Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Too Much

So we had our wine party on Saturday night and it was SO much fun and I love everyone who came and it was a total highlight of my month. I want very much to tell you about it and I think you should all host your own (and invite me if you're local), and I'm even tempted to do so and pretend everything in my week is as perfect as that party, but.

But.

This week has wrecked me. I drove home from work - early because I wasn't getting anything done anyway and the urge to crawl under my desk was too strong to ignore any longer - and wished for the first time in my life that I could go anywhere but home. I wanted to drive to an anonymous soulless hotel room, turn on the food network, take the hottest longest bath I could handle and curl up under the covers and ignore every single thing in my life besides covers and the sounds of someone else cooking food. Preferably British someones baking mysterious cakes with flavor combinations I don't understand. It's more soothing when it's British and the weird flavors don't make me hungry.

But I have children and responsibilities, so I didn't. I've never wanted to escape from my life before, but I think it says something about this week that my parents' sudden and random decision on Sunday to sell their Livingston lake house and my childhood home in Kingwood and buy another house is the least emotional thing weighing on me as I sit here not in my hotel room. I'm sad about it. I haven't lived in the Kingwood house for 15 years and have only visited a handful of times in the last decade, but every childhood memory I have is there. I learned how to ride my bike and had my first kiss on that driveway; got ready for all my first days of school, a million morning practices, prom, and my wedding in our little upstairs bathroom; ate thousands of family dinners in the kitchen; and walked in through the front door a thousand times more... I feel uprooted somehow, despite the fact that my roots have already proved to be quite portable. My childhood is more than a house; it's the memories in it and the foundation of confidence, love, and security I feel in my every day, and yet, all those memories are in that house.

I have feelings about it. Not everyone gets to return to their childhood home whenever they want and not everyone has purely happy memories when they get there. I do and I did and I won't get to go back anymore. I was taken aback by the intensity of my feelings about that. Like Miranda Lambert says, it's the house that built me. I know it was really the people and they're still here. But it's also the house and it won't be mine anymore.

~ ~ ~

Later on Sunday we found out James's dad is in the hospital, insensible and delirious, having violent outbursts, and suffering from late stage chronic hepatic encephalopathy as a complication from cirrhosis. He is unlikely to be lucid again.

James's parents are complicated and not a topic I'm going into, but as most readers know- they stopped talking to us in 2010 and we haven't seen them since May of that year, when I was pregnant with Claire and Landon was 2. He doesn't want to talk about it and for the most part, we don't.

We had to talk about it on Sunday. On Monday, he decided to call the hospital and his mom put his phone up to his dad's ear. "Hi dad," he said, for the first time in a long time.

"James. How's your swim meet?" his dad slurred.

"I'm sorry to hear you're sick."

"You need to go downstairs and let the dog out."

"...I wish things could have been different between us."

Silence.

And then his mom hung up the phone.

(He does not want to talk about it.)

~ ~ ~

On Tuesday, Landon started at a new counselor. This isn't bad, I'm very pro-counseling and, as we explained to Landon, no one knows everything about everything, not even your wise parents, and we should always seek out people who know more to help us. Teachers, swim lesson instructors, lawyers, and doctors- experts! And just like how we see a doctor for our body, we can also talk to one about our mind and our feelings. I don't know if it's just being 9 and having bigger feelings than he is used to or can handle- they're certainly bigger than we're used to or can handle- but over the last year or so Landon has had outbursts or tantrums that spiral completely out of control. His control and ours. It's not that often and it's never at school or with friends, but no one in our house has any idea what we're supposed to do with them when they do pop up- including him. So we're getting help on that. Tantrum prevention and management. This is good.

It still feels shitty to basically sit down with a third party and vocalize how wrong your parenting has been and how lost you are with your own child, but along with the fact that we want to do better for him, it's important to me that he sees that when we don't know, we get help, and he should too. It's okay to not know, and it's even better to get help to do better.

But fuck it was not a great week for it. Particularly since, as James described when they got home, his stomach dropped the minute Landon went back to talk to the counselor alone and he spent 45 minutes waiting for the police to be called because we both still have serious PTSD when it comes to new health authority figures talking with our children. Never mind that there is absolutely no grounds for that, and at 9 years rather than 2 months of age, Landon would be able to say that, I understood exactly what he meant (I had my only anxiety attack of my life when Landon had to get a stomach x-ray a few years ago and I blacked out in the doctor's office) and the haunting specter of the Chicago nightmare being back in my brain was nothing we needed this week.

