Monday, April 26, 2010

And Back Down Again

(Wherein I expose some of the fetid thoughts in my brain. Consider yourself warned.)

Were you ever told that if you made a silly face, it would stay that way? I wonder if emotions might function in a similar manner.

I have sought to downplay my birthday since I was a child. My birthday was frequently a disappointment to me. Whether that disappointment is justified or not is beside the point I am trying to make. If I was disappointed, it is no doubt because my expectations surpassed the capacity of my parents or whoever is around me to make it whatever it was I secretly wanted. I think I am doomed to this worst of both worlds - not wanting to make it a *thing* and being disappointed that something about it sucked (and suckage seems like an inevitability).

Yesterday was my birthday. Saturday night, the adults went out for a swanky dinner and I had the best meal of my life. It was a long time coming. I am really trying to hold onto that. Really, I am. But this year, what I wanted was a peaceful, pleasant birthday.

As for the actual day ... let's just say that the cake went uneaten and I went to bed at 8 p.m. The kids were uncooperative and D was sick so there was a lot of refereeing and lots of redirection and lots of talking in a slow, deliberate and stern tone of voice. "Look me in the eye. Do    You   Understand?" And I may have torn up the over-sized birthday card from my coworkers out of frustration when the hellions, er, kids, were fighting over it while I was trying to prepare dinner. Because by then, I. was. done. and counting down to bedtime.

But you know, the truth is that my birthday came downstream of some news with which I am struggling. My kids were probably acting out because they always seem to do so when I am stressed and sad and have little capacity for shenanigans. And too, I overreact and see profound implications in a cup of carelessly spilled milk, like I am reading the proteins for further signs of irreversible disaster. He pees on the toilet seat! A future sociopath! Because I know what we know -- that everything may not, in fact, be alright. May never be alright. With apologies to Leibniz-by-way-of-Voltaire, we do not live in the best of all possible worlds.

My son was diagnosed with AD.HD a few days ago and I am just in that place where I have to integrate this knowledge and I wish I could say I am bouncing right back, but I am not. Intellectually, I know that this diagnosis does not change the fact of who my son is, and in fact, is a positive development in that we will take what are hopefully the right steps to help him. He will finally and as expeditiously as possible get what he needs. But...
This is heaped on top of a  pre-existing  anxiety condition -- his and mine -- which confounds us and complicates him. Now I can no longer hope that his behavior is normal or a phase or even fallout from my long hospitalization and Eva's death. I can't pretend that the weekly therapy and sticker charts and activities and positive reinforcement and all the accommodations we have already made to our lives to fit his needs are enough. It is time to pay the piper. It's time for a formal plan with his school and for adding a psychiatrist to our growing network of support and [gasp] for the possibility of medication if worse comes to worse. It's time to face one of my greatest fears, that things will go horribly wrong for my remaining children.

So, yesterday I felt beleaguered by their inattention and poor choices. Being an incorrigible brooder, I read into my daughter's defiance and decided that she's probably got the dreaded "it," too. I see hopes dashed and potential squandered. I am, in short, totally wigging out.

But writing helps. Today is my day for wigging. Tomorrow, we start making appointments.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Out of [My] Sight, Out of [Her] Mind

This is not a post about separation anxiety, although we have had some of that lately, especially at night.

No, this is a post about my daughter who is coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs! She is a charmer, a delight, a curly-headed clown who can cross her eyes at will. She's a committed thumbsucker (and I thought binkies were bad!) and weirder still, she likes to play with her navel. When she's doing both, we call it "double dipping." She has the laugh of a diabolical genius. She may be a diabolical genius.

She breaks my heart every time I look deeply into her eyes of improbable, uncategorizable color. I feel this incomprehensible, indescribable tangle of sorrow and joy that there is probably a word for in another, more emotional language than ours. I swell. I celebrate and mourn for who she is and for the possibilities lost for who she represents. Shared DNA. Shared amnion. But not the life they should be sharing still and beyond.

In utero, she was sedate and impassive, the buddha of the womb. Eva was the tiny wild woman -- twin-climbing, kicking, administering "noogies," practicing rope tricks with her umbilical cord. But Twin A was named for her demeanor at the time, my beautiful, gentle baby. She was meant to be the easy baby my mother promised (eh... not so much, actually).

