Body check in (and kids)

I’m pleased to say that in general I’m sleeping better than I was for a long time there. It is unusual for me to wake up before 5am. Sometimes I sleep as late as 6! When Noah was gone and I stayed up later than usual with the kids I slept in till… 7:30. Whoa. That happens less than once a year.

Given that I usually go to sleep between 7 and 8pm that means I’m getting more sleep. This may contribute to me feeling somewhat more energetic. (I don’t feel like I’m up to my “normal” level of energy–I’m still slow and sluggish.) I’m catching up on chores I’ve been looking at for months. I go in cycles. I don’t do much for quite a while because I’m too tired. I stare at the things that bug me and I just… can’t do anything about them. I don’t really understand how much of this periodic exhaustion is depression vs. physical illness. It happens every so often to me. I wouldn’t say every year–it definitely isn’t an every single year issue, but it is recurring. I lose a bunch of weight then I feel so tired I can barely move for months. It takes months of recuperation before I feel “normal” again.

To be fair, this round of illness is being followed up with normal poop!! That’s a huge change! Sometimes I walk around the house singing about how happy I am to poop. My kids are going to be so weird.

Ok, having really solid poop is kind of bizarre. It feels… well… it feels like I’ve all of a sudden switched to anal sex being the main way I have sex. I feel just slightly abraded all the time. And having that feeling from pooping instead of sex is… kind of confusing to my body and brain. I’m really not sure how to interpret those signals. Because traditionally I learned to kind of like that feeling and liking the aftermath of pooping is WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD. It’s not like I go straight from the bathroom to masturbating, but it’s kind of a weird…. almost satisfied feeling.

Gross. Gross. Gross.

I am occasionally bordering on constipation! It IS a novel feeling! And given that I’m getting all the way to rabbit pellet firmness sometimes… that’s a pretty solid ruling out of food allergies!

What the fuck?! I mean, really? Why does my body vary so much. I went back to my “normal” diet. I’m eating the same stuff I used to eat and now I don’t have diarrhea and I have had for most of my life. I DON’T UNDERSTAND AND I FIND THIS INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING.

I had diarrhea for a week after the most recent break up. Now it has cleared up and I’m back to solid poop.

I’m in a fair bit of pain. Not just the arms. My shoulders and neck. I’m a lifelong reader. At this point I think that pain is all my own fault. My lower back has been acting up lately. My hips are enflamed like mad. If you casually run your hand down the outside of my thigh from the hip joint towards the knee I will react as if you touch me with a brand. It hurts.

I’m not over-exercising. I don’t think I’m under-exercising. I’m walking and running a few days a week. I do some weight lifting (not a lot) and I have a very physically active–lifting-things-heavy kind of life. I’m pretty sure I bought the wrong mattress like three years ago. It’s way too soft now and I think that contributes to my back hurting.

Of course my arms hurt. Of course.

As a test run for the road trip, having Noah gone worked well. The kids and I are capable of finding a rhythm without him. But boy howdy we miss Noah. The kids like and dislike the way I don’t cook as much. I didn’t even try to maintain our normal way of eating that Noah cooks. Not up for adding that much work to my plate. Noah is so nice to us. But between me doing some work and the kids doing more work than usual, we ate.

On the road I suspect we will do a lot more assembling food than cooking food. As far as I’m concerned Calli is way big enough to be doing that so we will be trading around food-prep duties. Shanna could cook several meals by Calli’s age. I haven’t been working with Calli as hard because Shanna interrupts and tries to take over. I’m not doing it all.

I went camping with friends a few years back. The wife does the vast majority of the work and they are ok with that deal. (Lots of reasons for it that they worked out between them–I don’t even quibble with the reasons.) I… I’m not ok with that deal. I can’t support my end of that deal. Standing very near that deal caused me to get upset emotionally and they will never camp with me again. I can’t be the mom who does everything. I don’t have that to give. I will end up crying and screaming and freaking out and being mean to everyone. I am neither physically nor emotionally up for that. Sometimes I wish I could. I feel like I am much more pathetic than my friends who can carry the load. But I can’t. I will explode. I will make everyone near me very miserable if I am expected to do everything for people who sit and watch me work.

I think that part of the difference with my kids compared to other adults: my kids don’t push me to keep working when I say I am done or I need a break. I don’t communicate as well with adults. I’m not blaming the adults. I don’t communicate very well. When I am with other adults, I feel like their expectations matter and I have to live up to them. With my kids… well… you get what I fucking have to give and that’s that. I have been much better about my language with the kids lately.

