Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction

I last wrote one week and two nights ago. It was the day before school started. We have a week on our belts now, we've been to both curriculum nights and met all the teachers (one for Maggie and Ryan and a whopping eight for Caitlin who began Jr. High). In the past week, we've established a routine and survived the transition and came out relatively unscathed. But last Wednesday - the second day of school was one horrendous day. And it took a week to recover enough to write about.

We woke up at 6:00 am, as we do just about every day now that Cait's bus comes at 7:00. I didn't sleep much - thoughts of projects due at work and paperwork due at school kept my brain buzzing all night in a semi-dream state. Whose idea was it to subject preteen kids beginning a new school where they move from class to class eight times while managing to stop at their lockers, lug all their supplies and maybe hit the bathroom in under three minutes to a 7:30 am school day start? The most impressionable kids, undergoing the most social, emotional and physical changes they will experience in their whole lives are not allowed to sleep much.

Since they provided lunch on the first day and everything went so smoothly, I'm not going to get too down on myself for forgetting to make her lunch on the second day of school. I realized it about 20 seconds after she boarded the bus. Without her bus pass. Which I swear was not included in all the materials I was given on School of Information Day. Cait says its because I didn't stop at the table clearly marked "bus passes." She's probably right. I called several times before school started and talked to overworked, underpaid, stressed out, uninformed employees who said someone else would call me back. They never did. I called the office where I got the fairly polite, but slightly exasperated lecture about needing to pay $2 for the lost pass. As if I ever had it in the first place. They let her on the bus, but not without a warning which to a 12 year old kid with Asperger's Syndrome on the first day of school is akin to a big scarlet letter on the chest. A couple days later, I found a real direct line to the Transporation Department and it was immediately sorted out.

I was already feeling stressed by 7:30 knowing I was going to be late for a meeting at work, realizing suddenly I had two fifth graders and a 7th grader, which did not seem right. Started thinking about Caitlin having trouble opening her locker the day before and glanced out the window while rinsing off breakfast dishes and noticed the pool in the backyard looked considerably lower. Turns out three days of non stop rain are enough to collapse a pool that holds 10,000 gallons of water with one inflatable ring. Ignored the woodchips that had floated from the swingset to the backfence in one long riverlike shape, went out to unplug the filter and walked away.

Pushed thoughts of visiting my uncle who was admitted to a nursing home ten blocks from my home a mere two days earlier with dementia out of my head since there would be no time between work, dinner and two concurrent meetings at church that evening to check on him even though my dad was out of town. Briefly logged onto my computer, don't quite remember why - checking the weather perhaps? and stumbled upon two emails, the first a confirmation from the Girl Scout Troop leader that we couldn't get our $130 refunded by not going on the Camp Retreat that coming up weekend and another between two people close to me having a lot of difficulty relating to each other and I began to feel like the pool collapsing.

Got Maggie and Ryan to the bus stop and began driving to work. Felt really emotional. Decided not to listen to music. Every lyric was taunting me.

Got to the meeting late and tried to sneak in unnoticed in the back. When you are usually the loudest person in the room with the most animated face and taking notes in the first row you don't go unnoticed arriving late in the back. And if it looks like you're not smiling and you work with a bunch of pastors and people who assist pastors they notice. Right away. And touch your arm affectionately. And give you looks from across the room like "Is everything alright?" And you know you're going to cry. And you think - okay - no big deal. I'm having a bad day. These people will understand. I can pull myself together and get all the stuff that's overdue and urgently needing to be done today done. Really. I can. And then your boss who is leading the meeting says instead of giving staff updates today, he feels like there's so much going on in our lives both professionally and personally that we should just spend the morning praying. So we're going to break into groups and share our requests and pray for each other and the ministry. I'm now realizing I'm about to lose all control and as willing as I am to have these people pray for me and even see me cry, I won't be able to get the words out I am so overcome with emotion. So I try to leave discreetly (again impossible in a room full of pastors) and disappear so as not to monopolize the entire group I would have been assigned to - hoping to pray alone in a quiet room and collect myself enough to explain my hasty exit later.

Find a dark empty room in the basement and get on my knees praying while crying uncontrollably. Every time I think I'm going to be able to make my way to the bathroom and reapply makeup it starts up again. Scare the heck out of the poor maintenance guy who comes into the dark room to set up for an event later that day. Head over to the bathroom knowing the meeting is over by now and try again to calm down. Ten minutes later another employee comes in and more sobbing ensues. Make my way up to the office of the woman who directs all ministry for women who is also a friend and finally string together two to three sentences that sort of explain why I'm hysterical. Relax a bit while she prays for me and relax a bit more when she suggests I leave. Immediately. She'll even get my purse and usher me out the back door.

I take her up on it. I send emails to a few key people when I get home - nope, it doesn't look like any of that urgent stuff is getting done today....and then I turn the computer off, read my Bible for an hour and take a two hour nap.

When I woke up I felt better - decided not to attend either concurrent meeting at church and plugged on with my week.

Went on the Girl Scout Trip on Saturday even though Maggie was nervous, our schedule was crammed and I had to drive almost 2 hours to Oregon, IL before 10:00 am with Maggie half-asleep in the back seat. Realized God shows a lot of grace when things seem darkest. We had one of the best days of our lives horse back riding, hiking, eating meals someone else prepared, going on hay rides and best of all I got to confer with all the other moms who are equally stressed out - some for very similar reasons, some have whole new stories, but everyone listening compassionately, nodding, even laughing and encouraging each other, while Maggie played her heart out with girls who were happy there were no boys there to get in the way.

I'll maybe write about the two days I spent with my uncle on Sunday and Monday another day. I experienced first hand the opposite ends of the spectrum for someone suffering from dementia for the first time.

Monday afternoon I had another emotional breakdown.

If you've been in therapy for any length of time (and I was for three years) you can brush off one melt down fairly easily, but two in one week really makes you take a step back and reassess if there isn't something terribly wrong. And when you talk it out with a very patient husband and an equally concerned sister you begin to see why you're so stressed. Because if a friend was doing all the things you were doing you'd be telling her/him to stop everything before they killed themselves and figure out what the real priorities are and limit their time to them.

So it's one week into school and my kids are pretty well adjusted. They've adapted to some new expectations, met some new people, figured out how to navigate through hallways and parking lots, gotten their homework done before dinner and still had time to play with neighborhood friends.

I've stepped down from two major commitments, warned several family members not to expect much from me for awhile and gotten a great deal of support at work to cut back on my work load. I'm navigating some hallways too I suppose.

I thought about how much of this to put out there - some of you don't know me very well at all. Some of you don't think this personal stuff is anyone else's business and we don't need to be advertising our shortcomings. But I'm writing about it anyway. Because many people think that people like me always have it all together and truth is we don't. I'm writing about it because I have a prideful habit of always wanting to look good and I'm trying to care less how I look to anyone but God. I'm writing about it because maybe someone can relate and will feel better knowing they're not alone. And I'm writing about it because I love to write.

They say write what you know. I know this was one crazy week of ups and downs and occasional mass hysteria. I know my husband loves me 100 times more than he did when he married me. I know my family cares deeply for my well being even when I'm making them crazy. I know I have friends who will encourage me even if their circumstances are equally horrific. I know I am blessed to work with people who will stop everything and petition God on my behalf. I know Whom I have believed. And He is doing a work in me.

No comments: