May 26, 2015 § 1 Comment
A raging wall of water ripped houses off their foundations and tossed them whole, all the pie plates and Fritos, sliced watermelons, Pack-n-Plays, bathing suits and dominos out into the river. It is easiest to make it sound like a rained out picnic, a holiday gone wrong. It is easiest to go touring the waterline, measure our height against the muddy marker on the bent over tree, and not think about a body pressed hard against it by the current, dumped out of a bed while sleeping. It is easiest not to think about the babies.
Maybe stick to the Instagram feeds and the downtown floods that only kill money and cars.
Maybe just pretty pictures of clouds.
May 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
The last week of #powerrehab, everything was a total disaster. The contents of my house were tossed in heaps, the red head was infested with lice, people were vomiting and urinating on all the freshly sanitized bedding, and we were trapped at home by threat of rain and the rules of good citizenship.
This rite of passage followed several weeks of undoing and disruption to our schedule with house guests, growth spurts, teething, changing sleep schedules, and unending allergies. All of this is added up to the inevitable, fiercely resisted Change of Season. (That should be printed in the blood dripping, horror movie type face.)
I had been panicking off and on over the last few weeks, grabbing at the remains of #powerrehab as they slipped through my fingers. The once vast expanse of my 5am writing time disappeared into the needy full body embrace of my almost 15 month old. My long trail walks dissolved into the pounding, relentless rain. The babysitting hours were spent in long, luxurious waits at the doctor’s office.
The rhythms and routines we so meticulously crafted to support my mental and physical healing were crushed, every system broken down beyond repair.
And yet, here I am.
All good training programs end with a week that exposes the strength they have been systematically building. If the program was worth anything and you have put in the work, when you step up to the bar in that last week, loaded with more weight than you have ever picked up before, you will pick it up. Just like that. Though thoroughly unplanned, it is fitting that #powerrehab end with such a test.
Last week, as I stood under the bright lights in my kitchen, on the third hour of combing through tiny sections of wild, curly hair, carefully examining each wiry strand, it occurred to me that I did not hurt. I scanned my body looking for pain and found only the outline of sensation around my sciatic nerve. My back was strong and straight, my spine and shoulders right where they should be. My body, which could not even put on a backpack 56 days ago, tackled ten loads of laundry, eight bedding changes, vacuumed a two story house, all the furniture, beds, and the car seats, and successfully stood up and deloused three little girls all in 24 hours.
While I marveled at this ridiculous improvement in strength, it struck me as very silly that my latest PR came not with a steel barbell, but a steel lice comb and I started to giggle. And there it was, more impressive than core strength holding a wounded spine in place, a mind holding itself together. My mind, which could not handle the noise and stress of a single family meal seven weeks ago, was cheerfully nitpicking shrieking baby heads for the second day in a row.
All of my grumbling, the uninspiring work outs and painful, rose-filled walks, the life rules, the tongue biting, pill swallowing, and hashtag regret of the eight weeks of #powerrehab fell away as I stood there, calmly smiling down at hands full of knotted hair, a baby rubbing snot and string cheese from my knees to my ankles, in a kitchen washed in glitter, serenaded by the washer, dryer, and dishwasher all chirping simultaneously, and Frozen blaring through the iPad. Truly a weight I could not pick up two months ago. But there I was, being so insanely hardcore, picking it up.
Today #powerrehab is complete. Every box is checked from Holy Week through Pentecost. Ordinary time begins today, and there is no new notebook set up, no charts or graphs ready to receive gold stars, no fresh system in place to hold up my precious goals as a sane writer/mother person with a functioning spine and reasonably clean home. I do not know what happens next, other than more laundry, more rain, and a very long nap.
I’m wandering into this new season without a plan, or at least not one that I’ve been allowed to see. I trust that there is one, since there are still plenty of good adventures to navigate in the days immediately ahead — moods and medications to wrestle, school years to end and begin, a career change that is still significantly changing us, and the care and maintenance of all of these bodies. Yes, I trust that there is one, and that if I can just stay thankful that I have been given the gift of wandering, on my own two feet, without whimpering in pain, with the freedom to pick real bugs out of my kids hair instead of hallucinating them crawling across my desk, then it is a very, very good plan.
May 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
It has been raining all month.
I have been collecting sleep in buckets and pouring them wildly over my head whenever the opportunity has presented itself. Trapping my big kids in their room with audio books and napping with the baby, going to bed at 8pm and waking up well past dawn. I have some kind of otherwise symptomless sleeping disease that is eating away all of my writing time, and you know it’s real because I am just going with it. And I am not one to go with things.
