Don’t call us, we’ll call you

July 28, 2014

April – May: Survive

Filed under: Chronic illness, Personal — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 3:33 am

I was gonna do ALL THE THINGS this year with 12 monthly themes, but now? Not so much. At least I organized, cooked, and worked.

What was I supposed to be doing in April and May, again? Researching? Writing? Quilting? Yeah, I didn’t do any of those. But I did survive and isn’t that what really matters? We were actually hit with quite a case of the yucks in April. We were all laid up for various lengths of time with colds, flus, and stomach ailments. My family’s camping trip, in the works for almost a year: I missed it. A solid week of work at my new job: slept through it. Addison’s annual visit with my parents so that Neal and I can celebrate our anniversary: vomited through it. BUT I SURVIVED!

By the time May rolled around, I was healthy but had some new things to survive. After having reduced hours in my online teaching the previous semester, they asked me to bump back up to my previous workload of two classes and supervisory responsibilities (it’s cyclical based on a credit-hour cap per year). Then, my new job asked if I could take on some extra hours in May and June to help us finish out the fiscal year. Normally I wouldn’t agree to 50-hour work weeks, but for a variety of long-term planning reasons, we decided to give it a whirl for a semester and see if we all . . . survived. Also, did I mention that in April they asked me to be in the Primary Presidency (overseeing the children at our church) in addition to leading the local Cub Scouts? Thank goodness I’m great with kids, right?! (Or have no idea how to talk to kids – one of those.)

I guess you already know what happened. I survived. All of it. I’m not planning on taking on that much work again anytime soon, but it worked out and our bank account will be much happier come August (I teach on contract so no pay comes in that month). After that month of ill health in April, I felt incredibly blessed and sustained to get through May as well as I did. Especially considering June’s theme . . .

April 27, 2014

A good life

Filed under: Chronic illness, History, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 11:39 pm

In a comment on my post earlier this week, Em mentioned that Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken, had spoken publicly about her struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had never heard her “story” before so I looked up her New Yorker essay, along with assorted interviews and articles. So many parts were eerily familiar. We were almost the same age at onset, dropping out of college, being accused of making up our symptoms to avoid going back to school (so puzzling since college was the best thing ever!), and deemed more fitting for a psychiatrist than a physician. Many things from this interview on Beliefnet resonated with my experience, but especially her response to what advice she would give to others with CFS. She said:

It’s such an individual journey. But what I would say is, no matter what happens with this illness, I think it is possible to carve out a dignified and productive life. This illness takes everything away from you, and you have to find completely different ways to define what your life will mean to you. But I think it’s possible to make a good life. I have been happy in the time that I’ve been sick. It requires a real redefinition of everything, but I think it is possible to do.

More than anything, getting sick as a teenager forced me to completely redefine my life. Everything was gone, and I had to put things back together one little piece at a time. But like her, I know it’s possible to “carve out a dignified and productive life.” I’m really not sure how long this new “day job” will be sustainable for me, which is why I’m so grateful to live in a time where I know I can do productive work right from my own bed. Despite the hopelessness that I’ve sometimes felt over the last month, I know I’ve had a good life and that I will continue to, regardless of how my health ebbs and flows.

April 21, 2014

March: Work

I organized; I cooked. Two months in a row sticking to my plan isn’t too shabby! Alas, no research happened in March. But lots of work nonetheless. If I had known at the start of this year that I would be taking on another job, I probably would have changed 2014’s theme from Do ALL THE THINGS! to Just Stay Alive. I know working Monday through Wednesday from 8:30-3:15 doesn’t sound like a ton, but oh goodness, this has been a hard change!

