First Week Back

Imagine me taking a deep breath before writing this. Got that image? Good.

The first week back at work has been way tougher than I ever imagined it would be. I’m not sure how things conspired to make this so tough, but tough it is. Instead of the normal balance of two kids, two dogs, homeschool, and a job. I’m trying to balance all of those with an ongoing eye problem (I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I? More blog fodder, I guess), Peyton’s recurring nasty ear infection, and Sam BURNING herself on the power supply for my laptop. The only excuse for the last one is that she’s old and she sleeps like the dead. It’s the only thing that is shaped correctly, so it has to be how she did it and my only guess is that she laid down on it and then fell asleep. It clearly hurts like heck and we have no idea how many hair follicles were permanently destroyed by this little folly, but it requires twice a day medicine plus a cream in the evenings. So, more meds. Lovely.

School is actually going reasonably well for Ben. He is mostly willing to do his work and mostly willing to try even when he feels a little overwhelmed by the skills he’s learning. His handwriting is a little scary, but you can mostly figure out what he’s saying. We’re focused almost entirely on language arts right now (reading, writing, spelling, language development). We do science twice a week, but even that is stressful if there’s too much writing involved. He is getting better though and I’m proud of how far his handwriting has come since we started working on it.

But trying to balance all of that plus Katie, plus work? It’s getting a little frantic up in here. It never helps that after I’ve put a full day in with the kids, my husband will look at me and say, they seem to want some mom time tonight. Um, yeah. I’ll get right on that. So then I don’t even start work until 9p and work until 1 am to be awakened by my darling son at 7am. And we wonder why my fuse is already short.

Part of it is trying to get back into a rhythm. Now, one could argue (and I surely would) that while they’re engrossed in the movie that they’re watching, I should be doing some work rather than writing a blog post complaining about how overwhelmed I am. But the thing is if I don’t let off a little steam right now, I’m going to explode, so blogging wins in order to help me keep my sanity.

Deep breathing. That’s what I need to do. Deep breathing. How do you cope when it all gets to be too much? I really want to know.

Today is my birthday . . .

My son has a book that he adores The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli. It’s a great story about a little baby (gender undetermined) who is all excited about getting a box for his/her birthday. Inside the box is a puppy. It’s a nice, gentle story and makes birthdays, even not super exciting ones, seem good.

Today, however, is my real, actual birthday. Not that you would know this by anything that’s going on, but it is. And not only is it my birthday, it’s a milestone birthday. Today, I am 40. I am not upset by this or distressed or anything. I don’t feel like I’ve just crossed some imaginary line that means I will never be what I was or anything.

I had big plans for my birthday. After years of not taking my birthday very seriously, I decided that this year I was going to do what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do was go out with some of my friends, minus my children, then take the kids to Safari Nights at our zoo, and finally, go out to dinner with my husband — by ourselves.

Unfortunately, none of that is going to happen. The immediate reasons involve a health crisis for my mother-in-law which has put my husband in some very difficult situations in the last few days.

I’m not upset about it and I’m thankful that I didn’t let myself get too excited about the plan, but I’m honestly not sure how much more we can take as a family without cracking a bit.

I don’t really even have much else to say right now. Just that we’re very stressed and no part of this is easy. Every time we think we’re out of the woods, something else happens. It would be unbelievable if I heard someone telling the story of the last five days, and I just cannot believe that I’m living it.

Stress and Challenges

I find myself in a weird situation where there are things going on in our family that I would very much like to talk about, but I also feel like talking about them amounts to a “poor me” situation, which is not the experience that I look for here. I tend toward being something of a reticent/shy person (for all my willingness to talk endlessly about my dogs and my kids, there are things I don’t talk about and don’t share, though I likely will as time goes on.)

I’m very conscious of the fact that people abuse this medium and I don’t want to be mistaken for one of them. I feel so badly for the people who need and crave that level of attention, but, by the exact same token I know that people who need support, whose very existence depends on that support, can and do get it through the internet. It’s a double-edged sword, the internet. Really, it is.

So, here we’re undergoing a great deal of stress and it is showing in the parenting that we’re doing, the dog stewardship that we’re doing, and in the lack of some things that we’re doing.

