Friday, April 3, 2009

It's...Mine...Isn't it?

So I'm going to Dallas. I found a "cheap" (translate under $400) ticket to Dallas/Fort Worth airport in April, and I'm going. I feel burnt out and unhappy and I need to recharge. I've said that in earlier posts. I've also said that I absolutely hate it when someone whines about a problem but doesn't do anything about it. So I'm going, hopefully to do something about this problem.

I'm unhappy. Don't really understand why, but I am. I'm not doing a good job as a mother and a wife. I need to recharge, to get some perspective. To do something to refresh the way I look at my life.

Lest you worry, constant reader (ha! who am I kidding? no one reads this blather anyway), I have discussed this trip with Steve and he says he is ok with this. He will miss me he says, but he wants me to be happy. If this trip will help to do that, he is for it.

There's the question...will this help me to be happy? I sure hope so. I don't want to take the trip, come back, and feel the exact same way as when I left, but just have the ticket to pay off on my credit card. I think part of the problem is that I don't exactly know why I am unhappy. I just am. I'm thinking that "getting away from it all," will help me to gain some perspective, some rest, and to come back to New England with a new world view of things. If it doesn't, I don't know what I will do.

But when I think of that, my next thought is, nothing you are doing now is working, is it? I can't just do nothing. I'm sinking into despair and I need to claw my way out. I love my husband and family and I owe them a mother and wife that isn't feeling depressed, overwhelmed and sad all the time. Steve (my husband) is doing his best to provide his family with a good life. I almost feel as if being unhappy is being a jerk to him. I don't want all his hard work to feel like a waste of time. I don't want him to feel that its futile to try to make things work. I think that's where we are headed unfortunately. I don't want him to feel that way, but I can't pretend I am happy either.

I have tried to talk to friends. They help some, but the deep sadness never really goes away. They advise reading the Bible, going to counselors, reading self-help books, writing. I have done these things. They haven't helped. I have prayed, I have yelled, I have tried to build exercise programs, go on "girls nights out," and had a glass of wine or two to relax. It hasn't helped. I have tried to turn the focus away from myself...volunteering, throwing myself into raising my kids, getting a part time job...and yet that sadness is always sitting there, like a stone.

There are those of you who have recommended medication. I've tried that too. It works somewhat...but there are always issues with medication. Side effects. I don't need to belabor those here, but suffice it to say that I think that screwing around with medications to help alleviate my depression played a part in landing me in the hospital last year. Enough said.

So why Dallas you ask? My sister lives there. There are several reasons to go to Dallas. First, I have NEVER been to her home. She has lived out in Texas for several years and is making a life for herself with her husband. She has been back East a few times, but I have never made the effort to go out her way. Mostly because I have in the past always thought about the cost for the whole family to go...and we just don't have it.

But I got to thinking the other day...and one ticket isn't nearly as prohibitive as five tickets. So I decided I would look into it. I would love to see her home, her puppy (she has a Jack Russell terrier named Calli), and get to know her man a bit better than I do. He strikes me as the silent type...maybe he will not really hang out with us, who knows, but it would be nice to get to know him better.

I really wish I was closer to my sisters than I am. We don't really know each other that well. Maybe this trip won't change that any, but maybe it will. I won't know unless I try, right? I wish my sisters felt that they could rely on me, but they don't. I'm not that important to their lives.

Another reason to visit my sister? I guess you could say that I want to observe the "other life." The life of married adults without children. Don't misunderstand, I love my children, I want my children. I just find it hard to NEVER have time without them. When I told my daughter Allison I was taking this trip she was angry with me. Very angry. Because she wasn't invited.