I managed it pretty well in March, but April has been another story. I’ve been sick almost every day in April, even missing a whole week of work. I think I have taken for granted my relative good health these last couple of years and forgotten how grinding more intense chronic pain, sickness, and insomnia gets.  It has been a struggle to not slip into a depression after the last two and a half weeks. (I should probably reread this post.) Working out of my house, which I haven’t done in a rigid way since probably 2005, certainly adds an extra layer of stress when I’m feeling ill. At 4:30 am it really doesn’t help to keep telling myself, “You have to sleep. You have to get up in 3 hours . . . 2 hours . . . 1 hour.”

Despite all that, my new job is a good combination of great coworkers (I think that has all but solved my need for a social outlet in our town), direct service, and repetitive paperwork. I know some people hate paperwork, but for me, the paperwork is essential. I love the precision element of it — my paperwork can be nearly perfect with effort, even if the lives of my clients (and all humans, obviously) are always messy. And I love the space it offers to decompress after those difficult meetings. But even in those difficult meetings — like the one with someone whose husband had abandoned her after a particularly messy fight several days before, in which I had to find a way to gently express that breaking things throughout the house is in fact a sign of domestic violence even if he didn’t break her — there is something refreshing in comparison to prison work. Because I can always help them, somehow. Even if it’s just a bag of food from our Food Pantry or a pack of diapers or a small gift card to the local market, I know I can always send them away with a tangible thing that will make them feel a little more hopeful about the future. Not to mention a hug or supportive touch on the arm. Human touch is valuable; it’s only in replaying all these meetings, first with my incarcerated men and now with these men and women, that I see how different a meeting is in which we often could not even shake hands.

I need to go back to work tomorrow despite still not being in the best shape physically. Writing this out made that prospect feel just a little bit easier.

March 28, 2014

Be still, my soul

Filed under: Chronic illness, History, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 8:56 am

I’ve had the strangest day today. Not in terms of anything remarkable happening — in fact, I was only out of bed for a combined 3 hours — but in the way I’ve felt. It had something to do with this:

Not David Archuleta (though I’m sure he’s perfectly lovely, I think I’ve heard him sing about twice in my life), but the song. I’ve written before about some songs that loom large in my life, but this is the most important one. I think I might have killed myself* a time or two if not for these words, this music that seeped into my soul at just the right moments.

I never turn down an opportunity to listen to this hymn, so when this video came across my newsfeed, I had to click on it. In the process I revisit a thousand moments: I’m on the floor in the bathroom too weak to move; I’m singing to Addison while she cries through her growing pains (she used to request “still my soul” but of course, I thought she was spelling it “steal my soul” and never could figure out who would teach her such a terrible song); I’m at the tragically beautiful funeral of one of the dearest little ones ever to grace the earth. This song simultaneously takes me back to the moments that I was giving up completely and the ones where I decided to never give up.

Each lyric has been important to me in its own time and way, but today it’s this one: “Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past.” These last several years have been a tumultuous time in my church. And these last several months have been a tumultuous time in my ward. And these last several weeks have been a tumultuous time in my life as I’m trying to figure out how to get out of bed every morning and sit upright for 7 hours a day (and then sleep afterward — it’s currently 2:00 am). But today I feel no fear. My God has delivered me and so many others from much worse than this, and I know He does undertake to guide the future just as He has the past.

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;

With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend

Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

 

Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as he has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

 

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

 

*Have I talked about being seriously suicidal on here before? Because I’m going to. There’s no other way to explain my life. (I’ve been a little scared to do it, though I’ve danced around the topic enough that I’m sure most of you have picked up on the subtext.)

November 4, 2013

Mommy update: 34 years

Once upon a time, I tried to write “mommy updates” about every six months. I was interested in chronicling my evolving identity as a mother. Now I barely manage a blog post a month, so any regularity is out the window (though actually, if you count this adoption-related post from May as a “mommy update,” which it basically is, then I guess I am still hitting the six-month mark). But it’s my birthday, and what better celebration than to write about ME!