On Twitter (I’m adjunctmom, if you’re looking), I made a comment about the new plagues being surgery on small child, ants, canine ear issues, and mouthy, stubborn 3 yo. So, to take those in my own sort of order:

Mouthy, stubborn 3 yo: this is not surprising. He’s my son. He’s P’s son. If he were neither mouthy nor stubborn, I would demand a DNA test. Seriously. He’s reacting to the stress around him and he’s doing things that he has never done before in an attempt to gain some of the attention that’s going in other directions at the moment. It’s true for both dogs and children, negative attention is better than no attention at all. We made a concerted effort this weekend and today to draw attention to the great things he’s doing and give him lots of support and praise. I think it’s working; we’ll see.

Canine ear issues: Peyt went to the vet on Friday. The good news is that her ears look 80% better than they did three weeks ago. The bad news is there’s 20% more still to go. Approximately three more weeks of ear meds twice a day and then a week off and THEN another trip to the vet to see if the ears have improved. Added to the ear issues, I had a quiet word with the vet explaining that when we bring Sam in (for her semi-annual exam) we need to make sure to discuss, IN FRONT OF BEN, that there are things that Dr. Chip just can’t fix. Fortunately, we have a great vet who both has kids and loves kids, so he knows what I’m getting at. He asked how she’s doing and if she’s slowing down. I confessed that she hasn’t slept on the bed in almost a month. Sam has slept on my bed every night since she was three years old. I was horrified to discover that her choosing not to sleep on the bed may indicate that she’s in pain. So, during Peyt’s week off, we’re doing a medication trial for Sam to see if twice a day pain meds would improve her situation or if it has little to no effect. She’s been up on the bed once in the last month and it was a struggle for her to get up. It worries me.

Ants: Wednesday of last week, P went into the closet to get a shirt for work. He started to put it on and realized that it was full of ants. Not fire ants, but not little sugar ants either. Those in-between ants that are both annoying and unpleasant. The contents of our closet are now spread across our bedroom, the living room, and the office. I can no longer see my desk. The closet has now been ant free for five days. This is promising. His plan, assuming things stay ant free today, is to move the stuff in the living room and office back into the closet, but not to completely refill it because we have plans for that closet that he would like to enact.

small child having surgery: when Katie had her four month well baby check, her pediatrician commented that her forehead seemed a little narrow to him, but he wasn’t concerned. When she went in for her six month well baby check not too long ago, her forehead had not changed it’s shape at all, as in it was still as narrow as it was before, there were obvious indentations that look like those grab thingies on large plastic containers (the spots cut into the plastic for you to pick up the awkward jug with) where her temples should be, and her eyes seem to be a little too close together. At this point, he was concerned. Concerned enough that he wanted us to make an appointment with a specialist for these issues.

We made the appointment, but were called shortly thereafter to move the appointment from the main office to the clinic where more of the team would be present. We were hoping that this would be a rule out appointment, but that was not to be. On Monday we found out that Katie has trigonocephaly. This is not life threatening and aside from causing lots of stress, is a relatively benign condition, though they’re concerned that she may have vision problems if we don’t take care of it. So, we’re going to deal with it. It feels too much like a gamble to wait and see when it’s much harder to correct when she’s older. I would rather gamble with surgery now than gamble with her development later. So, the last week has been a flurry of phone calls trying to set up appointments and organize things. We’re looking at surgery in the middle of September as they’d like to wait until she gains a bit more weight and, right now, there doesn’t seem to be any significant risk to her.

So we’re under stress. P and I deal with stress in different ways. He gets angry. I tend to eat, read, and play video games. I’m something of a Sims addict and now? They have Sims for the iPhone. I love it. Probably too much, but right now, I’m not going to worry about it. The thing is, we both need healthier methods of dealing with stress so that our son can learn better methods than the ones that we have. We’re working on it.

So, this blog may be hijacked for the next little while with discussions of doctor’s appointments, coping strategies, and general stressiness. To me, this is part of parenting in the 21st century.

Finally, I want to say that we’re so grateful to our pediatrician who caught this, to our friends who have immediately offered all kinds of support (from the shoulder to cry on [virtual and local] to offers to take Ben, the girls, or both), to our medical professional friends who have helped us better understand what we’re dealing with, to both of our places of work whose immediate responses were how can we help and what do you need rather than how will this affect us, and, finally, for the faith that will sustain us in the days to come. If we can remember to turn to rather than away, we’ll be okay.