adjusted and it's a breeze now.  I get kids to activities, dinners are made, parties thrown, work done (mostly), appointments are made, school stuff organized, hugs given, and somewhere in all of that I've gotten lost.  I've lost weight and nobody seems to notice.  I get shingles and was told by everyone I need to slow down and take care of myself. How?  There is nobody to pick up the slack.  I need to work for our family financially.  I love how active our kids are and how many cool interests they have, and that requires a lot of time and effort.

Not sure how to get back to feeling better this time.  My therapist and I talked about figuring out some strategies when we meet next (taking the kids to AZ next week so it will be a few weeks till we meet).  Some things have brought me some measure of joy...the spectacular World Cup win by the US women (I'm friends with the coach and can't wait to see her at a wedding in two weeks), watching A skate awesome, laughter between the kids at dinner time, cuddles with L, and escaping with my book for a few minutes at night.  None of these things, though, have squashed the feelings of being overwhelmed.  Sad.  Alone.  Worried.

I'm not sure why I had the urge to write tonight.  A first step to getting a grip on things and feeling better?  Not sure, but hoping it helps.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Day

Monday, 11:45pm.  Fall asleep while reading good book after long day of solo duty while K is in Pittsburgh for charity golf event with his dad and brothers.

Tuesday, 1:05am.  Wake up to K coming home from trip.

1:06-3:40am. Toss and turn trying to get back to sleep while mind races about all the things we have going on this week.  Try to remember if I pulled out uniform socks for L.  Make mental note that I have to remember to pick up M's prescription and have it filled.  Think about how I'm going to find time to make dinner tomorrow. Brainstorm how I'm going to get D to soccer practice and L to baseball warm-ups at two different fields at basically the same time.  Finally fall asleep and realize what time it is because I hear E get up to go swimming.

6:34am. Alarm goes off.  Wake up A and M.  Go downstairs and make them breakfast. 

6:45am.  Wake D up and remind him that his dad is bringing them to school so he needs to not take a 45 minute shower since I won't be there to remind him to get out.  Walk downstairs with L who was already awake and talking to himself in his bed.  Make breakfast for L and D and make sure lunches and snack for L are in their backpacks. Remind L that Daddy is bringing them to school and to make sure that if Daddy isn't down by the time the Kratt Brothers is on tv to go upstairs and wake him up.

7:00am. Remind K that he's bringing the little boys to school because I have to do the big guys.

7:05am. Drive big kids to school for the first day of exams. Reassure M that she is going to do fine on her exam and listen to A plan for all of the skating and herping he wants to do next week once school is done.

7:40am.  Return home and see that K and the boys haven't left yet.  As I pull into the garage see D sprinting out to his dad's car with a notebook in  his hand (he is notorious for having to run back in to grab something).  Hope they make it to school on time.

7:45am.  Decide that if I'm to survive the day I better go back to bed and catch a few winks.

8:45am. Wake up and make a cup of coffee and two frozen waffles for breakfast.  Watch a few minutes of morning tv while I eat and at the same time check emails both personal and work.

9:15-10:45am.  Do a bunch of random yet pressing things.  Answer some work emails.  Do some actual work.  Answer texts about M's soccer team with 3 different people including the coach (tryout time is never fun). Check with pediatrician and make sure M's prescription is ready (her ADHD med is controlled so I have to pick up paper prescriptions).  Talk with little sister S about termites in her house (ick).

10:45am. Shower and figure out how D and L are going to get to their sports later. 

11:00am. Drive to pediatrician and pick up prescription. 

11:10am. Drive to store to fill it and pick up a few things I forgot to get the day before, including our contribution to the 8th grade graduation party this week.  While in the store, field email questions from K about possible summer basketball for D.

11:40am. Pick up A and M from school.  Listen to them talk about how hard and easy their tests were.  Celebrate with M that algebra is finally over.

Noon.  Get home.  Call Coach Uncle DG (C's husband) and arrange for me to drop him off at their house on the way to D's practice so L will be at early baseball warm-ups on time.  Listen to DG talk about little league drama. Make lunch and try to look at FB for a few minutes to zone out.

12:30-3:30pm.  Attempt to get work done with A, M and E constantly interrupting me about relatively trivial matters.  During this time also field texts and phone calls from K, S and C about various things including how much termites suck.

3:30pm. Little boys arrive home from school.  Make sure L and D both have the appropriate uniforms for the rest of their day.  Make chicken fajitas and all the fixings while simultaneously making sure D and L get dressed, eat and have full water bottles.

4:05pm. Go upstairs and give M detailed instructions about when she'll be picked up for soccer practice and logistics for after practice to walk over to baseball game (thank God they are at relatively the same time and same park).  Repeat myself 3 times to make sure she understands and heard me.