She is not so gentle anymore. Even (perhaps, especially) in her role as little sister, she gives as good as she gets.  I am guessing that this might be part of Eva's legacy. Eva means "giver of life." Okay... but don't go too far with that. I just mean that Eva might have left some of her bad-assedness behind, not that she fulfilled her purpose or anything, 'k? I'm just saying, I am not there yet. And maybe, like the mothers of intact twins on the momo message boards say, they just switch up their personalities. It is probably that simple.

So, last night, we were eating chocolate cake. Cuz screw it. We like chocolate cake and sometimes that is reason enough. And yes, I am having to wear my fat clothes today...thank you for noticing.  This child asked me for some of my frosting. Friends, I never thought I would utter these words under any circumstances that did not involve the threat of bodily harm, but I gave her some of my frosting and damned if that isn't pure love. She looked up at me,  having just smeared herself silly with chocolate buttercream and breathlessly said, "I lufff you, Mommy."

She has stripped me of all my defenses.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exercising Diplomacy

A few weeks ago, I acquired via Craigs.list what is currently my prized possession, an Adams Trail-a-Bike, for a mere $70. Making the deal sweeter still was the fact that I was buying it from Bikes for the World. A few days later, the weather was right to go for a spin and my son, who does not ride a two-wheeler independently yet, did very well. The trail-a-bike has given him confidence, improved his balance, and has made it possible for us to go on longer rides than we could otherwise accomplish -- 8 miles or so before the complaints become deafening. I feel better because I can get some exercise with my son while our daughter naps and at the same time, D can get his run in on the treadmill. It is also a way for our active boy to stay out of trouble and for us to wear him out in order to try to keep him out of trouble (a post, or a book, for another day)!

On our ride this past Saturday, my son made an observation from his perch. You see, he likes to talk during our rides. Apparently, (and unlike me) he has the breath to do so, probably because he's not pedaling. Come to think of it, that might be the cause of the bemused grins I get from other adults while we ride (and here I thought we were somehow charming). I have, in fact, caught him with his head down on the handlebars, resting. Anyway.
He noticed, he [loudly] informed me, "that some adults have large butts."
"Ohhh?" I asked. "Like whom? Whose butts, pray tell, have you been observing lately?" The boy is sitting right behind me.
He starts.
Abrupt stop. Even while we ride, I can practically hear the gears in his head grinding laboriously, trying to divine the correct response. He chooses to be prudent.
"Like Dad. He has a big butt and it is hairy, so that means that when I am big, I will have a big, hairy butt too."
Ever the diplomat.
For the record, D's butt is not big. Ehem.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

This is the Day. Let us Rejoice.

[Regarding the title: What can I say? I did my stint in Catholic school.]
Sometimes peace seems as attainable as my goal weight, which is to say (need I say it?) not very. But there are times -- and I don't know it's coming until it's upon me -- that my chest is lighter and more open. My breath is a little fuller and deeper. There it is for a fleeting moment -- the feeling that all  90% is right with the world. 90% is my maximum capacity for joy and rightness, but what I've lost in joy, I have more than recovered in other capacities, which is a paradox of loss, but one that has taken me 3 years to understand.  90% is as good as it gets, but it is more than welcome when it arrives. I am always surprised to feel "rightness," but I didn't chase it off this time. Instead, I let D drive the car. I let the kids eat as many Munchkins as they could stuff into their faces. I  looked up through the moon roof and smiled back to the tree limbs that swayed at me in greeting.
We spent Eva's day in the mountains, closer to the sky and to her. In quiet. In the muted browns of the woods before Spring arrives at that elevation. We saw Red Buds throughout the day. Eva's tree is a Red Bud. Seeing so many of them, those violet buds set to unfurl... sigh... I want to imbue that experience with some forced spirituality and meaning. But we picked a native tree quite deliberately, so it is no wonder that we would find this tree in our native land. And anyway, it's not necessary. It is good enough that we were all together. It is better still that everyone was peaceful. It was enough.

Having performed my rituals of love and memory, I was and for now remain, at peace. Now, I just need to hit the gym.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Eva's Day

I want to mark this day in some way. I want to parent her, so these rituals are a proxy for holding her, raising her. I had wanted to have this finished last year, but couldn't. I fell to pieces each time I tried. This year, I could face this project and finally finish it, though seeing the picture of my husband reading Goodnight Moon to Eva just about guts me.