Monday, November 01, 2004

Alone at last

For the first time in months, both my boys are down for an afternoon nap -- in bed, and at the same time -- and I'm actually alone.

This is a good thing, even though I've been feeling lonely and isolated from my closest friends lately. My friend and her son moved out two weeks ago, so we've been working our way back to our old routine again. We've committed to helping her with transportation to work until she gets a car, so my week is still influenced by her schedule.

Actually, if I'd looked at the correct schedule, I wouldn't be typing this at all. My sister and I took the boys to Barnes & Noble this morning, thinking I didn't have to be back until 12:30. Turns out I was supposed to watch her son at 11:30 and she was going to take my car, but we didn't get back until 11:45. So she woke up her ex, who works nights, instead. No, I still don't have a cell phone.

The mistake meant I could actually put my kids down for a nap when they were ready, which was earlier than usual because of the time change. My 3.5yo hasn't been napping except occasionally since before he turned three, but lately he's been sleeping less at night and been cranky all day. I know some people could get three toddlers to nap at the same time, but I haven't figured out how to do that non-coercively yet. It's been easier just to keep them busy outside or turn on a movie, and if one of them falls asleep in my lap or on the couch, great.

So, here I am, writing again. I have a really hard time finding creative energy when my life feels out of control. I lose my sense of humor. Even though it might be good for me to sit down and just get all my emotional crap out of my head and onto the screen, I can't do it. Especially when I know people will see it. I don't want to feel sorry for myself. And I'm tired of hearing, "That's really nice of you. She's lucky to have you for a friend." Yes, I'm glad to be able to help. I'd do it all again. That's not really the point. The problem is figuring out how to make it work better. How to deal with the stress that comes on when you have extra people living in your house, and you weren't the best household manager to begin with. How to maintain your relationship with your husband and children when time and opportunties for one-on-one attention are always short. How to still connect with your other friends when you're never alone long enough to feel like calling anyone, and don't have transportation half the time.

That last issue, however, is not just because my friend was living with us for 2.5 months. Five weeks ago she went to work full-time, and wasn't around that much anymore. No, it's more because I still haven't learned to be direct about my needs. I still depend on other people's listening and intuitive skills too much. So, when an neighbor who loves to talk, is away from adult contact all day, and whom I need to maintain a decent working friendship with drops by three or four times a day, I feel trapped. I don't want to say, "You're driving me crazy! I have stuff to do! Go home and stop leaving your kids alone!" Because sometimes I'm really glad to have someone to talk to, even if it's fairly surfacy. Sometimes my kids are thrilled to have their friends stop by, because they know I probably won't get everything in order to make the trip across the street myself. Because I'm too anal. I like to shower and dress before I leave the house. I don't want my kids crossing the street barefoot, but I can't find their socks. Because I know if it's too close to a mealtime, we'll get hungry and cranky before we're ready to come home, and it'll be a nightmare tearing them away again.

And then we come to the next problem. My firstborn child's and my matching melancholy temperament. We've been driving each other crazy lately. Our blood sugar drops at the same time, and we're equally inept at recognizing hunger and seeking food before it's too late. In fact, he often rejects food when he most needs it, as I used to do, too. We're both impatient perfectionists, and react dramatically to the smallest problem, and then sensitively to each other's noisy emotions.

So this week, I've found myself disliking my own child, and disliking myself even more for it. I'm seriously no more mature than my 3-year-old. I need God's help in a big way, but I've forgotten how to ask for it. I've been focusing all month just on gaining control over the house, as though somehow if I can get that in order, I'll feel in control of my life again. But it never lasts long. Someone always stops by at the messiest time of day. No one sees it when thinks are picked up. So what's the point?

I'm going to stop here and call my sister who lives out of state. I miss her.


Jasper said...

Hey Amanda, that was so vulnerably honest. Thank you for saying everything you're thinking and feeling. I'm no where living your life, but I definately relate to some of what you said....
love you

Cassandra S. said...

I cried reading that, the stress you're describing, the strange loneliness, the melancholic bad moods, the feeling inadequate & immature, not knowing how to properly assert ones self when drastically needed (I tend to assert myself in the wrong moments, and ignore the moments that NEED)...sigh, you now know my deep dark gloomy secrets. Life is hard, I just didn't think you knew it in the way I do.

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