Recently I was in the car and I was frustrated and I started cursing and after the second curse word I switched to ‘crumbs’ and from the back of the car here comes Shanna, “Oh mom! You caught yourself! Good girl. I’m proud of you.” Twitch.

My kids have rather low expectations of me and I don’t know if that is good or bad. We talk very frankly about, “I’m doing my best. Sometimes my best is not going to be good enough. Sometimes you are going to feel frustrated or sad or angry because my best is SO COMPLETELY NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You get to feel upset about me not meeting your needs… but you need to know that sometimes I can’t. Either you figure out how to do it for yourself or you need to form a relationship with someone else to get that need met. I can’t do everything.”

I was at the park with friends recently. The other mom watched her kids the whole time. She was surprised that I wasn’t watching my kids. Shanna wandered off to where people had brought their hula hoops and she asked if she could play too. The other mom expressed concern about my kid just inviting herself into the play of random adults. Completely reasonable.

This is how our unschooling works. Shanna and Calli wander through life talking to whomever happens to be present and they pick up random skills. Shanna learned a lot about the hula hoop that I can’t teach her. I’m thrilled she got the chance. The people who were practicing didn’t mind her hanging out with them and asking questions. Most people seem to love sharing their random knowledge. Shanna is really good about knowing how to ask questions–she practices all the time.

I don’t believe in stranger danger. My life has depended on the kindness of strangers.

Instead I am close enough by that I kind of visually check-in every 15-20ish minutes. I don’t need to stand close by–if I can yell and get you to hear me then the leash extends out pretty long. In a museum we have to stand close to one another because mom isn’t allowed to scream. In a public park, I can project my voice loudly enough to be heard clearly across a football field. I’m completely comfortable with my kids exploring out to the range of where I can get their attention. If they hear their name faintly shouted from far away they turn and run. We’ve practiced. They miss hearing me less than 5% of the time. Usually when they don’t hear me it is obvious what happened to cause them to not hear me.

Strangely enough, they don’t get defiant about the end of the leash. They appreciate that I let them range so far and they know that if they mess with the leash I will pull them in closer and they hate that.

Kids behave how you expect them to behave, by and large. I expect my kids to be helpful, to listen, to be respectful, and to ask questions. I tell them over and over again, “If you see someone struggling with a hard job–offer help. If you stand and watch someone struggle with work you are a jerk-face. There are no shirkers in this family.”

We all come out of childhood with baggage. I lived in a house where only Auntie ever did any work. All the kids and Uncle Bob sat around watching her work. Made me crazy. I won’t fucking live like that. Auntie was actually fairly ok with it–about as ok with my friend who goes camping and is happy to do the work.

It is hard letting other people be ok with what they are ok with. I’m a judgy bastard. Even when I can understand the good reasons why person A does what they do I still want them to get more help. I project my desire for help onto everyone around me. Because I’m an asshole like that.

AND YET IF YOU SHOW UP AND OFFER TO HELP ME I WILL PROBABLY TELL YOU NO. Because I’m stupid. Because explaining how to help is often way more work than the work. Sigh.

I do recognize my idiocy and hypocrisy.

But I’m training my kids how to help. Because it is not more work than doing everything myself. It is WAY LESS WORK because they will be here for the long run. Teaching them how to help is an investment in the future. I’m fucking thrilled to teach my kids how to help.

I think we will handle the road trip and I think I am going to miss Noah like crazy. This may be the longest time I’m away from him for our whole marriage. I’m hoping. I hope I’m never away from him longer than that. If I weren’t going with the kids I wouldn’t be able to do it. The kids will help. The kids will be company. The company and emotional distraction is as much of a help as the fact that the kids will make me sandwiches. We are going to eat so many sandwiches. (The fact that I can put the kids at a table to make lunch while I set up camp is just AWESOME.)

appreciate my kids.

I do not want to teach my kids to be dependent recipients of work. I want them to walk into just about any situation and figure out how to be helpful. I’m great at doing this. My kids are going to pick up the skills too. If I have to beat it into them. (I’m KIDDING. I don’t hit my kids. My “beating something into their heads” just consists of endless repetition. I make up songs as we do stuff and I just sing the same fucking verse until my kids will be able to repeat my expectations of them in their sleep in many decades.)

And now both girls want some snuggles. ttfn.