I don’t think I’ve had a lot of epiphanies about my own parenthood lately. The extroversion/introversion thing still kind of sums up my biggest struggle with parenting. Addison wants to talk 24 hours a day; I want at least 6-7 hours of silence every day. You do the math. On Wednesday, I left her in the car for about 30 seconds while I ran in for something. When I came back out she said earnestly, “You know, Mom, being alone is no fun at all.” I’m trying to sympathize, but it’s hard to understand when, clearly, being alone is like in the Top 5 best things EVER! My delightfully extroverted friend Victoria is my go-to source for a window into Addison’s psyche.

Speaking of Victoria, I could not adequately update you on the last several months of my life without her figuring into it prominently. See, she did this really crazy, wonderful thing, which was to fly me and Addison out to visit her house for a few weeks in June. And while I was there she got up with Addison (and her girls) every single morning so that I could sleep in and not get too worn out.  And THEN, if that wasn’t crazy enough, in October she flew me up to our other grad school friend Emily’s house for a week, this time without Addison. Emily was about the most gracious hostess imaginable, letting us scatter our stuff all over, eat her food, and keep her up entirely too late talking. But oh, it was grand! I love these women and their generous hearts, which translate into truly generous actions!

I don’t think I realized how much I missed adult-only conversation with girlfriends until these two trips. I have made some good friends in the years since  Addison was born, but in most instances, our interactions have been limited to times that there were also kids swirling around. Part of further understanding my own brand of introversion is recognizing that conversations with kids around, though enjoyable, usually don’t rise to the level of soul-feeding for me — partly because it’s hard to go in depth into some of the things I enjoy exploring (faith and doubt, women’s issues, identity, relationship dynamics) when you could get interrupted at any moment and partly because I am sensitive to environmental noise (which never stops when Addison’s around). (Sidenote: if you’re interested in introversion, read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Intriguing doesn’t even begin to express it!)

The topic of friendship has been on my mind a lot, actually. I felt I was a little slow to make new friends in our last location; I even started to wonder if somehow my ability to make friends had eroded over the years. I have known I was an introvert for a long time (reading Quiet actually made me realize how interconnected some of my most cherished personal traits are with my introversion), but at the same time, I have always had a number of deep friendships. And I still do, but most of those are long distance these days, and I was starting to worry that for some reason I had lost my edge in really connecting with people. Which is why the “girls’ week” I spent was such a godsend; I remembered  that I can connect with people — some previous ability had not suddenly been lost. I just need to contemplate how best to meet my social needs in light of my physical limitations, work and parenting responsibilities, and new location. I need to determine my “personal social balance” and then act to make it happen. (I’ve taken your comment to heart, Alysa.)

Speaking of the new location, for all my excitement about creating our new life in the mountains and the spiritual promptings I received that this was the right place for us to be, it hasn’t been the smoothest transition for me. About the time Addison stopped telling us that she just couldn’t take it here and settled into life in the mountains (which corresponded with her making friends in the area — shocking, right?), I started moping around the house (or rather, in bed) saying I couldn’t take it here.  The weather got chilly and with no heat in the house we were routinely going to sleep and waking up in 50 degree or lower temperatures. This triggered some Fibromyalgia flare-ups including one night of some of the most intense pain I’ve had in a couple of years. Not to mention the persistent don’t-leave-the-house-for-a-week, even-thinking-about-leaving-the-house-makes-me-want-to-cry fatigue. I am holding out hope that this is still fallout from the moving process, but I have begun to worry that the altitude and weather here are going to take a major toll on my health. Needless to say, this health situation has put a bit of a damper on achieving that personal social balance — it’s surprisingly hard to make new friends from bed. (I just need one of my preexisting friends to come live next door — come on, guys, who’s it gonna be?) On the flip side, it’s been great for my reading as I joined a Facebook-based book group and tackled Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (UH-MAZING! Read it. Like yesterday.), Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person (thought-provoking in teasing out different psychological traits), and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane (definitely sucked me in, which is saying something for a nonfiction reader like me).

