Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful 2018

If you know me in real life, then you most likely know my feelings on Thanksgiving.  (Spoiler Alert: It's not a holiday I dig.)  You'll find me much more in tune with the "Day of Mourning" that many Indigenous People hold to on the fourth Thursday in November in lieu of the typical Pilgrims-and-First-Persons-let's-all-sing-Kumbaya-around-the-fire-with-a-turkey-Hallmark holiday.  My mom is a tribal person and, while we made turkey and all got together on Thanksgiving, in my home growing up, it was the day after Thanksgiving that was the big deal: she would make chicken and dumplings (sometimes turkey sandwiches, too, if there was enough turkey leftover) and eggnog and we would trim the tree and our house for Christmas.  Being "thankful" was supposed to be a daily thing, not something we relegated to a Thursday dinner where we stuffed ourselves beyond recognition. Good food and lots of cooking, yes.  But the holiday itself... No.

When Peter and I married, his mom loved to cook Thanksgiving so it was something that became our tradition.  She does Thursday and then Friday, folks come to my house for leftovers (tomorrow, they will be transformed into a leek, gruyere, turkey quiche and salad!)  Yet, today, I feel especially thankful.

It's been 9 days since I lost my cool with the kids.  9 days since I've felt that familiar anxiety that eroded our home with its rage and frustration and anger and sadness.  9 days since I've felt like I'm not the mother I wanted to be.  It's been 9 days since I woke up feeling like "Oh God... Another day to get through", feeling like I'm already behind before I've started, wanting to just hurl through the hours until it's over and I'm laying in bed again, awake, wondering how to ever make it better.  For eight mornings, I have woken up with hope. 

I don't know that I have believed the people who touted how amazing CBD was or how it literally changed them overnight.

But it has.  Things are different.  And while I fully expect to fight or to argue or to have issues arise, the person who is facing life is different. 

I knew that I would be off from teaching this week for the holidays so I had said to Peter that I wanted to take the kids on a field trip.  They've been begging and, since I teach in the afternoons, it's a bit tough to try and figure that out.  Not to mention, he now works 40 minutes away from home and we still only have one car, so trying to figure everything out is hectic and stressful.  And I hate field trips.  So there's that.  But I digress.  I knew that I needed to and that I should.  And so, preCBD, I decided to suck it up for the team and plan one, even though I knew it would be the same way it always is: a near miss disaster that usually involves a frustrated mom barely holding her shit together as she tries to convince herself not to cry while driving home at the end of the thing, spent and useless.

Peter had a work happy hour and so we loosely laid out a plan.  Someone we would get him to work and I would do a field trip to central PA, then (since I would drive by his exit anyway) we would stop and join him for dinner after happy hour, then drive him home.  Because I'm me, I had a full fledged plan on how this day would schedule in my head.

Which meant that, on Monday, when life threw a monkey wrench in to the plans, I would have an utter meltdown because now what?  My plan was useless!  I.COULDNT.POSSIBLY.DO.THIS.WITHOUT.A.PLAN.

Instead, I calmly told Peter what I needed at a minimum to be able to functionally do a field trip.  He listened and told me what he needed to do that day.  We came to a loose format and, although I couldn't plan for the multiple contingencies that I needed, I was able to wake up feeling positive about the proposed outing.  We dropped Peter off at work and decided to go to a local McDonald's with an indoor playland (this is our typical field trip "treat"; for some unknown reason, the kids love McDonald's pancakes and this has been their field trip breakfast for the last few years.) 

Just as we are approaching the McDonald's, not five minutes after dropping Peter off, awful happens: Lucas throws up.  All over himself.  All over the car.  Everywhere.  He's crying and all I see (and smell) is vomit.  And I'm driving, so I can't just stop.  I can see the McDonald's and I pull in.

Now the me of two weeks ago would already be melting down and probably talking to myself about how pointless even trying to have a good day is and how things always go wrong- you know, being extraordinarily unhelpful because the poor kid did something he had zero control over. 

Instead, I'm calmly talking him (and the other kids) through the mess and the parking.  I don't have anything to clean up, but I figure out a plan on the fly, dumping a bag of Peter's to-be-dry cleaned suit into the back so I can use the bag, getting as many wipes as I can, and starting to clean Lucas and the mess, getting him stripped, cleaned, and dressed and cleaning up the puke, all while the other kids are now laughing and joking (and I'm contributing).  We get everything squared away and I get all five kids out and we walk into the McDonald's...

Where we are greeted by a giant sign on the playland saying it is closed for renovation.  Something that they neglected to mention on their website when I was searching for indoor only playlands.  The next closest one?  No joke- it's near our house.  40 minutes away.  And in the opposite direction of where our planned field trip was.