~ ~ ~

And later on Tuesday, James and I had one of those things that isn't a fight, it's just calm steady talk, but somehow two hours later you're both wrecked and sitting there staring at each other like what the fuck just happened? This didn't even seem like a big deal when we started talking how can I feel like the floor just fell out from under me?

(The floor is back, we have a strong foundation (which wasn't meant to be a pun, but does kind of go with the theme), but holy hell, maybe no more talking about anything that could potentially touch on anything serious or emotional until next week. Neither of us have much to give at the moment.)

~ ~ ~

And so that's the week. Or at least the first few days of it, apparently it's only Wednesday. And it's not even all bad. It's just too much.

I'd already invited over my mama friends over to help me drink all the leftover wine from Saturday by turning it into sangria on Friday while our kids run amok in our back yard. The week is going to get improve, or we're just going to wait it out and watch it die, but it will end and I will be holding sangria when it does. I'm looking forward to it.

31 comments:

  1. Ugh - I'm sorry - what a tough week! I've been following your blog for a long time because my two kids are almost identically aged to your two - same genders, and I used to be a lawyer. My older one has been in therapy for over a year for similar reasons and we've recently had issues with our younger one as well. It's not easy. if there is a way to message you I will - to offer support, commiseration and maybe even a little advice. (((hugs)))

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  2. Oh LL. I'm so sorry, any one of these things would make for a shit week. I'm glad that you and James have each other and that the core of your family is so strong.

    I can relate deeply on the PTSD any time your present blunders into contact with your past. Personally, I have been considering a touch-up with my counselor after getting singed unexpectedly lately. It might help you and James as well to hear from a trusted outsider that you are safe, he is safe, the danger is behind you.

    You're not alone! Not for the PTSD or the outbursts. We're going through something similar as well and are similarly baffled and struggling. I'm sorry it's all happening at once. I'm an email away if you ever want to talk about it, especially that juncture of parenting with past trauma.

    <3

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  3. I'm so sorry. I know that feeling and it sucks. You're halfway through the week. You can make it.
    FWIW, we took E to a therapist when he was 7 for very similar reasons. Parenting smart, sensitive boys is really, really hard. The world isn't designed for them and it seems like they're frantically lost for a little while. Also, we're pretty strict and I think he appreciated having someone to talk to who wasn't us. Nice job, Mama.

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  4. As a long time reader needed to give you an internet hug for a week like that.
    And another internet hug for James, because that must have been just the worst phone conversation with his dad.
    You and he are such positive, strong people, but a week like that would knock the wind out of anyone.

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  5. I typed out a comment that disappeared into the ether - here goes round two.

    First and foremost, a virtual hug and squeeze. Imagine me handing you a glass of wine and sitting and listening to your troubles while murmuring supportive phrases, bc that's what I wish I could do for you right now. Sometimes it all just fucking falls apart, and that's when you need girlfriends with listening ears, big hearts, and the outsider perspective to say - yes, absolutely, I see clearly that this is the worst week ever and you're an absolute star for keeping it together after all that.

    The James thing . . . I just can't even touch. It's too tender for an outsider to even approach, except to acknowledge your pain, his pain, his difficult/toxic parents' pain, your children's loss . . . I wish for you the ability to navigate this appropriately and well, in a way that best serves the Lag Liv family's emotional needs.

    And the Landon thing . . . it's actually such a relief to hear (don't throw things at me!) because my 8 year old 3rd grader Jack is going through the exact same nonsense. He was just falling apart, highly anxious, FLIPPING OUT, over the most minor triggers. He lost his resilience, and perspective. He's been meeting with the school counselor - so far we haven't felt the need to escalate - but hearing that Landon has the same issues makes me think that maybe it's just this age, their emotions and world widening. Pre pre adolescence. Of course, I can seek treatment for him without the emotional napalm of PTSD flashbacks . . . another unfair trauma that is hard to believe happened to your family, and I'm so sorry you have to deal.

    Then the home sales are just salt in the wound. I know it's hard to close that chapter, even if it was already mostly closed. I'm sorry it all came down at once.

    We are all just an email or phone call away. Lots of love and support as you navigate the remainder of this week from hell. I hope it's done with its nasty surprises, and it smooths out from here.

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  6. Biglaw NYC lawyer here to say 1) your blog has helped and guided me more than you know 2) your honesty about your life is so appreciated 3) you're amazing, hang in there.

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  7. First of all I wanted to say I'm sorry things are hard. Sometimes things just suck and it's okay to say right now things suck.