The other thing that’s put a damper on my first couple months “on the mountain” has been financial stress. After taking a leap of faith to rent this house in July (which was a bit more expensive than what I initially wanted — $875/month vs. some other places we considered in the $600 range), weeks went by and I still only had one teaching contract for Fall semester. I was sweating it until late August when I received not only a second teaching contract but a “promotion” (I put it in quotes just for you, Neal) to a supervisor over other online instructors. Yet even with that small income boost, our monthly expenses still exceed our income, not to mention all the additional one-time costs of setting up a new house (did you know you needs pots? Like to cook anything at all. Annoying, right?). I’ve felt the stress of being the sole financial provider in a huge way, and it’s manifested itself in ways that I have not typically experienced — forgetfulness, confusion, lack of focus, spontaneous crying outbursts (I know, I know, I cry all the time, but that is almost always sympathetic crying — it’s like the difference between tearing up at a Hallmark commercial and tearfully hyperventilating over a meeting being rescheduled). This level of stress and the physical manifestations of it really caught me off guard.

Luckily, things are looking up! (Thank goodness, or this would be a real downer of a birthday post.) Our heater was fixed on Thursday and I’ve been mentally weighing the relative costs of heating the house vs. moving again — needless to say, I’m typing this in a balmy 65 degrees! I’m at the tail end of a cold and hoping that with no major trips planned in November (I also went to Idaho in the last couple of months for work), my fatigue will start to let up as well. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I have to sing Neal’s praises just a little bit because despite the fact that we worked out a pretty detailed schedule of when we would each care for Addison (8-3 Neal; 3-6 me; 6-7:30 together), I have complied with the schedule exactly 0 times in the last two and a half months . . . and he hasn’t even freaked out about the lack of routine. He’s been more sympathetic to and flexible with my inability (unwillingness, sometimes) to get out of bed than I ever would have expected, based on his total preoccupation with schedules. The mountains must agree with him. Hopefully, I’ll start to agree with them, too.

January 27, 2013

The past and the future

Has it really been a month since I blogged? Yes, yes it has. And that month has been kind of insane:

A whirlwind trip to Utah to see Neal’s youngest brother, Skylar, after he returned from Spain (on a mission) and before he headed to Jerusalem (on a study abroad). It was a Call reunion of sorts. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots, including this one of Addison and Skylar getting reacquainted after two years.

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And no trip to Utah would be complete without a visit to Addison’s “nice Grandma.”

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A two-day getaway to check out the place that Neal and I are thinking of calling home in the near future.

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Addison getting as sick as she’s ever been in her life, which, admittedly, is not that sick because she’s got something of an iron immune system, but involved some vomiting (again on my mother — have I mentioned that she has thrown up, or “gived up” as she is now calling it, on me and Neal only once in her life, but my mom about 7 or 8 times?) and diarrhea that made her sob (more out of confusion than anything else; I think she’s just used to pushing for days to get stuff out).

A Relief Society lesson (me). An Elders Quorum lesson (Neal). A couple of Activity Days. Another “viral” comic — Neal keeps telling me the Man-Cold is no joke, but 644 people (mostly women) who shared it on Facebook beg to differ.

Man-Cold

Teaching 90 students in my two classes with one of them sending me daily emails about how she is NOT LEARNING and bored and unmotivated (all direct quotes, from the SECOND week of class. Seriously?). Our Larson family Christmas, culminating in a week of having my two nieces stay with us so that we could take them to Disneyland (annual pass officially expired, just in time, since Tuesday’s Disneyland adventure culminated in a migraine and vomiting for me).

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Phew.

I’m tired.

But not as tired as I thought I might be and I’ve got a one-hour massage to look forward to on Friday.

This week with my nieces was instructive about what the future holds. Ayda is four and gave me the opportunity to hone my parenting skills before Addison gets there. For example, while watching Mulan, in particular the scene where Mushu talks about her “girly habits,” we had this conversation:

Ayda: Tia, what does habits mean?

