Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sanity, lost and found

Finally it all makes sense!

I'm losing my mind. It has been one thing after another lately, and last night I reached peak overload. I threw in the towel and called everything off. All of it. Homeschooling. Motherhood. Cooking. Cleaning. Breathing. I. Can't. Do. This. Anymore.

Have you ever been there?

My resignation lasted all of a few minutes. Of course I can do this, I just seem to have temporarily misplaced my sanity. It all started with the car accident and not being able to do much of anything physically. Just trying to situate myself to pee took my breath away the first few days. Then girls started acting out-- Sunburst with her open defiance, and Moonshine with the incessant whining. Kitty Bill started climbing on the tables and whacking things off the counters. No one was sleeping. Our rhythms got totally and completely whacked out, and then came the vomitting. All this and Christmas, too!

Moonshine vomitted all through Solstice. There was no greeting of the sun or gathering of friends, reverance, symbolism, and candlelit spiral bliss. There was just vommit. It subsided just in time for Christmas morning, thankfully, but by then we were simply worn out.

Since the vomitting sickness, Moonshine has been less than agreeable. She has been throwing a tantrum a day. These are all-new tantrums. Special tantrums. Flailing, kicking, screaming, shrieking, crying until you can't breathe, vomitting, and then crying some more tantrums. We have had at least one-a-day for several days now, and the slightest thing sets them off. Last night was perhaps the pinnacle of tantrumness, just as dinner was put upon the table. And that was it for me. Maximum overload. I threw in my proverbial towel and had to step away from the child.

There's a lot I don't understand about my kids. Now, I cried a lot as a kid. I did. You just had to look at me wrong, and there I would go, off like a sprinkler. But to kick and scream and cry hard enough to vomit? When I've lost people I loved, I've cried that hard. But at four? Over a lost sticker? A piece of candy? Dinner?

It's too much to deal with. It's too much for me. It's certainly too much for Moonshine. She gets on this roll, and she can't stop herself. Seriously, she shrieks and cries and flips out for over an hour until she literally can't breathe and starts gagging. And the only thing I've found that works is if I get down on her level and hold her close to me with a hand covering her eyes and tell her a story. I have to block out reality... the smells, the sounds, the sights in the room, and I have to give her this illusory world to live into. As quickly as I can come up with something. A story of Jenny, the weaver's daughter working on her wedding shawl. Hear the shuttle breathe against the warp threads. See the pattern of doves on the fabric. A story of the whirring snowflakes, sparkling in the moonlight and all the animals and fairies gathering round for a wintery party. Oh look, there's Mr. Squirrel peeking out of his nest. Won't you come join the party, the fairies cry to him? We've plenty of nuts! And Ms. Mouse scurries out wearing a red silken gown. She's brought a plate of the finest gingerbread cookies to share, and the fairies catch scent of them and squeal with delight...

And on I go, for half an hour or so. As long as it takes to get her breathing and still and safe. To get her sorted out and functioning back in our world long enough so I can clean up the vomit and wipe her face and get Kitty Bill off the table again.

In thinking about it all, it's no surprise to me that I'm going crazy. I feel like my world is imploding, that everything is coming to a head. And it is. Apparently it's supposed to be. I'm 34.

I've been reading this book, Taking Charge: Your Life Patterns and Their Meaning, by Gudrun Burkhard. It's an anthroposophy book dealing with biography work, similarities, and life stages. Supposedly there is a life crisis somewhere between the ages of 30-33. You know, plus or minus. At age 35 you begin a new life phase. This crisis is a catalyst for that new phase. A change, a metamorphosis, a becoming... and apparently this is mine.

Biography work is amazing stuff. I've gone through a lot of major changes since I turned 30. We got rid of almost everything we owned and moved to Texas. My dad died. We simultaneously had a baby, sold our house, and moved to the midwest. Things were going swell, and then WHAM! Car crash wake up call. And this summer, we will move again, and start over for the third time in four years.

Einstein is ecstatic about that. He can't wait. But then again, he's 37. He's at that major turning point, according to the book, where people change their jobs and plod forward with bold enthusiasm. Me? I just want to stick my head into the sand. Call me when it's over. When the kids stop screaming and the floors get cleaned and my body stops hurting. And I'm not coming out a moment sooner... I wish.

