Thursday, May 10, 2012

Something

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I wake up at 5, and stumble around in the dark as silently as possible in an effort to get ready for work without waking up Josh, who is the lightest freaking sleeper in the world.  I take showers the night before, because the hair dryer is way too loud, and my hair is all crazy when I wake up, but it’s o.k., because the hair straightener and I, we’re LIKETHIS.

By 6 I’m at my desk.   I do my work, or sometimes I covertly study a little, because I’m back in school now, trying to finish my CS degree.  I don’t take a lunch, because if I don’t take a lunch I can leave at 2 instead of at 3, and I really, really need to leave at 2, because the babysitter has another job at 3.

When I leave for the day I rush home as quickly as possible to get Josh.  I spend a little one-on-one time with him, generally legos or little people zoo (kill me now), and try to quickly scarf down a little food, although he sees this whole mom eating thing as a pretty rude infringement on his time.

At 3:15 we pick up the big kids from school.  I listen to them talk about their day, help them with their homework, supervise chores (when I remember about chores) and piano practice (when I remember about piano practice).  I shuttle them to activities and friends’ houses. 

We have dinner, and it’s usually a pretty scattershot affair. On Mondays and Wednesdays their dad has school and study group, and we hang out without him.  I put the kids to bed at 8, in theory, but Josh has a big boy bed now, and he will not stay in it, and he will not go to sleep without intervention.  To get him to sleep I have to sit next to him, holding his hand, for 45 minutes or more.  It is insane, and I feel myself filling with tension thinking “JUST GO TO SLEEP, JUST GO TO SLEEP ALREADY, FOR THE LOVE”.  My husband thinks we should just put up the gate and let him play around until he falls asleep on his own, but he shares a room with his brother and he climbs on the furniture and climbs on Jake and stands at the gate and yells for us and gets tired and hysterical and then I still have to sit with him to get him to sleep.

By 9 he is usually in bed and I crack open my schoolbooks and try to stay awake long enough to study. To get the scholarships I want for next semester I need a 4.0, and although three of my classes are a piece of cake the other two require a lot of study.   I can’t drink caffeine because of my stomach issues and I struggle against my eyelids for a solid hour. 

When my husband gets home he wants to talk and / or connect and I am just too tired, I am just too exhausted to want to be with anything other than my own thoughts.  This is not fair to him but I am not a robot, I’m human, and tired, and I just want to go to sleep.   Things have not been easy between us over the last two years and I know I should be careful – I know I should spend more time on things.  My friend Kristen is a therapist and she says “pay now or pay later”, and I know she is right and it nags at me, but not enough to keep me awake. 

On Tuesday and Friday nights my husband is home but I have accounting and math and I leave the house right after dinner.   As busy as those nights are for me, spending the evening with other adults, filling my brain with new concepts – well, it feels like an evening at the spa. I come home and fall into bed and again I am so tired, SO so tired.

This is not a complaint.  I chose this.  I put myself in this position.  It is just a reality.  I’m tired. 

Taking five classes was probably not the wisest decision.  I am stumbling through my life, trying to make the best decisions I can, with the insight and knowledge I have on hand at the time I make the decision.  At the time it felt really urgent. 

I repeat to myself the same thing I constantly tell my kids – “we can do hard things” and I know it’s true, although probably not always strictly necessary.

My sister wants to know why I’m doing this, why on earth am I taking five classes right now, and the truth is that I just feel driven.  I have to get my degree.  I’m not even sure if what I’m studying is something I will really love, but it is something that will increase my paycheck, and that’s what I want right now.  I want financial security for my family.  I don’t want to worry about money for the rest of my life. 

I turn 40 later this month and it has occurred to me more than once over the last few weeks that I am probably having a mid-life crisis.  It has nothing to do with how I look.  It has to do with who I am.  It has to do with – is this all I ever will be?   Will we be broke and scraping by forever?  Will we be able to help send our kids to school?  Will we be able to retire? 

