This is a strange time of year for me. I usually get tired of summer way before it’s over because hot is not my favorite weather. I hate sweating, sweltering, being thirsty. I despise being outside if the temperature is over 80 degrees. And I also love fall (yes, I know, how basic can I be, right? I, however, love fall because of the cooler weather and my cute clothes and not because of anything pumpkin spice related). But it’s also the time of year where I am more prone to melancholy. It’s a scientific phenomenon (right?) so it’s not really my fault – something about the light starting to become more scarce as winter looms ahead makes it hard to maintain my delicate mental health equilibrium (okay it’s not really that bad but you get the point).
This year it’s worse. Is it because of my age? I just turned 40, you guys. I have been alive for FORTY YEARS. I’m not even sure how that’s possible but there it is. Is it hormonal? (which, AGAIN, would make it because I’m 40, for the love of Pete). Or is it because the world actually seems like a crazy place to me all of a sudden? I mean, people have been telling me that for years. Especially my parents – they worry about the world their grandkids will grow up in etc, etc and I’ve always been like “yeah, okay *copious eye roll* but now? I think they might actually be right. Which, again, is that because I’m 40? Is that the age where you suddenly stop being a young person entirely? Do I need to start sitting on the porch yelling at people to get off my lawn?
The most likely explanation is that this past Monday I dropped both of my babies off at school. Full-time school. All-day school. And now I’m having an identity crisis (#firstworldproblems). I didn’t get married until I was 33 years old. I had my first kid at 35. Prior to that I was in charge of… just me. I lived alone (gloriously GLORIOUSLY ALONE) for a long time (I had cats but is there any creature on the planet that is less maintenance than a cat? Here’s a box for you to poop in, I’ll see you when you want your five minutes of affection today). I had a real job – a career, even – and I got paid pretty well. And then in the span of five years I got married, moved to a different state, quit that career path and switched to a completely different one, had two babies (with all of the various complications that all involved – please see for example all of my blog posts about such), moved to yet another state, etc, etc. I can’t even remember all of the other things that happened. The point is that, like a lot of women, my identity for the past five years has been Mom and, to a lesser extent, Wife. Before becoming those things I didn’t really understand what it meant. I remember my mom telling me once that there was a period of her life where she hadn’t really felt like herself. She wasn’t Denise anymore she was so-and-so’s wife, so-and-so’s mom, Sister so-and-so (we were Mormons so if you don’t know what that means, sorry about it. And hey, Google is your friend) but never just Denise. And now I know exactly how she feels. I mean, I at least have a job where I can have conversations (albeit on Skype – hi, working from home, you are weird) but for the most part I’ve just been Mom for five years. And I was cool with it, for the most part. Looking back on the first year of Louisa’s life I recognize that I had PPD that manifested as crippling anxiety (which I wish now I would have realized earlier and like, gotten some therapy or something but that’s neither here nor there). It was hard for me to be responsible for someone else’s life and not in an I-don’t-want-to-grow-up kind of way but in an OMG-what-if-something-terrible-happens-to-her kind of way. Like, I was literally keeping her alive. And I couldn’t even leave my apartment during the day without having some sort of breakdown because she would cry or scream or freak out. Yes, I know that all babies do that and it’s normal but it was very stressful for me because of the crippling anxiety. Also, in my defense, if you’ve been here since way back then, you’ll remember that the first year of her life was filled with medical scare after medical scare – missing hand, hole in her heart, torticollis/plagiocephaly, strange bump above her eye – so many doctor visits! I was really a mess y’all. It hurts my heart to look back on it.
Anyway (wow, sorry about the stream of consciousness blathering – it’s particularly bad today – I’m off my meds, in case you were wondering – weeee!), the point, this time, is that when Louisa started full-time school two years ago, I had this same thing. Most people don’t have to send their kids away for this much school until first grade (unless you live somewhere with full-time kindergarten but I think the normal is half-day). Because my kiddos have The Autism, we made the decision to send them to full-time preschool that really isn’t preschool so much as therapy. Therapy that a lot of people have to scramble to find and/or pay for when they find out their kids need it. This school is a haven, you guys, and it is staffed by angels so I know it’s the right thing to do and it’s the right place for them to be but did you have to put your 3-year-old on a gigantic school bus and send them off for seven hours a day? It’s H-A-R-D. But at least when Louisa went off, Simon was still little and home with me. I kept myself busy hanging out with him all day long and consoled myself thusly. But this year. THIS YEAR. OMG, you guys. Simon is so so tiny. He really is. He is tracking pretty consistently on the 40-somethingth percentile for height but only 5th for weight so he’s this wee little boy. And so on Monday when Jason and I dropped both kids off at school I just… yipe. Sunk into a pit of melancholy. And anxiety. Holy crap the anxiety. I’m a Christian so technically I’m not supposed to have anxiety but MY APOLOGIES, Jesus, because I am having a rough time.
All summer long all I have wanted is five minutes to myself. We decided this year (for various reasons, mostly financial) that Jason wouldn’t work like he did last summer but just take care of the kids while I worked so we were basically ALL here ALL summer. And it was hard. Hard to get any work done, hard to pee in private, hard to carve out any time for myself. So you would think that I would be skipping around in ecstasy, inhaling deep gulps of precious silence and taking long, leisurely showers but instead I’m working extra hours, filling up the thundering silence with the bad accents of ESL dictators talking about heart palpitations and diarrhea (such a glamorous life, Anjeanette).
I assume that eventually I’ll get used to it and figure out how to be the mom of school kids instead of the mom of babies. And really, school has started – somebody is bound to get pink eye/strep throat/stomach flu soon to remind me just exactly what it is I do around here. And until then, I could probably catch up on Days of Our Lives or something, right?