Me: Habits are acts that you perform regularly.

Ayda: What does perform regularly mean?

Me: To do something continually.

Ayda: What does continually mean?

Me: It’s like . . . something you do every day, like brushing your teeth or combing your hair.

Ayda: Okay, but I’m trying to listen to the movie.

Note to self: Think of examples, not synonyms.

Double note to self: Don’t talk over jokes about biting butts; apparently that’s comedy gold to a 4-year-old.

It feels good to capture that little bit of what we’ve been up to. Although I have no idea what my blogging future holds, I did receive what I wanted from Neal for Christmas (after only 17 reminders!), so there should be at least a few more blog posts coming your way!

Up next: Forgiveness and restorative justice.

November 2, 2012

Mommy update: 33 years

I have typically only written a “mommy update” in conjunction with a “baby update” chronicling her stats and latest tricks. But we’re at that age now where there aren’t a lot of new, easy-to-track physical skills (unless you count flicking, which we just discovered she could do this morning). And we only go to the doctor for measurements once a year so I’ve got nothing on that since February. I have been recording changes in her language, but it’s too scattered to form a legit update. Still, I have been noticing some changes in my experience as a mother over the last couple of months and I wanted to record that. My birthday seemed like a good occasion since, you know, I’m growing up!

The last time I reflected on motherhood, just after Addison turned two, I talked about some breakthroughs, about things getting easier, about enjoying Addison’s company more, and deciding to be “all-in” as a stay-at-home mom. Soon after I wrote that post a couple of friends pointed out that my definition of stay-at-home parenting does not necessarily conform to the commonly accepted definition. This is a fair response, so I had always planned to clarify what stay-at-home parenting looked like for us. Our care-taking schedule looked like this last winter:

  • Wake-up to 1:00 pm — Neal
  • 1:00 to 7:00 pm — Me
  •  7:00 pm — Bedtime routine all together
  • Night wakings — Neal

I know six hours of primary responsibility for my daughter is a far cry from what most stay-at-home mothers do, but for me, that’s the big time! Even so, I was mostly describing an internal shift I was experiencing. Although I’m not one to pass graphic quote displays around the internet, the last couple of sentences of this one really sums up that internal shift:

Thank you, Pinterest, for helping me find this quote.

Points off for misattribution of the quote — actually written by Rachel Jankovic — and misspelling Neil L. Andersen’s name TWICE.

(You guys, I know I shouldn’t even be saying this, but I kinda hate Pinterest — like total, only slightly rational HATRED. I dream of writing whole blog posts about this hate but I probably shouldn’t since I’m pretty sure I would lose some friends. And I love you guys (!), even if you love Pinterest. That includes Neal who joined Pinterest despite my persuasion, but apparently wrote on his bio that he’s married to a “great woman” to placate me.)

But I digress (you see what Pinterest does to me). That internal shift I experienced was all about deciding that right now motherhood is “what God gave me time for.” I still think about getting a PhD and writing a book about the economic socialization of incarcerated people (I’ve even written an outline, peeps), and I believe that later I will feel that those are also the things that God gave me time for. But right now it is this mothering thing, this thing that is simultaneously so difficult and so joyful. Motherhood is the greatest paradox in my life.

Nine months later, this shift in perspective is still intact. Despite the fact that every few weeks I think about applying to PhD programs, volunteering with a literacy program in the local jail, or working with a prisoner letter-writing group, I remind myself that now is not the time. Keeping my focus almost solely on my family is what God gave me this time for.