The kids did not want an alternative and since I was trying to make this a fun day for them, we loaded back into the car and proceeded to the McDonald's- 2 miles from our house.   We listened to Minecraft parody songs, sang, laughed, and finally, over half an hour since we planned, the kids were playing while I ordered enough pancakes to feed a small army.

We ended up having a blast of a field trip (and I can honestly tell you that I don't remember the last time I didn't have a panic attack on a field trip trying to keep up with 5 kids in 5 different directions).  We went for ice cream afterwards at a dairy.  Again, no issues.  We drove back to meet Peter but I got there too early; he wasn't even leaving for happy hour.  So, instead of lamenting what I would do, we went grocery shopping to pick up a wreath for our front door and to get a few things for the desserts we were making (together no less) for Thanksgiving. 

5 kids....  A busy Wegman's at rush hour...  The Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Can you picture this?  I'll give you a second.... Are you seeing it?

It was fine.  We got what we needed.  We picked out a wreath for the front door and a hanging for the side door.  The kids got ingredients for our baked goods.  We checked out.  The woman next to me actually commented on how laid back of a mother I am (ME???  SERIOUSLY???) and how she isn't that calm and collected with her 2 kids, let alone "Oh-my-is that...3-4-5?"

We got into the car, where Ana proceeded to cry because she was DONE with the car, and then fight rush hour to go a mile or so to where the happy hour is.  We get there, get inside, and get dinner going.  Which meant everyone needed to go to the potty and there was a spilled drink and people wanted then didnt want their meal.  You know... Life with a bunch of little people.

It wasn't that big of a deal.  It turns out when you are calm and polite and you don't escalate the situation by adding your own anxiety into the mix, you are able to keep them relatively calm.  Who knew?  (Peter swears he knew... )

The couple with three kids next to us commented on how well behaved the kids were as I was double checking the booth after Peter paid the tab and started taking them all to the car.  They asked how we managed to keep the entire family so pleasant when they were struggling with their 3 and couldn't imagine what life was going to look like as people got older.

I can tell you, two weeks ago, they wouldn't have asked because I wouldn't have been approachable.  After dinners out with the average disasters that are likely with little people around a table, I tend to throw off a "leave me the hell alone" vibe.

On the way home... Lucas puked again.  All over everything.  About 5 minutes from home. 

No freaking out.  I pulled over in the dark and cold.  I got him changed while Peter cleaned up as best as he could on the side of the road.  And, instead of negative thoughts running through my head, do you know what I thought?  "At least there's a second pair of hands.  It makes this a lot quicker!"

We got home, got Lucas a shower, and I snuggled him while Peter helped get the other kids squared away for bed.

Another example of how I can see a mega change: cooking.  I love to cook- ALONE.  It is my happy place and my solace and, although I've smiled at times when the kids ask to help, inside I'm screaming NONONONONONONONO.  WHY DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS ONE THING FROM ME????????

Maya and Bobby love to help and they want to cook, both with me and on their own.  In the last few days, I've let them help.  I've encouraged them.  I've done nothing but given them praise (even as I'm cleaning up a mess).  Today, as I baked cookies that didn't come out, I wasn't thrilled that they were too thin, but it was a shrug as I plated them and moved on.  As the kids cooked desserts, I smiled and laughed with them and helped as needed.  There wasn't frustration or anxiety, about the process or the outcome. It just was.

And it was good.

There have been some physical differences too.  My RA pain is lessened, although I've read that I would need double my current dosing to see hardcore differences.  Right now, I've noticed less swelling and less pain, although my joints are still not in a great place.  I've found that menstrual cramps are greatly reduced.  Since Ana, my periods have been really awful.  Like 600mg of ibuprofen and constant hot water bags pain that is barely touched by either but they are enough to get me through the day.  Not to mention the bitchiness and frustration.  This period, which started a few days ago, has had one day of uncomfortable crampiness that were easily mitigated by hot water bottles and a lower dose of Advil. And I've been sleeping better.

I feel so incredibly thankful for the last week and a half.  The house is a warmer, more cheerful place. We have laughed more.  We have cried less.  It's been more peaceful.  We've been enjoying our time together.

And so, today, I want to sit around the dinner table and tell my family how thankful I am for them- for being able to enjoy them and for not having these moments slip by in a haze of anxiety and frustration.  I'm thankful to have found a way to find myself again and I'm enjoying the family that I'm so blessed to have. 

And I'm so thankful to say that I am looking forward to my days again.

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