My mother arrives today for a long overdue visit, so I am taking the opportunity to perch the baby on her most welcoming head, and in between the tea parties and fashion shows, to sleep the deep, heavy sleep only children know when their mother is in the house.
May 13, 2015 § 1 Comment
May 11, 2015 § 2 Comments
On a day you cannot move forward, you do not feel in love, you do not feel proud, you do not feel inspired, you do not want to find the energy, the effort to press, press, push. On a day when the shores are too far gone and you have no choice but to float, to glide, to wait until one or the other becomes an option. On a day that comes right in a string of days that lack reward, that do not fool you into believing you are doing it. When you are not thriving, winning, moving with the current to carve the landscape. On a day when you have not changed.
What do you do?
Do you draw circles on the page in your favorite ink just to feel your hand move on the page like a child rocking themselves to sleep? Like a smoker chewing gum? Not real, but better than nothing.
Better than nothing days. I know better than to think they won’t come, and thankfully I am wise enough to know they will go. They grate on me, the minutes scraping by, every one of them trying to convince me that I am standing still, waiting. Not working. Not blowing anyones mind. Not feeling the electric current of inspiration coursing through my being. Not living up to my expectations.
Yes, that is my expectation. The electric current of the universe coursing through my being.
What do I do on the days that aren’t like that?
First, I throw a fit and panic. I get myself so worked up in the doom of it all that I cannot possibly be a pleasant member of the Saturday morning breakfast table conversation with the tacos and the coloring books and the family I am clearly failing. I sit at my desk, face down in my notebook, begging it to please swallow my head. I very dramatically sob because the universe has very dramatically abandoned me. My husband leaves me to it because after ten years of marriage there is grace and there is wisdom. And because what I do next, often enough that I am still here, still writing these words, still moving this body, still married to this man — I get up.
With no electricity or enthusiasm, I climb onto the rails of the day. I set the table, I chew the food, I admire the exquisite Crayola masterpieces. I clear the table, I find the leotards, I braid the hair. We gymnastic. And the day goes on like this, with me on the train that is moving despite the empty sack of inspiration I’m dragging along behind it. Without fail I make it to bedtime grateful that my doing did not match my feeling.
As a person who regularly lists ZEAL (always all caps) in her top three core values, accepting that my own boredom is not a symptom of failure and irrelevant to others, continues to be one of my most formidable adulthood challenges.
My family does not require zealously scrambled eggs. My daughters do not require zealously applauded cartwheels. The milk flows freely from my breast regardless of how excited I am about it, and when I sit my body down on the couch, my family gathers around its automatically warmed 98.6 degrees and is mostly content just to have me there. Just to have me there.
So I offer this to you today, creator who found no inspiration waiting for them this morning, mother who woke up to mess, noise, and no help, anyone on psychiatric medication, and every other already tired human being who got up anyway: today, your boring, uninspired presence is doing work. You are on the train and the train is moving. You are in the river and the river is flowing. You are all the wonderful mixed metaphors that say breathing today is better than nothing.
May 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
Three times this week my rhythm has been ruined by sleep. Harriet, my 14 month old, is doing that awful thing that children do where they grow suddenly, violently in the night. This involves a great deal of thrashing and sideways nursing and sitting on my head at 4:10am. It does not involve my eyes opening magically at 5:21, the way they always do, eager to inch their way over to my desk and adjust to the blue-white glare of the book light on my notebook while she happily sleeps for another hour.
Instead, I have stumbled, red eyed and kind of angry, with her, bright eyed and bigger than yesterday, into the already bright morning around 6:30 with my 4 and 7 year olds, in full princess regalia, primping loudly (why is primping so loud?) in the full length mirror in my bedroom.As someone with bipolar disorder, particularly seasonally affected, rapid cycling bipolar disorder, I find that I am especially sensitive to routine, rhythm, order, and prone to rigid habit formation, system building, and addiction. I grab hold of the things that I perceive to be good and I do not let go without significant force. Most of the time, I use this power for good — a steady schedule, taking into account the needs of my whole family, keeps me healthy and blesses us all. When I get momentum going, I have iron clad will power, conviction, and determination. But when I cannot get the ball rolling, when it meets one too many turns, all those good things turn sharp. I become intractable, controlling, and harsh.
Why God saw fit to allow me a personality like this and three daughters, I will ever understand this side of Glory. The volume and depth of their drama will only grow louder and more complicated in time. What I do understand is that I have to spend 90% of my therapy hours figuring out how to soften the sharpest edges of my mind and tongue before that redhead meets puberty.