4:15pm. Leave home with all equipment (soccer and baseball) in the car.

4:30pm. Drop L off at cousins' to catch ride to game.

4:50pm. Drop D off at his practice.  Text friend who is bringing him home and confirm that she is in fact grabbing him for us.  Thank her profusely.

5:30ish pm.  Arrive at baseball game and set up in bleachers hoping to relax for a few minutes.  Instead have ear talked off by obnoxious baseball dad whose kid is much older than L and not very nice to him.  Nod to annoying dad and try to be nice.

6:35pm.  Game starts 35 minutes late because umps don't show up.  L hits a triple as lead off hitter and scores a run.  Hoping this bodes well for the evening.

6:40pm. Field texts from kind friend picking up D who doesn't see him.  Text and call a bunch of moms who should be at the field to tell D where she is.  Offer friend up one of my kidneys for offering to pick D up and have to sit around for him when he doesn't get off the field on time.

6:45-8:45pm.  Watch L's baseball team win the semifinal game against the Miami Hurricanes only to have L throw two massive temper tantrums after he had one of his hits caught and struck out for his next at bat.  Get down from bleachers 3 times to walk to the dugout to tell my 8 year old that there is no crying (unless you are legitimately hurt) or bat slamming in baseball.

8:45pm. Drive home with tired and grumpy L who completely forgot about his triple and scored run and only focused on how so and so got a game ball for the third time and he never gets one even though he makes tons of great hits, blah, blah, blah. 

9pm. Get home and help L get something to eat, shower and get to bed.  Realize there is nothing left from dinner for me to eat. During these activities ask L if this bad attitude is the kind of boy he wants to be.  Listen to 8 year old tell me yes this is exactly the boy he wants to be and he's never going to change all the while scowling at me.

9:20pm Finally get L in bed and wrestle a few smiles out of him.  Promise him tomorrow will be a better day.  Sit on his bed for a few minutes and rub his back, kissing his head and telling him how much I love him even when he isn't the best of sports.

9:25. Talk a few minutes with A about the next day plans and tell him about the baseball game.  Go back into little boys' room and convince D to get to bed and field more questions about baseball game.

9:40pm.  Finally go downstairs with all kids relatively settled to clean up dinner dishes.

10:00pm. Grab a diet coke, box of vanilla wafers and my laptop and attempt to record my day on the blog despite the fact that I still have lunches to make and laundry to fold.

Woven throughout the day are feelings of stress, sadness, worry, loneliness, and frustration.

And this was a relatively easy day.

Looks like tomorrow is much more of the same.  Lovely.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Be Still

Be still,
Close your eyes,
Soon enough you'll be on your own,
Steady and straight,
And if they drag you through the mud,
It doesn't change what's in your blood,
(Over chains)
Over chains,
When they knock you down,


Don't break character,
You've got a lot of heart,
Is this real or just a dream,
Be still,
Be still,
Be still,
Be still,


Over rock and chain,
Over sunset plain,
Over trap and snare,
When you're in too deep,
In your wildness dream,
In your made up schemes,
When they knock you down,
When they knock you down,


Don't break character,
You've got so much heart,
Is this real or just a dream.
Oh rise up like the sun and labor till the work is done,
Rise up like the sun and labor till the work is,
Rise up like the sun and labor till the work is done.
-Be Still, The Killers
 
I'm sitting in my cubicle at work.  This song just came on.  Tears building in my eyes.  I feel so lost and tired and sad and sick of all the responsibility on my shoulders.
 
People ask me all the time how I am.
 
"Fine," I say.  Sometimes with a fake smile.  Most of the times I avoid eye contract to keep them from seeing the lies behind the words.
 
I've been having stomach issues the last month.  While deep down I think it's stress, I finally went to the doctor last week.  The same doctor who prescribed me with antidepressants two years ago.  I tried to describe how I've been feeling without crying as she looked at me with such sympathetic eyes it made me want to collapse into tears.  I said multiple times that I'm not very good at self care.  I felt more and more embarrassed about why I was there and not because of the symptoms. As we discussed the lovely topic of diarrhea, she finally asked, "How are the kids?"
 
I explained how they are all fine, great in fact.  Everyone is healthy and happy.  Doing all that they are supposed to be doing.  Her whole demeanor changed after that.  It was like the litmus test for how well I'm doing is based on the kids.  "Oh well that's good!" was her response. I felt minimized.  Silly for complaining when I've got such great kids who are thriving.
 
I started thinking about the book "The Giving Tree."  This book always makes me cry.  The tree keeps giving and giving till there is nothing left. A stump.  A stump that the boy sits on in the end. The problem is that I don't want to be a stump.  I don't keep on giving and giving happily and with joy like the tree in the story.  I'm grumpy.  I get short with the kids and my husband irrationally. My mind races in the middle of the night worried about what I'm not doing.  I get shingles.  I have an upset stomach for over a month. 
 