Though that perspective has stayed the same since February, other things have changed. I got a part-time job teaching online. My neck stopped working for a couple of weeks. Addison and I spent a week in Utah without Neal and she almost pushed me right over the edge — that whole enjoying Addison’s company was in serious jeopardy for a time this summer. The combination of these things and their residual effects necessitated a change in our care-taking schedule:

  • Wake-up to 4:00 pm — Neal
  • 4:00 to 7:30 pm — Me
  •  7:30 pm — Bedtime routine all together
  • Night wakings — Neal

Three-and-a-half hours a day as the primary caretaker. That’s not much. But seriously, most days it is all I am physically capable of. Yesterday Neal had some writing projects to finish and so we switched blocks and I was on until 4:00. Things were going swimmingly — we ate breakfast (I made it! well, I mixed a couple of things in with yogurt anyway), read books, went for a walk (outside the house!), stopped in at the neighborhood library, bought a 99-cent pumpkin, painted said pumpkin, took a bath — until about 2:00 pm when I was DONE. My joints were aching, my head, neck, and back were throbbing. I needed to lay down in the worst way, and I craved absolute silence while I did so. (Silence is hard to come by in Addison’s presence.)

In most areas of my life, I have long since accepted my physical limitations, but this parenting thing is hard. I can’t ask a two-year-old like her to sit still or quietly lay next to me for any lengthy period of time (well, that’s not true I ask her all the time; she just seems physically and temperamentally incapable of it). I know kids learn by play and she desperately wants me to play with her; as much as she loves Dora the Explorer, she would choose me any day of the week. But I just can’t half the time. And the other half the time, I can only do it in short bursts. Over lengthier periods of time, my physical pain wears down my emotional reserves and I lose patience. We had one of those moments yesterday. I snapped at her harshly because she was not cooperating. She looked up at me immediately, a cross between wounded and curious. In that moment, I was not the mother she recognized, one who is usually calm and focused even when I’m disciplining her. My nerves were frayed in a very physical way, creating emotional consequences that I knew were not caused by any egregious behavior on her part.

Does this sound depressing? It’s meandered into that territory more than I was expecting. See, the changes I was planning to write about are these:

  1. I honestly do love my time with Addison more than ever.
  2. I’m beginning to see the future wherein some of my most stimulating conversations happen with her, instead of in the hours I can get away from her.

A connection between the two, you think?

In early October, October 6th to be exact, Addison asked us, “What does dead mean?” (In fact, you can watch her asking it on film and clarifying what she means if you’re so inclined.) I fumbled around a little for a kid-friendly definition, trying to explain the differences between the body and the spirit, and where the spirit goes after death. (Spirit prison may have come up briefly — I just can’t help myself!) I have never known very much about when kids start to do certain things, understand certain concepts, etc. but this death question seemed like a fluke to me. I really didn’t think she was actually pondering the concept of death at two-and-a-half. But every couple of days, she would ask again. There would be follow-up questions. “How do you get dead when you get hurt?” “Get sad when you get dead?” It was all very disarming both because of the timing  and because I previously thought that kids don’t really know or do anything that interesting until at least 5 or 6. In these conversations, we covered injury, incapacitation, old age, and various conceptions of the afterlife. I might also have referenced an NPR story in which a woman who was thought to have experienced total and profound brain death turned out to be primarily deaf, blind, and dumb, but still very much alive and coherent. (Just so you know, if you face a similar conversation, it’s probably too soon for brain death and life support decision-making. Lesson learned.)

Just a few days before that particular conversation, I was having another one with my old roommate Em as we drove from the funeral to the airport. We were discussing our questions about what comes after this life, what it all means, and how it all works. The conversation with Em was different than with Addison, but I could sense how much closer I am to these genuinely thought-provoking conversations with Addison than I realized. Soon she will have her own ideas to share about the afterlife and why people get sad when they get dead. I can see that the process of trying to explain what I know in terms a child can understand will be a continual challenge, but one of the most effective routes for my own personal growth that I can think of. I have a feeling too that as Addison begins to explain things to me, I’ll experience moments of clarity about topics that I have long pondered. Thus far her temperament, personality, and ways of interacting with the world are so different from mine that I cannot help but see with new eyes.

