Up Hill All the Way

I’m lucky enough to have found some communities of parents where honesty is considered a virtue, and the bullshit expectations of parenthood (or, really, motherhood, if we’re being honest) are called out. Where people are encouraged to be vulnerable and name the things that are hard. (If you want to know about these groups, I am happy to recommend them – just let me know.)

That doesn’t mean I’m immune to the flood of cultural expectations telling me how I should feel about being a mom. Those ideas are inside me from years of hearing them and seeing them and unintentionally enforcing them. The problem with bullshit cultural ideals is that we live in the midst of them – it’s impossible to fully escape them or even understand just how insidious they are.

So while I think I have some support when I say, “some days recently I wish I wasn’t a parent,” I also still feel like an awful person. When I admit to myself that I spend all of the tiny moments alone in my mind either nostalgic for a simpler past or daydreaming about a different kind of present, I still think there is something wrong with me.

I know this is a season. Or maybe I just hope it is. Eventually the equation of difficult + wonderful will be contentment or satisfaction, or something like it. I won’t always feel like I’m walking up hill, in the forest, in pouring rain, wearing flip flops . . .with no summit in sight . . .right?

There are things to look forward to on my horizon, and I am grateful for that. But they don’t feel like changes to this slog, just perhaps a few (lovely, needed) time-outs from treading water. Sometimes those time outs seem like they will be enough to sustain me. But at other times, all I see is the endlessness of difficulty that come before, between and after.

I don’t know what to do. I have a therapist. She’s nice, and sometimes she has some ideas about things that I appreciate. But I don’t feel like she is or even can get at the deeper things I need to address. But finding a therapist, especially when the only way to have one at all is through your insurance (which, is awesome but also limiting), is a whole other somewhat hopelessly defeating endeavor. It is like dating but with no promise of getting laid at the end.

And the worst thing is how guilty I feel even entertaining these thoughts, indulging in my ennui bordering on depression. Because in so many ways, things are kind of . . .ok. We, for the first time since getting together, have enough money that we don’t really need to worry on a monthly basis about what we can afford. We have some very lovely friends. My job is good and really only a reasonable amount of hard or stressful. This is all true, and it coexists alongside my very real feelings of struggle. It’s not the big things that feel hard. It is all the tiny moments wrapped up into a string of frustration and failure and fatigue.

There isn’t a lot to do except keep going. Can’t go around it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go over it.

Gotta go through it.

What an absolutely wonderful welcome back, friends. I’m so glad to know there are still people out in the universe who care enough about a relative stranger to respond to their call into the void.

Some of you even recalled the things that were happening in our little corner of the world so long ago when last I wrote. So I figured I’d tie up some loose ends/provide some general updates:

  1. My health (aka why do I keep collapsing?): After the video EEG, I was referred to a sleep doc and completed a sleep study. That study showed that I had a decimal point’s more “apnea” episodes than the average person (did you know we all stop breathing while we sleep, just mostly only a couple of times?) which technically put me in the “undetermined” range but with the weird collapsing stuff too, they decided to put me on a CPAP. It took me months to be able to keep it on all night, and once I did I saw some improvement but not enough, so my doctor also put me on modafinil and that seems to have done the trick (?!) because I haven’t had an episode since. So I guess you can actually collapse and lose consciousness because you aren’t getting adequate sleep.
  2. Laurie got a job! After many months and a lot of interviews and busting ass writing resumes and cover letters, Laurie got an offer to be the education coordinator for the Rainbow Center in town. It’s 20 hours/week and pays $19/hour which isn’t bad. The office is only a few blocks away, which is nice, and the schedule is flexible. Is it her dream job? No. But life has improved vastly now that she is not stuck at home with our children for the entire day. Angus goes to daycare and while it took months for him to stop crying at daycare, he now adores going and it has done wonders for him as well. She has a couple of apps out for jobs that are closer to her dream (and full time, and better pay) but for now, this has been a great transition.
  3. We are now both legally the parents of our children. And the whole thing was relatively painless, even though I resent that we had to go through with it.
  4. My mom. Things are . . .complicated? Mostly ok? I don’t know. Most recently, her dentist saw a strange spot on her tongue during a routine check and referred her for a biopsy. It turned out she had an oral cancer (very likely caused by HPV – so vaccinate your damn kids for that too, ok?) They were able to remove the entire area and get all cancerous cells, and took one of her lymph nodes as well. She doesn’t have to go through radiation at all, which is wonderful. Right after her surgery, while recovering at home, she ended up getting a UTI and between that and severe dehydration (likely from not being able to eat properly + a bunch of other factors) she ended up having medication toxicity that caused a stroke and a bunch of other things. After a week + in ICU she recovered and is really back to normal now. But it was fucking terrifying for a while. They still seem weirdly resistant to coming to visit us in Washington, which hurts my feelings, but now she has suggested taking Me, L and the kids to the Disney resort in mother fucking Hawaii instead so . . .I guess that’s cool.
  5. Baby #3: No idea right now. Maybe, maybe not? I think a lot depends on how things continue with Ansel and if it feels feasible to add another being to our circus. We are planning to check in and evaluate in the fall, but who knows.

I think those are most of the pieces from the past, but let me know if you’ve been losing sleep over some other great unanswered question.

There are other, new things too:

  • I got a part time gig doing training for a national org. I’m in the middle of negotiating a rate, but it should give us some extra cash to work with.
  • Ansel recently told us “I feel like both a boy and a girl in my heart” and, after we explained what pronouns were, said they would like to use “they/them.” This is more challanging (in practice, not theory) than I would have anticipated. I LOVE that they were able to articulate this, and did so out of the blue. But I have so many well worn ruts of language and they just slip out. Once again, kids make us rethink and learn to live in new ways.
  • Things between L and I are hard. We haven’t really had a whole lot of hard in our relationship, which compunds things. I believe deeply in us and our relationship, so I know we’ll find a way out of this forest, but that doesn’t make it any less dark and daunting right now.
  • Ansel started ABA with our lovely friends and while it’s going SO well, they have also been SO tender and quick to frustration. Transitions are hard and this is adding a whole new layer. I feel dauntingly exhausted by life.