I think that is part of the issue involved with this trip too. I never feel comfortable saying that I want something to myself. I know that I am not the only mom out there to experience this, but its sometimes hard to get others to admit it openly. The tough thing to admit is this: sometimes we don't want to share. Sometimes we want things for ourselves. We don't want to come up with an explanation for why we want not to share, we just don't want to. I think it's because we are expected to share EVERYTHING. It starts from the very beginning. When we first find out we are pregnant. We are sharing our body with a newcomer. They are growing inside of us. And it is a miracle. It is wonderful. We wait to feel the first movement or "quickening." We rush home with that ultrasound, the first physical proof that we are indeed a host to our little one. A good host makes sure that all who are present are comfortable and have what they need. So we go about our business making sure that our precious visitor has what they need...enough vitamins, enough water, exercise, the latest in technology designed to listen in...

Then the baby is born. The baby comes out, squishy, messy and loud. The baby is beautiful yes, but also loud and demanding. They need comfort, they need food, they need warmth. You share your body again. You nurse them. You hold them. You take them into the bed with you. You are still one.

The baby grows. They cry. You respond. You donate your sleep. You donate your wardrobe to spit up and leaky diapers. You change your shirt and laugh off what a mess it is. You give up hair appointments because you can't seem to fit it in around their nursing schedule. You let the condition of your home slide because your baby needs you. The laundry can wait.

The baby grows and begins to notice the world around them. They need you. For comfort. They want to explore, but they are unsure of what they find. You donate your patience because they cannot bear to let you leave the room. You become their touchstone and that is a good feeling. Knowing that you can provide security, warmth, safety.

The baby grows. They begin to walk, climb, tumble and fall. You donate your affection. They get scrapes, bruises, bumps and abraded egos. Your kisses are a salve that heals all wounds and that feels oh-so good inside, knowing that another human being values your kisses so much that they will insist that you come from far away to administer the panacea of love.

The baby is no longer a baby. They are a toddler. They learn to talk. They tell you "I love you" and "I want that." You are thrilled that they are learning to express themselves. You remind them that they no longer need to cry to get what they need and that they can "use their words." You donate your time to reminding them, explaining their world to them, reasoning with them, and teaching them the fine art of negotiation. They learn to say "No" and they learn to accept when you say "No" to something that they request.

The toddler becomes a preschooler. They are testing the limits of your affection. They throw tantrums. They lie. They break things. They fight with siblings, their friends and you. They refuse to do what they are told. You donate your time to researching the best discipline methods, how to teach a preschooler etiquette ("No, you should not tell that lady she is fat!"). They take classes. Form friendships. You donate your judgement sometimes, to help them make good choices in their friendships. Sometimes you withold your judgement so they can develop their own judgement. You hang out with people that you may not otherwise spend time with due to your desire for your children to make friends and develop relationships.

Your preschooler becomes an elementary school aged child. They learn about authority, they test authority, and they make their first steps into the world without your close supervision. You aren't there all day to see what they are exposed to. You donate your hope to the idea that they are not being exposed to the wrong things, you donate your time to field trips, your money to fundraisers, and your concern to the issues that they bring home to share with you over their afternoon snack.

As your children grow, you sacrifice your dignity, your energy and your ego to their close scrutiny. This is hard if you aren't a secure individual. It's something that you do joyfully, but not without cost to you. As you stand there with dinner, carefully prepared and listen to the chorus of "Do we have to eat this?" sometimes you want to walk out the door, and go out to dinner alone. The thought of pouring yourself a few cocktails while making dinner in preparation for the critique session coming is very appealing. But if they have a friend over for dinner, you probably reason that it would be unwise to leave a vapor trail behind as you answered the door when their parents arrived at pick up.

So is it really hard to understand why I don't want to share? When I try to quietly, surreptitiously, open a candy bar and eat it all alone and wind up faced with a child with an outstretched hand and "Can I have some?" in their eyes and on their lips, do you begrudge me my frustration?

I think this trip to Dallas is mine and you can't have it.

Five things:

1.) I am grateful that my husband at least tries to understand
2.) I am grateful that my husband cares about my happiness
3.) I am grateful that I have a sister to go visit
4.) I am grateful for my friend Dawn (you know why if you read this)
5.) I am grateful for good music and funny comedians to cheer me up.

1 comment:

Robin said...

You go, girl. This trip is yours and they can't have it.