Monday, March 16, 2009


Now there's a title. It's accurate and metaphoric, all at once. I used to have pages of ads, pictures that I'd torn out of Shape Magazine and others, shots of women running: on the beach, down the boardwalk, around a lake. I had them stuck to the back of our bedroom door, sort of a "vision board," to borrow from The Secret's lingo. Anyway, I've thought about it over the years. Had dreams, literally and more figuratively, of doing sprint distance triathlons, but I've never known how to rearrange everything (kids, hubster, house, and etc.) to make training of any kind show up on the radar. Plus there's this ridiculous knee of mine. I truly can't afford to mess with it. If I'm lucky and careful and all that, according to the orthopedist, I should have about five more years before I have to figure out how to finance another knee surgery. Instead of running, we biked on the weekends and used to walk after supper, taking the family around the neighborhood, littles in the bike trailer/stroller or later up on shoulders when the little legs ran themselves tired. It was awesome.

So. Fast forward to now. I still have a bazillion legitimate reasons not to run, but the idea won't leave me alone. In my experience, this urging is best listened to. And quick, before it has to swell to epic proportions to get my attention and I end up learning to run by, say, having to relearn things like standing and walking in some intensive PT program somewhere. Guess I'd better get creative with the schedule, then.

Over the last few weeks, I've tried, pushed in fact, to make sleep a priority for me. I've made it to bed before midnight a few times. But even on the nights where Q sleeps for several hours all in a row, I'm often startling awake, feeling that things are somehow amiss, just as I used to when Someone was on call. Getting better sleep always equals better everything else for me, including just basic ability to keep up. Perhaps if I go back to just focusing on the sleep issue, other things will again feel a little easier.

(Brace yourself for the inevitable whine which follows right... now.) I believe I can now provide hard evidence that whatever happens, no matter how fast I run (pun intended), I will never, ever, not even one time, get it done. Not all of it, maybe not even most of it. Given that, it seems like an important thing right now to know whether or not I'm tired or depleted, you know? Because tired, dog tired, is to be expected. A droopy immune system may also be expected but it is not even a little bit acceptable. It would cut into my ability to push through, as do certain more chronic pain issues. Those things have to be handled, now, and gotten past, ASAP. The ones that refuse to go away just suck the life right out of a person. That's usually the time that a persistent track pops up in my head: "You're just one person. What makes you think you can do this? You can't do this! You're only one person!"

It's taken me too long to shut that stoopid voice down, let me tell ya. (Rolling eyes at self.) The big problem with that voice is that it's right. And also dead wrong. I can choose to buy into the truth that it's all on my head here, all these needs and plans and schedules to keep, or I can go with a slightly less panicky version. It has occurred to me, in sometimes emphatically illustrated ways, that I haven't a moment to spare on this sort of thing. Every last thing needs to be constructive, useful, a building up instead of tearing down. I mean, we all know about the tearing down of muscle in order to build it up (great reference to the same here), and that certainly applies in holding oneself together: the holding together is often best done in the context of new skills, often gained in a tearing down portion of the cycle. Perhaps especially so when one has dependents who, well, depend on one.

Steven Covey says in his tape "How to Write a Family Mission Statement" that when pilots fly, they're off their stated plan as much as 90% of the time. Ninety percent!? And yet, they make course corrections, consulting with their instruments, with their flight plans, with towers. They almost always arrive on time and at the correct destination, even when they've spent ninety percent of their time in the air pointed in a direction other than the one they wanted to be headed. The take away point, for me, is the willingness to course-correct.

I wonder sometimes how the kids will remember these years. That's pretty much what keeps me flying along at a high rate of speed. Vacuums get filled up you know, so best to have a full stock nearby of truly Good Things with which to fill them. So. Rather than being focused on the vacancies, it's vitally important to put all ounces of energy into making good memories, pulling material from every direction, talking when words barely come, listening when sleep is calling, reading and researching and praying, and staying in the moment and loving on 'em even when they're just plain horrid. Wish that last one were easier.