    As for Landon, Michael went though something similar in third grade. Third grade is a huge jump. It's HARD. And Landon is a good, smart kid, he will be ok. You all will be ok. Michael is now a sixth grader who is rocking it. Without tantrums except for the occasional eye roll and door slamming which I think comes with the sixth grade territory.

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  8. (((you guys))). So sorry you have so much to deal with. Deep breaths. Thinking of you through the computer. I'm impressed you're doing counseling for Landon. We didn't with our daughter, and I fear it was the wrong decision (but I can also say I think we're on the other side of it now, and still whole)... I bet it will do him (and you) a lot of good.

    Hang in there, Friday's coming.

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  9. More long-distance hugs and love from another long time reader over here. I can't even begin to fathom having all those things drop on the same week. I'm so sorry. You are strong!! Hang in there.

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  10. Maybe this is a good time to say thank you for your blog -- you are talented and funny and this honesty helps all of us who read your stuff and think we'll never have it as together as you! I still think that, actually! :) I will also add a report about my third grader we sent to therapy. She had a serious case of OCD/anxiety -- it was terrifying. But therapy was incredibly helpful -- she got so much better so quickly, and fourth grade so far is nothing like third grade. I can say more if you need it. Peace to you!

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  11. So many feels of empathy for your parents selling their house. I've been trying to prepare myself for that eventuality for years, but I just know it's going to destroy me. I just keep trying to remind myself that they need to feel safe and happy with their life too, and they can't keep a house just for me. But so hard to contemplate much less cope. Big hugs.

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  12. First, I'm sorry this week has been so raw and shitty on so many levels. I have absolutely no advice to give on any of it except to say we've all been there on some level or another. Getting older and losing our childhood homes sucks. Being married and making things work is HARD- worth it, but hard. Add in extra family stress and it's a million times more difficult.

    As for Landon, you're doing the right thing. You're Doing The Right Thing. How do I know? Because I've been there: http://syracuse.citymomsblog.com/elementary-aged/taking-6-year-old-therapy-best-decision-ever-made/

    My Scorch is now 10 and we still see his therapist as needed to handle all his big feelings and I'll never, ever apologize for it. Keeping my son healthy and my family happy is the biggest gift I can give them.

    Thinking of you all!

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  13. First, let me say I'm sorry to hear about all of these challenges, as a mother of 3 I can relate. I've read your blog for a while and I often find myself in awe at how you're able to do all of your family/work responsibilities and work out every day. As painful as this time is for you, it's probably refreshing and helpful to many to know that you too have difficulties. I've got 3 kids age range 16 months - 7 and I'm also an attorney. Sometimes when I read your blog I wonder why can't I get a homecooked meal on the table everyday and work out everyday like you do. Being positive is great and necessary, but reading this probably makes many readers feel a little less hard on themselves. Hang in there, all hard times pass.

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  14. That's a shitty week that would lay anyone low. The conversation with James's dad is one that no one should have to have.

    Just another voice chiming in to say that you're a great parent for helping Landon get the help he needs - and making it OK to be vulnerable. I've been there, and it really helped us and my daughter over a rough patch.

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  15. Sending virtual hugs. I want to say - I recently was traumatized by a terror attack. I went to counseling. It helped tremendously and I do not qualify as having PTSD because of the therapy. I know you are busy, but it may be worth looking into.

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  16. Reaching through the screen to offer support...and margaritas. I have been reading for a while and really appreciate all you share, with such candidness (is that a word?) and humor. But this post really resonated. My 6 year old is seeing his 3rd "feelings doctor" for similar (and many other) issues, and its hard, even without any past experiences to scar us. There was a time when 3/4 of our family was in therapy (and the 4th may need it soon, too, also having explosive anger that actually IS at school & with his friends, and scares him more than anyone).
    But all that other stuff, all in one week? A total clusterF of suck, and I'm sorry. Cut yourself whatever slack you need until things calm down. I suggest an afternoon of leaving work early and binge-watching/eating until you can muster up the wherewithal to resume your many many responsibilities.

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  17. I sat down to type out exactly what everyone's already said above. Power on, you've got this.

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  18. Just sending you positive vibes.... all the wise people above have already wrote what i had in my mind. some days are just bad especially when feeling are hurt deeply, the time has to just pass. I wish we had a switch to end sad feelings, like how toddlers snap in and out of different mood in a flick of a second.
    Wish you say good bye! to the week in style.