The truth is that my life is at least half over.  How can that be?  I turn it over in my mind and it feels impossible.  My husband interviews my mom for a presentation on senior citizens for his human development class.  He asks her questions about her life, about aging, about how she has changed.  I watch the video and I cry, because my mom cannot possibly be old enough to qualify for this presentation.  She is still 45, the same as she ever was, and I am still in my early twenties. 

She tells me that she still feels as young as she ever did, that you never feel old, that you never can quite believe how quickly it is all flying past, and this fills me with so much angst and conflict. I do not want her to age, I do not want to continue to age – not because of vanity, but because I am not really all that sure about what happens next.  More and more our ideas about eternal life sound increasingly like a fairy tale. 

I feel like I have to hurry, to hurry up and accomplish everything I want to accomplish.  I know it is a cliché, but I feel like I have not been living up to my potential.

I sometimes read blogs, and I read things that touch me, that make me think GOOD FOR YOU, that make me think YES, that make me laugh, that touch my heart, and I want to comment, and reach out, and connect, but there is just no time.  I feel like I am missing opportunities for important friendships, I think of my friend next door who is moving soon, I think of my friends back in Highland who I love and miss, and I think – those things are important, these people are important to me and they will all drift away as I become this invisible woman, someone so focused on her own life that she has no time for people, and they will soon have no time for her.  I steal some time out of my work day to go to lunch with friends and I think – I want to sit and talk to you for three solid hours, just me and you – but there is no time for it, and I leave happy but wistful.

For now I am focused on my kids, and my work, and my studies.  I am focused on making sure my balls all stay in the air.  It is hard work, but good work, because I am focused on becoming  - becoming something – I don’t know exactly what, but something more. 

My gosh this has been long.  If you made it this far you deserve a badge or a button or a really enthusiastic hand-shake.  It has been long and serious and I am not always comfortable with being publicly serious. I have been silly for most of my life.  I’m sure I still will be.  It is fun to be silly.  I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh.  But I am getting to a place where I have little patience for my own antics.

Right now I am serious, I am driven, I am determined, and I am trying very very hard to be smart.

12 comments:

  1. I never comment here, but I always read, and I want to tell you that you're on track (in my opinion, not that that counts). I am older than you, and I've made mistakes, and have done other things right (getting my BS as an adult), and I can say with authority that it is far more dangerous to lose yourself than a husband. And that it's better to take a pile of classes and get it done with already than spare everyone's feelings (because that's what it comes down to) and take it a class or two at a time and have it take forever--or at least so long that by the time you've accomplished it, no one wants to hire or promote you because of your age. We do have a shelf life, harsh but true. So you're doing the right thing, in the right way. Your children will survive and will grow up to admire you and perhaps emulate your strength. Your marriage may not survive--mine did not survive either my ambition or my distress about having to drag my husband along behind me. I love that thought, though: "we can do hard things." And yes, it IS necessary.

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  2. I think we all go thru times like this in our lives. There is a time and a season for everything. You will be so thankful you finished this. When you look back it will seem like such a small amount of time. As for your hubby, spend the time with him. It can have devestating consequences if you don't. I bet he is as tired as you, so it's not like it would be a marathon! Just a few minutes, in each others arms can make all the difference for you and him, to feel connected to each other. A life line! Good luck, you will prevail!

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  3. I don't really have anything to say except you go girl. You're awesome. I could barely make it through college with zero other responsibilities but you...you are amazing. You really are. But sister, nothing (not even financial security) is worth losing your marriage. There is no time in your schedule--I see that--but text each other, or leave him a sweet note in his coat pocket, or something. Something that lets him know that he is important to you, even if he's on the back burner until things get more stable. Your life is so hard. You shouldn't have to do that. But do it anyway. Your marriage is worth it.