Thinking about my inability to handle all that I have been given in this life makes me feel really sad.  Alone.  Pathetic.
 
Not sure where I'm going with this post other than to acknowledge to myself that things aren't fine. 
 
I'm trying to be still. 
 
Find joy. 
 
It's just hard right now for some reason. 
 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Back to Our Reguarly Scheduled Program

Since we last spoke L turned 8.  He did it in spectacular fashion with a "science" party where we made slime, erupted a volcano (multiple times), did a physics project and had a guest appearance by our resident herpetologist and his crested gecko.  He said the next day that it was such a good day he almost didn't believe it really happened...then he proceeded to walk into the bathroom and declare it was "deuce o'clock."

 
He is funny.

 
He is kind.

 
He loves life and makes it joyful for all those around him.
 
 

The other four are doing fine.  E was home for both spring break and Easter weekend and we had a nice time. We'll see how the summer goes, but I'm hopeful her coming home won't be too disruptive.

A is now running track and doing pretty well for a freshman.  He hasn't hit his growth spurt yet and is still holding his own against all the upper classmen.  He's having fun to boot and doing something for the school which is all we wanted.  This is probably his last year playing soccer. It's nice he has another avenue to get his athletic juices flowing in addition to his skateboarding.

M has a boyfriend.  He's a soccer playing friend of A's (he approves of the match).  He lives 30 minutes away and is very busy--a perfect scenario from my perspective.  School is still a struggle for her causing both academic and social anxiety.  I'm hoping each year of high school she figures things out a bit more.

D still keeps us on our toes with all his activities and tendency to procrastinate.  He and I went to Pittsburgh this weekend for a soccer game, stayed in the city and went to a Pirates game.  It was nice to be together and have some fun.  He continues to be a rock star in school which makes arguing with him about getting his work done all the more frustrating when the results of his methods are so good (something he likes to point out often).

I'm not sure why I haven't been writing.  I've had lots of stuff going on that I'm sure would benefit from some venting expressing via the keyboard.  We have been really busy.  I also think that my belief in myself as a "writer" ebbs and flows.  I'm not sure I ever really think of myself as a blogger per se, let alone a writer.  But...

...I still have a story to tell.  My story.  I plan to keep on telling it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow Day

Winter Storm Thor is currently blowing outside.  The snow is mounting at a brisk rate.

Kids are all playing/working quietly.  D just made chocolate chip cookies. I'm up in my room trying to work.  Distracted by the white flakes steadily falling outside and the 8th birthday party list being compiled next to me.  We're having a science themed party and will make slime, erupt a volcano, create a tornado in a bottle, build a marble run contraption and have a guest appearance by big brother's crested gecko.  The kid party will be followed two hours later by the family party and a taco bar request from the guest of honor.

Lots to do, but it's a fun kind of busy.  Still waiting on possible cancellation of soccer tournament this weekend for D which, if cancelled, simplifies life (and party prep) significantly and means he can play in his rescheduled play-off basketball game. 

E comes home tomorrow for spring break.  A very happy E who swam out of her head in the end of season championship meet (3 personal bests and 3 finals) and who is really enjoying school.  Everyone (except maybe her sister) is happy she's coming home.

Although we really haven't found a rhythm in terms of schedule since school started back up after winter break, having a day of hunkering down, chilling out, and just watching the snow fall is nice.

But....there always seems to be a but.

I've been feeling down lately.  A "is this really my life??" kind of down.  A wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall asleep kind of down. I think part of it is the weather and uncertain schedules with the kids.  I think part of it is stuff with K.  Stress never helps anything and my family continues to make things hard.  Part of it is also the cycle of grief that seems to taint my life now--loss of my sister, loss of what I thought our family was and its impact on our kids.  I worry I'll also be stuck on this loop forever and never really feel totally at peace with my life.

Is this really my life?  Is this it? Why can't I simply be happy with all the joy in my life and be content?  Are content and happy synonymous?

Today I'm gonna watch the snow.  Maybe take a nap.  Pretend to be working while letting my mind wander and make plans for birthday parties.  A day to slow down, and maybe not reflect too much on life and instead live in the present moment.

A moment of quiet.  Calm.  A perfect snow day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This is 13



D turned 13 yesterday.  We celebrated with his friends on Monday (no school) with pizza, tag games outside, ping pong and lots of Fifa on the wiiu.  He said it was the best party ever and didn't want it to end.