A while back, my good friend Nikki posted an update on Facebook, talking about how when people talk about how hard parenting is, it scares her off before she can hear their eventual “but”s and qualifications. I’m certain I’m one of these friends that has scared her. Oops. Some of the replies to her post were along the lines of, it’s not as hard as people say. Well, it is for me. It’s very hard. It challenges me far, far more than a PhD program ever could. I know this. I’m constantly torn, trying to distinguish between the things I just can’t provide for her and the things I can but would rather not (like having conversation #50 about why Gaston is so mean to the Beast when I would much rather be lost in my own more interesting thoughts). I don’t think that’s ever going to change completely — being torn is part of who I am as a person, so it was bound to be part of who I am as a parent. But it is getting easier. And more interesting. And more fun. And, of course, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I feel almost too privileged that this is what God gave me this time for.

My favorite lunch date

My favorite library date

My favorite bum

October 28, 2012

Luxury items: Neal

Filed under: Chronic illness, Family, Lindsay loves Neal, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 12:52 pm

It’s 3:00 am and I’ve woken up sick. There were some little inklings that I might be headed this direction, like when I laid down and couldn’t get up for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Or when I thought I might vomit just before I got in bed. But otherwise, I have a lot of things planned this week and had no intention of spending half the night awake and green and trying very hard not to lose everything I ate yesterday.

But while I do those things, I’ve been thinking of Neal. How lucky am I to know that tomorrow morning when Addison wakes up ready to grab another day by the horns and beat it into submission — or at least make it clap for her constantly —  I can still stay in bed and nurse this sickly body? I won’t have to explain to Neal what to do with her, what to feed her, how to dress her for church, or what to pack in the diaper bag. I learned what a luxury all that is two summers ago at a book group where more than a few women were bemoaning the fact that they could not leave their husbands alone with the kids without returning to dirty, naked children, piles of food on the floor, and kitchen cupboards left open (Neal sometimes does that one). It’s both a luxury and a choice, but today I’m focused on the luxury.

I cannot imagine a better father than Neal. He’s so mild and calm and sensitive. I’ve had to encourage him to develop a stern-parent voice (cause you’ve gotta have one of those with a kid like Addison on the loose), but I’m grateful that in the now 8 years I’ve known him I’ve heard only two harsh things escape his mouth (neither of which were directed at me or Addison). His ability to stay calm under pressure has been no small feat over the last week as Addison inexplicably forgot how to fall asleep and STAY asleep (because, really, the mere falling asleep is USELESS to us!). I don’t think I could have stayed as good-natured while Addison pitifully explained to me over and over again, “But I don’t know how to sleep” at 1:00 am.

Of course, sometimes Neal and I have our differences in terms of parenting practices. Like last week when I heard Addison banging something against her gate in protest of quiet time. It turned out to be the thermometer. The thermometer we bought just the day before to see how high her temperature had gone. When I took it away, she was inconsolable, sobbing, “But daddy gave it to me. Daddy GAVE IT TO ME,” which I knew could not possibly be true. Except that it was. He dutifully explained to her that he had made a mistake in giving a two-year-old a brand new, expensive (defined as anything over $10 in our house) thermometer to attempt to crush against walls and various other surfaces. But what I loved most was when he came back into our room and said, “Did you see how I didn’t throw you under the bus there? ‘Cause I could have.” I love that we share an underlying vision of how we want to raise our daughter and rule number 1 is don’t throw each other under the bus. Rule number 2 involves bringing Jawas into the conversation as often as possible.

From Raised by my daughter, of course

In short, I adore my Neal. The way I can depend on him, every moment of every day. The way he’s gotten a teeny-tiny bit more flexible about our schedule changing at a moment’s notice, even though he is almost certainly hard-wired against said flexibility. The way he reflects on parenting by drawing stick figures in his spare time. Life is just so much better with him by my side.