    Also, you have no time for this but there's this show called "The Middle". It's kind of a classier Roseanne. Every time we watch it my husband and I look at each other and laugh about something because our lives are so similar to this TV show that it's almost sad. So this one episode the mom accidentally buys $200 face cream (she thought it was $20) and it puts them over the edge financially so both the mom and dad have to get second jobs to help pay all the fees etc. from her mistake. And at the end the husband is really mad and says "I just didn't think by this age we would still be like this...that $200 would put us over the edge." and the mom says "Remember when Axel (yes, they have a kid named Axel) was a baby and we were scouring the couch cushions for change to buy diapers because $20 would have put us over the edge? At least it's not that bad anymore." And yes, it's not easy but you are amazing and you're working and doing everything right and some day, $20 (or $200) won't put you over the edge and you will smile.

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  4. (man, when I don't have anything to say I sure have a lot to say...)

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  5. No way are you almost 40!! You don't look anywhere near it.

    You are my hero. This will all pass too. Friends who are real friends will still be there. As for your kids, you ARE paying now, so you don't have to pay later. Hang in there. I send you good vibes every time I start my homework at 9 p.m. too :-)

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  6. I don't know what to say. This is so beautiful and raw and honest. And I can't imagine my life being that hard. And I'm sorry that your life has to be so hard right now. You're amazing. You can do hard things. This too shall pass.

    I'm single, so I feel like the biggest hypocrite EVER talking about marriage, but I remember that you used to post the sweetest things about your husband, and how lucky you are to have him, and about how you used to play hide & go seek with him when you were newlyweds. Since you have no time, maybe just tell him over and over again that you love him, and that you're looking forward to being able to spend time with him again.

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  7. Question, how long do you have until you graduate?

    As for my comment, you can do hard things but that doesn't make it easy! While that my sound demeaning, how often do we feel guilty for complaining when things get hard? When our lives feel uncomfortable busy? Even though we know it is the best thing for us and our family? I believe that the exhaustion and everything else you feel right now makes sense.

    I am sending you so many positive prayers (bet you thought you wouldn't hear that from me, huh?) and wishes as you and your family push through this rough batch. I am sure your husband (who is also going to school and working?) can relate and understands how tightly pulled you feel right now.

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  8. Just a little advice from a senior citizen. Going to school and eventually improving your financial stability will be for naught if you end up a single mother in the process. All marriages have ups and downs, some downs deeper than others. You and Lee have had a rough few years. But you need to try to find some way to focus on your marriage, even if it's just small ways.

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  9. It's good to hear from you, even if I'm more crying for/with you than laughing. You CAN do hard things. You are DOING hard things. I don't know if it makes a difference, but I think it does, so know that a stranger in Texas is praying for you and your family.

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  10. Eventually, you will pass this phase in your life and grow into something better. You'll look back at it and wonder how you ever did it, but you'll feel stronger just remembering that you did. But remember, you have a lifetime to accomplish what you want, so don't do too much too fast and risk what you already have.

    As for the problem of getting children to sleep, I recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/Go-F-Sleep-Adam-Mansbach/dp/1617750255

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  11. Listen to Grandma Cebe! Would it make a difference if you took "only" 2 or 3 classes at a time? You can make it up over the summer. An extra year or two getting your degree beats being too tired to enjoy your kids and talk to your husband.

    I do get the need to use your mind and do something different. I think we all experience something similar once the youngest turns 2 or 3.

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  12. Aging terrifies me, and not necessarily myself aging but my grandma. She is now in her mid 60s and it is the weirdest, scariest thing ever. I remember when she turned 50. The other day she mentioned that she was in the twilight of her life and I was like "UM, NO YOU ARE NOT, YOU'RE MIDDLE AGED," and she's all, "no."

    And then I peed my pants and cried under the bed for two hours.

    My grandma can't get old. My mom can't get old. I cannot stand the idea of not being able to talk to them daily. It scares the ever loving crap out of me.

    So. Yeah.

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