We're in a very different stage of life these days. G has applied for a summer volunteer position at the zoo/aquarium*. He's excited and a little fearful about it, laughing self-consciously when I asked him whether he was hoping they'd call or hoping they wouldn't. E wants to dive in right after him -- she's been trying to figure out how to go rock drug-addicted babies or help therapists where Q is every week. Those places won't take volunteers under 14, so she's been pretty disappointed. I'm trying to think of how to maybe go, the two of us, to do this. K, for all her current frustration with certain sibs, loves on Mr. Q like nobody's business. She is all about how to make him laugh, and does she ever. S is navigating new ground too: how to be responsible and grown-up when no one recognizes your mad butter knife skillz (food prep) or that you're jolly well just as capable of just about everything as any of the other kids. Q is busy -- he's decided that food is mostly passe, unless it's dessert (hmmm, sounds like he's three). He's getting ready for an AAC eval because his new Speech Path is all about getting things done, and she likes PRC. (Hand clapping, happy dancing) And? She knows the rep. She'd be happy to call Mia up and ask her what they can do for us in the way of a loaner. Something to play with so Q can see what he really needs.

So I have five on the verge. They're setting up the pins and knocking them down. By contrast, I'm feeling too often like I'm just about keeping up, when the most useful place for me to be is out ahead. The therapy bags, diaper bags, purses, duffels, music bags, church/quiet bags, and their ilk, all need sorting, laundering, repacking. Q's toy/therapy shelves need sorting. The girls closet needs reorganizing according to size and season. I got a thorough job done while they were gone at Christmas, but it seems like no matter how much a person does in there, clothing and miscellaneous detritus just keep popping up. The laundry room could use an emptying of everything that isn't nailed down and then a thorough cleaning (detergent droplets make a horrible goo). We might be up some pairs of socks at the end of that effort.

While all the above is true, it's also just as true that the kids are 56 days into their goal of 100 consecutive days of violin practice (piano hasn't fared quite as well, but close). It's also true that the dishes keep getting done, the cupboards wiped down, the floor swept and mopped. It's true that the kids keep reorganizing their school cubbies, putting away their violins, sorting laundry. Bags of unused or no longer needed items continue to leave the house, headed for Goodwill or ARC. Things that must be kept are put into their memory boxes. And everyone gets fed really good stuff (my interpretation) and then washed up. Every day. Learning happens, conversation happens. Every day.

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself." (The Desiderata) It's hard to resign oneself from being open to the judgements and qualifiers of the rat race. But it's worth it. Or so I hear. I'll let you know when I reach the mountain top. Right after I have a nap.

We'll consider it a course correction.

*This process made me grin. It was very like the mad dash made for the proper postmark date, nearly an hour from where we were going to school, me driving pell mell through the dark while someone was writing his personal statement for his John's Hopkins application. "Discuss, discuss. Scribble. What?" Repeat. G was far more collected than either of us were, much to his credit, and no writing was done en route, but still. He sounds more like his dad all the time, the whole process brought back such strong memories, all while I'm feeling a little out of body about my eldest filling out applications for anything. Seems like he was a toddler in my arms, first asleep over my pregnant belly, then carried by his dad, all of us at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, just moments ago.


Anonymous said...

Wow! You have such a way with words. Your story of "running" brought back a backlash of memories.

Nuff said on that.

Anyway, have you tried running a small fan (noise)in Q's room at night? When I started doing that, my kids slept WAY better. Might be worth a try, but knowing you, you've probably already tried that.


C said...

Whitney! So nice to "see" you! :o) I have a little white noise machine -- it was Q's present to me for mother's day last year. Heh. He gets it at nap time and gets all excited when I turn it on, anticipating. But i haven't run it much at night. I wonder how he'd do with that... (thinking)

Cara said...

I love this one. Shocker. I love ALL of them. So many shared experiences and even the ones that have pain in them made me smile. But that bit at the end about the Monterey Bay Aquarium brought lightning fast tears to my eyes -- we did that too. At that place. And I think about it too. And wonder where all that went -- the kids, the shoulders, the whole package.

Sending the love,