September 4, 2012

Metablogging and money guilt

[That’s right, blogging about my blogging again.]

I have only written a handful of posts on my personal finance blog since introducing it in June. Still, it’s about what I was planning on — tracking our income, deconstructing our budget, and explaining our lifestyle choices. In that vein, I recently wrote a post about “the why” behind some of our choices per the suggestion of Alysa. It’s about “money guilt” — and by the way, I’m DYING to hear more thoughts/opinions/experiences/non-experiences on the topic! — and after I was done writing, I felt so relieved to have finally recorded some of those childhood experiences that have loomed surprisingly large in my life.

But then I thought, this is really part of my personal history; it ties into so many of the things that I’ve been working on recording like therapy and childhood memories. And I wished instead that I had written it on this blog. And then I bemoaned the fragmentation that seems to so easily creep into our lives.

But of course, it’s not a big deal (I just have nothing else to think about at 1:00 am); I could just post a link on this blog when I feel like something hits on the more personal aspects of personal finance. Or I could cross-post them. Really, I can do whatever I want since they’re my blogs, though I’m less inclined to cross-post since the 6 people that read Chronically Ill Finances also read this blog.

This leads to another silly problem that has frustrated me on the blogging front in recent weeks. A few friends have asked me to post a link to my personal finance blog on my sidebar, perhaps even updating when there’s a new post. That sounded easy enough since I’ve done a similar thing on Neal’s blogs. What I discovered, however, is that when I inserted a sidebar link, WordPress was resetting my entire sidebar, wanting me to design it from scratch. And that is just not my thing. In case you can’t tell, aesthetics have played a very minuscule role in my blogging tenure. I have had the same theme since maybe 2009 and I haven’t customized anything — just let it do its (boring) thing. The idea of tweaking my sidebar or layout or color scheme just doesn’t excite me in the least. So, no automatically updating sidebar link.

But last night at 1:00 am I finally had a productive thought. I could add a page with a blog link to my sidebar. It’s not quite as smooth, but if you do ever want to hop over to my personal finance blog, it will only be a couple of clicks away. (Or one click if you’re reading this post.)

[End metablogging.]

August 27, 2012

A neck sequel, shorter

My mom called me from work to ask how my neck was doing. “Pretty good,” I said, surprising even myself. But then I remembered I had already taken two pain pills, so I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised.

My neck is definitely much improved from early last week, but unfortunately, it’s still causing me a ton of pain. I’m trying not to be disagreeable, which last night meant that instead of moaning to subtly try and wake Neal, I quietly left the room, grabbed a bag of Cheetos, and turned on Masterpiece Classic (I’m watching Little Dorrit for the first time — anyone seen it?). A bag of Cheetos at 1:00am (well after bedtime teeth-brushing) is about rock bottom for me — that’s how seriously I take dental hygiene.

I just can’t seem to get a handle on this new neck situation. It’s different, opposite in many ways. Left side instead of right. Throbbing/pulsing every 4-5 seconds versus a more dull, consistent ache. Feels better after sleep whereas usually my pain has been worst in the morning. Feels worse after walking.

There’s a few upsides though, for Neal:

  1. We’re finally at the problem-solving stage. (Ever since I taught Marriage Enhancement and read Fighting for Your Marriage, I have been adamant about separating problem discussion from problem solution, i.e. Neal, a problem-solving junkie, has to demonstrate that he has listened to and sympathized with my discussion of the problem before he can start throwing out potential solutions or experimenting with his own brand of treatment.)
  2. I’m much more tolerant of Addison watching TV than I usually am (as evidenced by her watching Mulan FIVE times last week).
  3. I have been willingly taking pain meds and sleeping pills, which is always a dream come true for Neal.

And for me:

  1. Masterpiece Classic guilt-free!
  2. Having a legitimate reason not to leave the house.
  3. Sympathy kisses from Addison — I definitely don’t take those for granted!
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