Friday, May 28, 2010

Diarrhea (or, it's 1030 am and can I start drinking?)

My dear friend Ailey inspired me to write a post, but I'm going to have to put it off.

I'm trying to not feel too sorry for myself here.  I was looking forward to having the morning to myself at the dojo after dropping Scott at school.  I'd have the first real chance to do some writing in several days.

Because I started the job.  I'm working for the man.  In this orientation period I'm largely shielded from the stressful aspects of home health.  I won't even be going on home visits with therapists/nurses for a while.  Instead I've sat in the middle of the office warren with a computer monitor working my way through an online course on hepatitis.

The office culture swirling around me is pleasant.  I think this will work out ok.

Due to Scott's school schedule (half days only on Fridays) I'll work a 4 day a week schedule, with Fridays off.  So this morning's plan was to take him to school, and nip over the dojo for a few hours until pick-up time.

I'd be just gathering up my stuff right now to fetch him, had things gone to plan.  He woke me at at 4:30 this morning to tell me there was "some diarrhea in the bed."

Two weeks ago we had the nausea and vomiting.  The advice nurse said the vomiting should be tapering off in a few days and the trots could go two weeks.  We had daily diarrhea, with some lapses and relapses, ending the Wednesday before last.  He's been in school since then.

This Wednesday it was Connor, the morning after the Dinner From Hell. (Subject, perhaps, of another post)  It appears to be short lived, with his return to school Thursday.  But the intermittent nature of the symptoms keeps me from counting on it, and I may have doomed myself with the phrase "short lived".

Witness this morning.  After the first wake-up Scott was in the bathroom two more times, excreting copious amounts.  I sighed and weighed the options.  He was entirely chipper, talkative even--way too talkative--and didn't seem sick.  I remembered the advice nurse's...advice...that he could go to school as long as he had enough bowel control to get to the bathroom and was under about 3 movements a day.  Well, we'd had three already so we were in a gray area.  I made the call to keep him home and he hasn't had a movement since.

Gary said bye bye and went to a meeting, or a series.  Said he'd be late.  Left me with a child who's bouncing off the walls.  A child I feel duty-bound to insist upon educational activities as opposed to video games or videos on You Tube.    And that means I have to enforce it.

He held up his end of the bargain and read a couple books online and took quizzes afterward.  So I let him play with the computer for a while.  He's waiting for me to read to him from "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" right now, while playing the piano in such experimental ways I can't think straight.

Hence the Delayed Post.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflections on my last days as an at-home mother

Another step down the path:

Make decision       check
inform husband     check

long latency
lo-o-o-ong latency

look for work     check
apply for jobs     check
inform sons        (sigh) check
obtain job and start date     check
husband's trip corresponds with trial run for rotation     check
3 nights at friend's home to complete trial run for separate living rotation   check

Remaining to do:

1st day at work
formally begin separate living rotation 3 nights on, 3 off
get established in this rhythm
find another place (rather than doing rotation at a friend's)
take care of legal details of divorce

This morning I'm very conscious that this is my next-to-the-last morning to wake as an at-home mother. 

Child development research posits 9 temperamental characteristics.  Among other things these affect the ease with which transitions are made.  I approach the boundary from one life into the next.  The circle of my at-home-mom life has already intersected the circle of work-out-of-the-home-mom life, the shadow of the latter looming over the (soon to be) former.  Transitions aren't easy for me; I don't negotiate them gracefully.

Already one of my feet is in the working world, and I feel longing for the world of at-home mom. Yet the longing is tinged with irony because I appreciated at-home-momming most when my kids were in school so I could be alone.  I regret that I didn't enjoy my children, and their presences more when I was home full time.  I regret that I wasn't better at that job.

As companion to this regret I also feel sorrow in surrendering my alone time for professional life.

My hope is that my solitary reflection and writing time has served its purpose.  I thought my alone time was to help me to recover from the demands of children in the context of an unhappy and unsupportive marriage.  I thought the purpose was to have some uninterrupted thinking time to consider if my unhappiness was my fault.  I thought the purpose was to write my pain and name it so it was more bearable.  In all these ways my alone time has served me.

But it's done more.  It has enabled me to discern the shape of the Pattern that has been at the core of my life, and present from the beginning.  It's a Pattern that has required my participation, which I ably gave in the form of self-doubt.  I had to doubt myself and my own visceral feelings, intuitions in order to stay in service to the pattern.  At one time the pattern served to keep me in subjection to authority, and religion reinforced the bonds.  It probably served a survival function at a time when displeasing adults could be harshly punished,  yet persisted beyond its usefulness..  Once it was a strategy to keep me in line when I very much needed to stay in  line:  I was very afraid of pain.  If my feelings and intuitions conflicted with the demands of others it was dangerous to maintain my truth.  If I could poison the well of my own truth, by accusing it of being selfish, self-serving, stupid, or just plain WRONG, then it was easier to submit.  Sadly the strategy became habitual, and became a part of me.  Some form of it has manifested in nearly every area of my life and my marriage is its current embodiment.  The only way I can continue in this marriage is by continuing to poison my own well, doubting the legitimacy of my feelings and intuitions.  To stay in this marriage, I stay in Pattern.  And I say no to Pattern.