Today I woke with a plan. Starting with getting our rhythm back into place. I walked on eggshells around Moonshine today and spoonfed her syrupy words and catered to her every need. I fed her before she knew she was hungry. I held her before she knew she needed to be held. I coddled her in every imaginable way... and there was no flailing and crying. A few shrieks, yes, but no knock-down, drag-out vomitting freakshow. It was a GOOD day.

And what's more, I even managed to get in a few minutes of homeschooling time with Sunburst. I fed her some Anansi stories to match the soap-on-your-toothbrush antics she's been up to lately. And she lapped them up like honey and asked for more.

We're off to a better start just in time for the new year. And tomorrow, joy of joys, Moxy Jane is coming! Here! To my house!

Surely, things can only get better.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Heart on my sleeve

This car accident is the gift that keeps on giving this season. Today I was told that my left heel may have a small crack in the bone, but there is no treatment for it except to keep off of it and wait.

How long? As long as it takes.

They're labeling it as a bony contusion (bruised bone) at this point, and if I can't bear pressure on it in a month then they will do an MRI to check the extent of the damage, just for fun. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to crutch it, and the doc told me it would probably hurt for awhile. How long is awhile? Months, apparently.

Doesn't the universe know that I have THREE SMALL KIDS? That I don't ship them off to school and preschool and daycare everyday? That we're home and learning and that they need me? I've been eeking by the last month with help. We've been on our own for a week and I'm struggling to keep up. It takes me all day long now to do an hour's worth of cleaning. Add to that Moonshine's vomiting and Kitty Bill's ear infection, and I'm just like a wet piece of toast.

I've got my heart on my sleeve this week. I'm sad and confused and angry all at once. I want to be feeling the joy and singing the carols. It's Christmastime! Solstice is here! But I'm not here, not present in the moment, not really. I've got a heavy load.

Einstein is back on the job market. He missed an interview in England the week after the accident because we couldn't walk. In two weeks he'll be interviewing for a position at in Utah. The thought of picking up again already is painful and scary. I knew it was coming, that we were still transitory. But I also didn't expect to like the midwest so much. Sure, I miss the mountains out west, but there are some truly amazing folks here. The homeschooling community is diverse and welcoming and just full of some really fantastic people.

Of course I said that about Texas, too. We seem to be making family wherever we go. I'm just tired of going. Tired of packing up and putting myself out there. Doing the little homeschool dance with a new community. Will they like us? Are we too different? Will our kids fit in? Will it be enough?

This is the first time I've felt these questions so deeply because as tired as I am of moving, this is it. This is what I wanted. These jobs are permanent, forever, put your roots down and watch your kids grow up too fast. There are still a dozen applications out there, and there's no telling how many of them we'll get to choose between. How do you choose forever? By the scenery? By the job? By the homeschooling environment? By the community? It's hard.

Maybe I've got to put down my heavy load, and as terrifying as it is, let forever choose us.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Low-down

Thanks so much everyone for all the well wishes. It means so much! And thanks for hanging in there with me... it has been a crazy time. Crazy!

I know some of you were waiting for the gruesome details of our car accident. It could have been much worse, really. But I'll give you the low-down. Suffice it to say that we had a very full vehicle. We had company in town. Remember my step-mom who had just been in ICU for a month? She was in the front seat. She had come to visit, and we were having a lovely time. It was her last day with us, and we were taking her to see the lake. She's from Tucson where naturally occurring water is a mystical thing. Anyway, we didn't quite make it to the lake that day.

I was in the middle of the backseat with the three kids. I had just unbuckled my seatbelt because Kitty Bill was screaming. I felt Einstein hit the brakes, and I turned my head just in time to see this car SMASH right into us. Next thing I knew I was in the front seat and the car was filling with smoke and the kids were screaming their heads off.

