Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Driven with the wind and tossed

2016 has been the year I lost all sense of discretionary time.  24 hours somehow shrunk into tighter tidbits of never-enough, and with lower energy, more short people's needs to meet, and a backlog of bad habits unaddressed, I learned how to flail and flounder in long term pools of time. It's been a year of being uncomfortable and unsettled for so long that I found ways to be comfortable with the discomfort.

I planned for this year, or at least the first half of it, knowing that postpartum seasons can knock me off my feet.  Even my worst case scenarios had me in better shape by now, though.  That reality is even more discouraging than it sounds.

But the year has gone down as a series of heavy, invisible, emotional labors.  A year ago I muscled my thesis through the EDT approval process by the skin of my teeth (approved on the deadline day after weeks of rejections), I panicked to prepare for a new baby through the last month of my 5th pregnancy, and my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer less than 2 weeks before he was born. My dad had a job interview scheduled for the day of her double mastectomy, and well before she was recovered physically, let alone emotionally, he'd accepted a job out of state and we were looking at the leviathan job of moving my parents out of a 4,500 square foot house filled with 20 years worth of stuffing. Even when I haven't been physically present, it's been a persistent user of my brain's front-burner.

My children have all shown signs of the stress of accommodating my schooling and pregnancy and new baby by exhibiting consistent intervention-worthy attention seeking behaviors.  Our parenting has not risen to the challenge, and being a family in public places tends to leave Renn and I burning with shame.

I've grasped at straws for help improving our family dynamic and parenting styles, and hopefully also elevating the overall family rapport around here. After hitting some all-time-lows, Renn and I are both trying to adopt intentional habits and responses, and it is helping, but change is hard and slow and sticky.

Renn and I were both relatively easy on our parents as children.  Neither of us were the type to push boundaries or do much talking back.  We both figured out pretty early on that we preferred positive to negative attention, and frankly neither of us required an inordinate amount of attention in order to be content.  But we have these kids, who are eating our timid selves alive.  Actually that imagery doesn't work at all, there's nothing violent or malevolent about it, there's just an acutely felt inadequacy.  I don't have enough energy, enough force of personality, enough charisma to teach or convincingly affect behavior.  I'm just the tired lady in the corner that is easy to ignore unless you want something from her.

But I'm learning things.  Humbling things.  Humble humble humble humble things.

Mostly I'm learning how human humans are, despite our intentions toward infallibility, we cannot fill all of our cracks when the very act of acknowledging one is there brings a hundred more into view. Being a decent human, the sort willing to do the work of improving one's self, is the work of moving mountains.  It is seismic in scope and relentless as time itself. It takes all your air, all your time, all your intent, all your presumptions, all your identity, all your mistakes, and all of your heart.


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