Yesterday we had another day off of school due to the snow and frigid temperatures.  Nothing like a snow day on your birthday.  I got up and grabbed him a bagel from Panera, made him chocolate chip cookies, got stuff for s'mores in the fireplace for after dinner (he doesn't like cake), and we went out to dinner as a family instead of eating the meatless dinner I had bought (Ash Wednesday).  After dinner, we gave him our presents which I thought were pretty good.  His big request was a North Face jacket.  Unfortunately the style he wants was no where to be found in local stores.  K and I both had gone out and gotten him two other options to choose from OR we told him we'd order the one he really wants online and it will be here in a few days.  For some reason, my normally chill dude, started spiralling out of control into a self-pity tornado that by 10:30pm I was getting texts from him upstairs that his "life was awful, nobody loves me and all everybody cares about is E and M!!"

First, I told (texted) him that his itouch was supposed to be downstairs, but we did love him and I thought we had given him a pretty good birthday including both family party and a friend party.  I calmly pointed out all the things I had done all day for him and gently told him he was being a bit silly.  After a few "whatevers" and "you don't understands," he apologized for being ungrateful and admitted he had had a good day and did like his presents.

He finally unloaded that he's really stressed out.  He listed all the things adding to the stress...school, science fair (happening at school today), sports (currently playing soccer and basketball at the same time), social pressures (his words), everybody in the family just cares about E and M (a pretty astute observation that I couldn't deny), and not having enough time to just chill.  The social part is really getting to him since he's "the only one without an instagram account or email" and he just got a girlfriends (as of 5 days) and he is still confused about what that really means.

Wow.  Just listening to him stressed me out.  I told him we'd talk about the instagram (ummm not going to happen but we can explain why).  I empathized with his workload and pointed out that basketball was almost over and it was something that he loved to do and was his choice.  We talked a bit about how he has really high standards for himself academically (which is good), but that we could work on ways to not make it so stressful.  Once I pointed out that he had spent the last 5 days doing NOTHING but chilling out, he started to hit a more even keel.  I also agreed to let him wear my jacket (the kind he wants) till his comes AND bring cookies to school today for the 7th grade to celebrate his birthday, both of which helped with the "nobody loves me" feelings.

I have to say this reaction kinda threw me for a loop.  I'm used to the drama with the girls, especially M.  A is such a level headed dude (with the sporadic meltdown) and he never really hit the "tween" or "teen" angst level.  D, on the other hand, is a very sensitive kid.  We know that.  I guess I wasn't ready for the teenager drama to hit on day one.

He seemed okay this morning, although pretty tired after staying up too late stressing.  We both actually had assumed a two hour delay which didn't come to fruition.  He walked confidently into school (in my jacket) with his science fair board and homemade weather station (his experiment was really cool and tapped into his love of all that is meteorology).  I ran to the store, purchased the cookies and dropped them off at school before heading to the office.  I've already bowed him out of basketball practice and the second half of soccer practice so he can go to the science fair awards tonight.  I hope he at least places in his category only because he takes things so seriously and is very competitive with his high achieving buddies.

I guess the best thing I can do for him is continue to remind him how much I love him and what a great kid he really is.  He is a sensitive person with his own feelings, but on the flip side he is a very empathetic kid for someone his age.  He is kind and patient with his cousins (those that live with him and those that don't).  He is polite to adults and ridiculously smart and funny.  He works hard at all that he does, especially his sports. I worry sometimes about how many deep things he's had to deal with at a young age.  I wince when people say all the kids will be better off in the long run with what they've had to handle.  While I am so proud of who he is and how he has dealt with this grief ridden life, I still wish it wasn't so.



I love this kid and always want him to remember this...and yes, I am wearing the above-mentioned North Face jacket in this picture...the fact that it fits him already is a post in itself about how they are getting soooo big!!  At least I have a few more years till L turns 13...until then "batten down the hatches!!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

15

M turns 15 today.

 
She is funny.
 
 
She is fun to be around.
 
 
She works hard to have a positive attitude and do her best despite all her life challenges.

 
She is very loved by her cousins (brothers).
 
We are having a pretty low key celebration tonight since they all have school and practices tonight.  Her big sister has asked us to facetime her when we open presents since this will be the first birthday in which E won't be there.
 
It's her 6th birthday without her parents.  I've been thinking of Jeanne throughout the day.  I had a good cry about an hour ago and it felt good.  I remember sitting in the hospital with her while she persevered through labor and I sat there with my belly swollen with A.  I remember how scared she was when the doctor said she had to have a c-section and I hugged her telling her everything was going to be okay.  It is still mind boggling to me that I'm raising that cute little baby now and regularly have to reassure her that everything IS going to be okay despite car accidents, ADHD and anxiety disorder.
 
 
It's strange that it's starting to feel like I can't imagine our life without her, while at the same time being disbelief that I am mothering her now.  Her mommy loved her so much.  I hope I'm doing right by both of them.