We all got out of the car, and I registered the fact that my head and leg were hurting more than a bit. But Kitty Bill, 14 months old at the time of the accident, had a mouthful of blood. BLOOD. I rememember thinking, OMG! MY BABY'S BLEEDING! Maybe I screamed it a few times. My memory is a bit fuzzy about that. The girls, Sunburst and Moonshine, were screaming, too. Crying and screaming. And of course Kitty Bill was screaming. He bit his tounge pretty hard... though at the time, I had no clue why he was bleeding so much.

I couldn't stand. It was 30-some odd degrees outside and sort of raining/sleeting. But my brain didn't register that. It only told me, SIT DOWN. So I sat in the cold, wet grass rocking a bleeding baby. Completely helpless to calm my girls. Completely incapable, especially when I reached back to touch my pounding head and came away with a handful of my own blood. The back of my head was soaked with blood. It was dripping down my neck, and the paramedics told me my neck was cut. At that point, they could have told me that aliens were dropping out of the sky. The shivering and shock started to set in, and some nice bystander brought me a blanket while we waited to be loaded into the ambulance.

My stepmom took out the glovebox with her knee and shin. Einstein ended up with swollen knees. Sunburst cut her knee. Moonshine and Kitty Bill... let me just say, carseats really are worth every penny. Those thick metal clips that you're supposed to use when you're fastening a carseat to a shoulder harness belt? Those clips actually BENT from the force of the accident. Oddly enough, we were congratulated in the ambulance by a local firefighter for having our carseats properly installed with those clips. It was a weird moment.

And me? Physically, I'm okay. The insurance adjuster surmised that I flew through the car: bent the driver's seat with my body/leg, busted off the rearview mirror with one part of my head, caught my hair (where a clump of it still hangs to this day) on the visor clip, and then proceeded to smash another part of my head into the passenger's side windshield. I've been told that had I weighed more or had we been going a tiny bit faster... or had I not been impeded with bending that driver's seat... maybe I would have gone though the windshield?

But, I didn't. I'm here.

I've had just about every part of my body x-rayed and/or CT-scanned by now. I'm making progress. I've been able to wear a shoe on my left foot for a few days now. I'm finally hobbling along without crutches, though I can't bear any weight on my left heel-- still waiting on the results from that x-ray. My ankle is still a beautiful shade of blue-green. In the ER they originally thought my leg was broken and put me in a knee-to-crotch immobilizer for a few days. They washed and examined my bloody head and offered to staple it closed. They ran some kind of dye and iodine solution through my system and stuck me in a machine to see if I impaled any of my organs when I flew around in the car. Luckily, all I did was break an L-2 transverse process. In layman's terms, that's one of those wings that stick out on the side of my spine in my lower back. Apparently it breaks only when you twist really hard... and four weeks later it hurts when I twist or lift anything heavy or bend wrong or pull or push or sneeze hard. So I'm trying not to do those things.

Emotionally? I think we're all messed up. Einstein and I are both a bit freaked out when we drive. The girls are having trouble sleeping and having behavior problems, and Moonshine seems suddenly obsessed with death. "Because sometimes even loving mothers die, like in Cinderella." They have been playing "Dead Princess," over and over and over. Maybe it's all a coincidence? But I'm thinking that now that I can walk somewhat it's time to check us all into some kind of post-accident therapy.

We were so blessed to have such wonderful help over the last four weeks! People brought us lunch and dinner and Thanksgiving pies. They helped shuttle our kids various places, loaned us crutches, rescued us at the ER with warm tea and vegan treats, and took our girls home, bathed them and put them to bed. Amazing folks! We also had family here helping out. Einstein's parents came for five days, and then my youngest teenage sister flew out from California for two weeks. Since she's homeschooled, she can do that!

With my sister's help we managed to eek out some birthday cheer for Einstein, get the shoes out for St. Nicholas Day, decorate for Advent and Christmas, and do a Santa Lucia breakfast. Plus, she made me laugh so hard I cried. Truly. And of course she helped enormously with the kids- leave it to Kitty Bill to learn how to climb on the dining room table the day after the accident!

And there you have it. The long, full story of why we haven't done any formal homeschooling in the last month. And now, we're moving on into the Christmas hooplah, and then hopefully we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program. Heart, hands, head. Homeschooling and all that.
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