Perhaps to uncover these insights, and use them as a basis for decision, has been the reason for the hunger for so much time alone.  Perhaps I no longer need this solitary time and it has served its purpose.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bad mom; or life, other plans, blah blah

I am so unsuited to have a child who has adhd.  A child who has adhd needs a mother who is an extrovert, who doesn't feel drained by demands on her time.  He needs a mom who can readily drop a task orientation and smell the (goddamn) roses, because such a child is unable to move from one moment to the next without smelling the (g..d...) roses.  I should be appreciating his outside-the-box world view and his capacity to be charmed by details I wouldn't ordinarily notice.  Instead my first response is impatience, frustration, and to feel just plain harried as we try to move through a day.  I worry a lot that I give Scott way too many "it's-not-ok-to-be-me" messages.  I'm sure he gets lots of such messages, even in the progressive school he attends.

I'm ashamed to say that I welcome school days and tend to dread holidays.  Sick days are like being robbed. Sick days that involve vomiting and diarrhea are just plain unfair.  This child is not docile and compliant when he's sick.  His activity level isn't appreciably diminished. 

Phase one of the Dry Run was completed late Sunday night.  This was to be The Demonstration to the boys of what we hoped the next few years of their lives would look like with Gary and I apart.  The hope is that if we can do it right, their lives won't feel a whole lot different than Gary gone on a business trip and then me gone on a weekend with the girls.  Gary was in Asia for about 10 days and I planned to go stay with Marti for a few days upon his return Sunday night.  Ideally I'd have left Monday night, but out of the goodness of my heart decided to give Gary a chance to get over jet-lag first.  So I decided Wednesday would be the day.  I'd take Scott to school as usual, and Gary would be responsible for pick-up, then all of the childcare until I returned sometime on Saturday.  Then we'd have to get serious about finding another place.

By the way, since we've told the boys that Gary and I will be separating, the atmosphere around here has been largely positive.  The boys have been getting along (knock on wood) pretty well, with Connor much more tolerant of Scott, and Scott openly affectionate with Connor.  He's been much less inclined to do things to deliberately annoy, and Connor's been less ready to be annoyed.  If anything, this seemed improved in Gary's absence.

Friday morning last week I was looking forward to one last day alone in the house before Gary's return.  On the ride to Scott's school I started hearing ominous sounds from the back seat.  Hastily I grabbed the litter bag and thrust it behind at him.  Clearly I couldn't take him to school, and did a big pivot to take him home.

The rest of the day he seemed fine, and I thought maybe the morning episode had been a fluke.  In the afternoon he began having diarrhea.  By evening I started to take it seriously.  At midnight I was awakened to wretching and the glorious dilemma of both ends erupting at once.  This involved a linen change and emergency laundering.  He was up again at 5 a.m. saying he'd "diarrhea-ed" in his boxers.

Then he was fine all day Saturday.  I regretted having called and canceled his piano lesson.  He slept through Saturday night with no incidents.  He kept food down just fine.  Sunday afternoon he began to complain of a sick stomach and Sunday evening began to vomit.  So much for school next day.  He was home Monday and I was fully on duty as Gary slept off his jet lag.  As I've said, illness doesn't diminish Scott's desire for entertainment, and I'd resolved that if he was too sick for school, he was too sick for TV and video games.  And though he returned to school without incident yesterday, last night he was in the bathroom too many times to count and vomited a small amount this morning.  There's no question he's home again today.

Here's the exhausting part:   he goes into the bathroom, diarrhea; he gets up, I remind him (again) to keep his hands away from his face until he’s washed them—sometimes I have to remind him several times and I start to get angry, or at least very irritated because sometimes his hands are going up around his mouth even as I’m reminding him; he wipes, I remind him to not use such huge wads of toilet paper because a clogged toilet and plumber are NOT sweet thoughts…sometimes he stands up and then has to sit back down again, and sometimes he’s up and washing his hands (me reminding him to (1) wet his hands FIRST   (2) apply soap  (3) wash between his fingers  (4) THEN rinse—because his tendency is to put a bunch of soap in his hands but then put it under the running water thus rinsing it away before he has a chance to use it to clean his hands—(5) then dry)—he’ll get all that done and then have to sit down again:  sometimes this will happen 3 or 4 times in just one sitting.  And then the next sitting is within 10 or 15 minutes.

This has called into question The Plan for The Demonstration which was supposed to launch today.  Sure, it might be instructive for Gary to be responsible to care for a child who is running at two openings at once, possibly for several days on end.  Sure I really want a break from parenting in these conditions.

BUT, the purpose of The Demonstration is also to show the boys that their lives aren't going to feel much different.  Throwing Gary to the wolves, so to speak, may not be the wisest thing to do, given that objective.

I'd hoped I'd spend my last week as a stay-at-home-mom in contemplation and writing.  It's been 10 and a half years, so this really marks the end of an era.  I signed the letter accepting the offer of a home health company yesterday.  Orientation day is Wednesday next week.  I'll begin with 24 hours a week and transition to full time with benefits once the summer is done.  I guess it's ironic that I'll spend my last days as an at-home mom, really being an at-home mom.

Coincidentally I had breakfast with some of my former co-workers from nearly 13 years ago.  We'd worked together for at least 10 years.  The company we worked for was sold, sold again, and yet again.  It's owned now by a huge national chain.  Many of my co-workers have retired.  It feels...odd to be reentering a field at an age when many of my contemporaries are retiring.  But that's nothing new.  I did start having my kids at an age when most of my contemporaries were seeing their offspring graduate from college, or even start having grandchildren.