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  19. That's a really crappy week. I'm so sorry. For all of it. My 8 year old son has had really severe outbursts and tantrums for several years. It really peaked around the age of 7 and it's steadily getting better (he turns 9 in January) with regular therapy and consistent efforts to de-escalate at home. The therapist was able to suggest some great ways for us to manage the situation without escalating it that were specific to his needs. It's helped, tremendously.

    And I understand your PTSD issues completely but in a different way. We were foster parents for years (our oldest 2 boys are adopted from foster care). I started reading your blog a few weeks after one of our foster children was removed from our house after a false allegation. It was an awful time in our life and we lived in constant fear of having our other children removed for a false allegation. It's been years and years but I still have a moment of panic when my kids see a new doctor or have an injury. I don't think that will ever go away.

    Hoping that your week gets much much better!

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  20. Man...I don't know what to say except I'm thinking of you and your family right now. Internet hugs from an internet stranger who has read and appreciated your blog for a long time now. I don't have a family of my own yet, but I hope someday to be able to navigate the complexities of marriage and parenthood with half the grace you show. Here's to Friday and lots of wine!

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  21. Jesus. What a week. I can't add anything more profound than what others have already, but shit girl. Hang in there.

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  22. Another funky computer drop here, but yeah I agree with the above. Here's my second try:

    OHH do I remember those weeks. You are strung out and exhausted and probably couldn’t catch up if you slept until Cora goes to college, because you are being the good attorney and the good mommy and the good wife and and and. My kids are older but the feeling that I needed someone to tell me I WAS doing a good job as if I was still in first grade, that feeling of actual physical pain concerning my children and the panic that I probably wasn’t doing as much as I could have, is just below the surface. When my adult son got very sick last summer (he’s fine now) I was right back with a depressed 10 yo and EVERY single thing I did wrong over the last 20 years. I love my husband and he was more involved than most, but I was always herding all the cats and keeping all the balls in the air. Meanwhile, while you do all this, you simply don’t have the leftover stamina and/or resilience to deal with the really awful lows. When you are both stressed and the only other adult who is intimate with the issues is stressed, too, you naturally take it out on each other, even if no screaming is involved. (“Separate time” worked best for us…) I think your reaction is both sane and reasonable.

    You must be nearly smothering under all the hugs but I need to add mine. Sending guacamole and margaritas to you. I have followed your blog since about when Claire was born and I have so enjoyed being part of your” extended family” and yes, it has helped ME on low days.

    I can’t promise things will immediately get better, but they do, eventually and somehow. Some days, you DO really need at least a couple of hours of a hotel room. Maybe a nearby friend will let you use her guest room for a decent nap--ASK. Wish I was nearby and could make the offer myself.

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  23. Also sending virtual hugs and support and thoughts. You are strong and awesome and we are all thinking of you.

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  24. Hi. I haven't been keeping up with blogs, but a fellow law mom told me to come read this post. I'm so sorry all this is happening at once. Also, I know exactly what you mean about your non-fight with James, but somehow it never occurred to me that that was a thing that happens to other people too. It doesn't happen often and it blindsides me when it does. I was already thinking of you and meaning to drop you a line, but now that I'm here I have scrolled down and am so, so happy to read "So first of all, I don't have cancer." I hope you get to take your long hot bath and have whatever moments of escapism you can scrape together until you can push through this. Sending you hugs.

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  25. The week is almost over. You're one of my most favorite blog authors, and your week sounds overwhelming to the best of us. Hang in there and power through and there's margaritas on the other side. Thanks for your authenticity in writing.

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  26. Since you made the comment about local readers...I'm local!! You make barre sound so much fun that I keep wanting to try it (somewhere) but finances just haven't lined up yet. I love your blog!

    I'm so so sorry that this week has been awful. Sending good thoughts and virtual margaritas. Hope sangria Friday is good tomorrow and that nothing else crazy happens anytime soon.

    Counseling is awesome. Parenting is so hard.

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  27. This shit is hard. You're an awesome mom. You're doing a great job. I'm holding your family in the light.

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  28. That? Is a really shitty week. I'm glad it improved. Your kids are lucky to have you both and James must be amazing to have come through that and be such a great dad. Sangria sounds like a great idea!

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  29. Sending you a virtual hug. I just read through the comments and realized that I don't really have anything to add that hasn't already been said. I'm sorry you're having a crappy week and hope that next week is better!

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  30. Aw LL...big hugs. For JP too.
    --Desimom

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  31. It's Friday and I hope you're drinking your old wine and celebrating this week is Done. Cheers and cookies. You got through it.

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