So once more, we’ve had a really hectic couple of weeks. Mason started school (yay!), but for the first week and a half I had to drive him to and fro. Of course, this was insanely chaotic considering he’s in pre-school. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It was only kind of chaotic. The problem is, the school pick up lines in this town are INSANE. I mean seriously, where do all of these people come from?? There’s like five elementary schools in a 10 mile radius of us – and there are that many people picking up their kids in the afternoons at one school?
Yeesh! I guess the town really is growing.
So, since Mason’s in preschool his day starts at 11:30 (unless it’s early release Wednesday, in which case it’s 11:00. Speaking of, can someone PLEASE for the love of God tell me what the heck is the point of early release? Other than to make my life complicated because I forget it every single week? I legitimately don’t understand why my children get out of school an hour early every Wednesday.). His day ends at 2:05. Kaleb’s bus arrives at our house at 2:30. Mason’s school is a 10 minute drive from here – under good, hit every green light conditions. I don’t have that kind of luck. I hit every red light from here to that school every single day. Even when I take the back roads – which is way worse because those lights take forever to change. So, call it an even 20 minutes. Which gives me exactly five minutes to grab Mason, throw him in the car, and rush home to get Kaleb off the bus.
What this means is that I have to be in the front of the ridiculous parent pick up line.
Which means I have to arrive at his school no later than 1pm.
Yep. I have to get there an hour early in order to pick my kid up from school and have a chance at getting home before Kaleb’s bus. This is what I call INSANE. So, for a week and a half I dropped him off and went to hang out with my mom (who legit only lives 10 minutes from the school) for an hour before turning around and going to get the Mini Monster. Then we’d rush home and wait for Kaleb’s bus. Finally, Mason got a bus schedule. They pick him up here at 10:25 (even though the stupid sheet says 10:45) and drop him off at 2:25 (even though the stupid sheet says 2:38). That’s four whole hours all to myself! OMG I could do yoga! I could ride my bike!
I could sit on my couch and watch grown up tv while the sun is still up! I could eat ice cream in the middle of the day! I can shower and pee all by myself! Hell, I could dance around naked!
Okay, I won’t dance around naked. First, I don’t dance. And if I did, I certainly wouldn’t do it naked. I’d probably hurt myself – and how do you explain that to a paramedic?
But still. Maybe it sounds horrible of me to be doing happy dances because my little dude is going to school – but if that’s what you’re thinking…. just wait. Your day will come. Your kid will get on that bus, and after the initial “I’m going to miss him so much, I hope he’s okay, what will he do without me, what will I do without him” moment, you will walk back into your house, and it’ll hit you. That moment of I’m alone! I’m really truly alone! will come. And I’m willing to bet you consider dancing around naked too.
Anyway, Mason finally started school. And considering I was able to do yoga in my living room uninterrupted for the first time EVER, I’m going to go ahead and say this is awesome!
Truthfully, over the last few months, life has felt completely non-stop. I haven’t been sleeping, the kids haven’t been sleeping. Drama and meltdowns everywhere. This responsibility and that obligation. I can literally count on one hand how many times in the last three months I’ve even attempted to apply makeup. Wedding plans (who knew there was SO much crap to think of?!), this kid to that doctor, that kid to that therapist. IEP meeting for this one, evaluations for that one. I’d already put my plans to start my own non profit on hold for lack of time. What it all comes down to is that I was overwhelmed.
For a while I muddled through – because I couldn’t find a reason to be overwhelmed. This was my life. These things have always been here, and odds are they’re going to get a lot worse before they get better. The meltdowns will get bigger, the responsibilities will only get heavier… so why was I all of a sudden drowning in the things I’ve come to think of as life’s constants? Then one day it hit me – like the proverbial ton of bricks. Where the hell was I in all of this? I was completely lost in the rush of everything and everyone else. In doing so my family was suffering. I was miserable. My relationship was suffering because I wasn’t put the time toward it I needed to. My kids suffered because mommy was tired and cranky. Even the dog was suffering.
When was the last time I did something for me? I couldn’t remember. I was so busy running around like a lunatic with all the other crap I’d basically neglected all but my most basic needs. Clearly, something had to give. So, I swallowed my pride (which I was frankly surprised to find I had so much of) and, despite my extreme hesitancy to do so, I backed out of some pretty big obligations. In truth, I was terrified to do that. I put my name on this. People are counting on me. This is my reputation.
But what’s a reputation when the whole world is crumbling around your ears?
I’ll tell ya what it’s worth. Absolutely jack s**t.
I knew there was probably going to be some fall out – I probably put a really good friendship in jeopardy, and I’m feeling the sting of it. But it was time to do something for myself. So what did I do?
I planted a freaking garden.
Yes. You read right. Me – Captain Black Thumb planted a garden. I’d wanted to do it for years. I’ve been muttering and complaining about having to buy fresh herbs at outrageous prices only to have them go to waste because I only needed one sprig for years. So, I planted a garden. And it’s doing AMAZING. As I write this, there’s a chicken in the oven full of my very own thyme and parsley. I put some more focus on my relationship and am glad every day I did. I put some more focus on my kids – and I’m still glad every day when they get on the bus! But more than that, I made myself a goal. It’s an outrageous and probably impossible goal, but I’m cooking my way toward it one day at a time. And no, I’m not saying what it is until it becomes a bit more attainable!
So, I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing all this now. I guess a part of me is upset because I think I really did put a big kink in a friendship that meant a lot to me. And I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to fix it one of these days. Another part of me is proud (there it is again) – because I finally took the best piece of advice ever given to me when Kaleb was born: take time for myself.
Instead of running around at night and trying to catch up on work I couldn’t do during the day, I’m doing the work during the day, instead of a million other things. And at night? I’m sitting on the porch, listening to Frank Sinatra and Etta James and reading any book I please for as long as I please. I’m happier. I’m happier at the butt-crack of dawn when I get up to get Kaleb on the bus. I’m happier in the afternoon when I get both boys off their respective busses. I’m happier after a failure of an IEP meeting. I’m happier when I’m pulling the kids apart while they try to rip each other’s throats out. I’m happier watching the same episodes of Little Einsteins over and over again. I’m happier when my soon-to-be husband is home. I’m happier.
So, sure I can’t be super mom. I can’t chair walks and be on the PTA board, and start a non-profit, and run all over hades and back for everyone who asks anything of me. But what I can do is raise two healthy, happy boys on the spectrum. I can have a healthy(er) relationship with the love of my life while I plan our wedding. I can do a better job of getting and staying in touch with the friends and family who have had my back since day one. I can spend time in my garden and read books. I can go to pumpkin festivals and blues festivals and enjoy my life. Because as important as all the other stuff is – my family is the reason I was doing it in the first place. So why would I do it if it was making my family suffer?
This actually wasn’t as difficult to write as I thought it would be – because I really mean it. To all of you who told me it was important to take care of me – I digress. You were right, I was wrong. And I’ve never been happier to discover how wrong I was.
To all of you out there worn down, weary, and worried about the same crap – all I have to say is…
Who is going to take care of everyone else if you’re locked in a padded cell after holding yourself to this ridiculous standard of parenting? Being involved doesn’t mean doing everything that walks across your path. It means being sane and stable and happy enough to do the fun stuff.
I’ve got to go pull my (hopefully) delish chicken out of the oven so I can feed my kids and get them off to bed. Then I’m going to go watch something asinine on television with my love and I’m going to enjoy every second of it.
I hope you have as good a night as I’m going to.