Yesterday was a day filed with several debacles as well as one incredibly bizarre, lengthy, and unexpected fracas. Despite the heinousness of the day, however, Herself has shed her porcupine quills and is able to resume her usual cheerful demeanor.
She would like to thank her Pea-in-a-pod Friend, for providing a listening ear, a hug, and heartfelt consolation when they were desperately needed; her Cherished Friend, for inquiring regarding Herself's well-being and for helping her to find her bootstraps with which to pull herself up; and her Beloved, for serving as an intermediary and general Knight In Shining Armor at the height of yesterday's oddities.
How fortunate she is, to have you all in her life.
Awash in frustration about things over which she has no control, unable to enunciate her own needs adequately enough to have them addressed, she is fragile and fatigued. She is wounded by one hundred tiny hurts. Full of contradiction, she wants to be independent and resilient, yet longs for the respite of another's care. She is angry at herself for being needy, and at the same time is in desperate need of consolation.
She is difficult. She may lash out before she can be comforted. She may shed bitter, useless tears.
Yet she asks of us, in the words of the Swedish proverb:
Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it.
As the summer has drawn to a close and the first day of school has approached, there has been the usual bonanza of back-to-school angst associated with the myriad errands and activities: shopping for school supplies; schedule-fixing; worry regarding new schools or new classes; concern over the right clothes/hair/shoes; and so forth. Herself has done her best to provide what is needed, to soothe the ruffled feathers, to console, encourage and instill enthusiasm. Finally today, all the Offspring will be ensconced at school, and Herself will have the luxury of missing them.
Herself has Caregiver fatigue. Although the Offspring are all maturing nicely and on the whole are capable of mostly entertaining and occasionally feeding themselves, it has nevertheless been a long summer that occasionally has felt like endless rounds of meal-making, cleaning-up-after, laundry-ifying, cajoling about chores, refereeing amongst the masses, driving hither and yon, reminding, motivating, scolding. Today, when Herself can finally be alone in the house for the first time in months, she will be able to look back and better see the pleasant moments of the summer. Then she will be grateful.
The Offspring are a lovely bunch of people: witty, smart, caring and humorous. Because of their absence, Herself will be renewed, refreshed, and more appreciative of them when they return at the end of the school day. She will truly miss them. All will be better.
Nineteen years ago, in front of family, friends, and a heavily perspiring Father Kelley, Herself and her Beloved exchanged vows and became husband and wife.
Herself was asked last night, "What's the secret?"
Herself tells me that the secret to a long-term marriage is in two vital phrases:
These words encompass a wealth of necessities: gratitude, caring, humbleness, service, forgiveness, appreciation. Together with a large measure of patience, they can help to surmount almost any challenge.
These words have served Herself well for nineteen years. I know they will serve well for many more.
This morning while out bicycling, Offspring the third found a bunny hopping around a front yard. No one answered the door when he rang the bell, so he captured it and carefully brought it home, wrapped in his T-shirt. He has posted "Found Bunny" signs at strategic locations throughout the neighborhood. No calls yet.
Yesterday, Herself registered Offspring the third for middle school. He is a tad nervous. She is working hard to be a pillar of stability, comfort, and enthusiasm for him. She has already contacted the Vice Principal to try to ensure that Offspring the third's 504 plan has transferred from elementary school, to facilitate accommodation and integration into the middle school world.
She worries quite a bit about what Offspring the third will face this year. The complexity of switching classes; the need to remember multiple homework assignments; having to "suit out" for physical eduction. So many moving parts to the schedule.
Her biggest fear, as always: the bullies. Tender-hearted, quirky Offspring the third has always been a target. His hot buttons are large and easy to press. While he has made significant progress in learning how to navigate social waters, he still regularly requires that someone fling him a life preserver when he is worn out and struggling.
Yesterday, Herself decided was time to have a heart-to-heart with Offspring the third about the Asperger's elephant that sometimes appears in the room with him. More complicated than any 'birds and bees' discussion, it was a delicate dance of description. A pointing out of his personality quirks; an explanation of how such quirks are all part of the way he was made, and that the term 'Asperger's' is commonly used to describe a panoply of quirks like his. A comment that he is slightly different -- not in a bad or wrong way, but in his own way. A cautionary statement that some people look down upon others who are different, and the need for judgement as to whom he tells about his Asperger's. A mention of famous people who also have Asperger's. A brief talk about accommodations in school.
He had no particular questions, and she is not sure how much of an impact the talk has had on him. She knows, though, that it is better he be aware of the terminology that may be applied to him, so that he will understand any overheard, well-meaning whispers and can be matter-of-fact about his own needs. The term, 'Asperger's,' will be a tool for him to gain that little bit of extra understanding that is critical for him to succeed.
Let us hope that all will go as well as possible. Godspeed, Offspring the third, as you delve into middle school. We will be here for you, to gather you and support you, always.
Moods are improving a bit over here, with much thanks to supportive friends for their kind words.
Herself has even taken to wearing her "cougar" hat as a humorous reference to her age. Offspring the first picked it out while we were on vacation; she said that the other choice was a horse hat, but that Herself "is not an old nag," so the cougar hat it was. It is quite a fabulous piece of headgear.
Herself has not aged happily. She tolerated this birthday, though 43 appears as though it will be a slightly more difficult year than 42 was. She did her best to maintain a good sense of humor, to be grateful for all that she has, to recognize that all things considered, she's faring fairly well for her age. She tried to pamper herself a bit, as one is expected to do at birthday-time: a haircut, a tiny bit of shopping. She thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her Beloved and her cherished friend that morning, and challenged herself that afternoon by making a cake from scratch. Yet she knew that despite her efforts, she was at the periphery of an unhappy place.
It was a few casual words, though, that pushed Herself over the edge into the Well: "You're officially middle-aged now."
Why was this sentence the tipping point? Perhaps because it's quite true. She is halfway done, at the least.
This is a hard place to be. She suddenly has become more aware of those dreams deferred and set aside, and knows that she must accept that certain goals will never, in fact, come to pass. She worries significantly about the economy, about under-employment, about balancing the wants and desires of the family against a shrinking income. She is far more sorrowful than she thought she would be when she acknowledges that her reproductive years are behind her, and she regrets not enjoying the years when her offspring were tiny more. She is concerned about protecting them from the sometimes-harsh glare of the Real World, about trying to ensure they learn all the lessons they need and make no life-altering mistakes. So many small worries. They have reached a critical mass, and spontaneously formed the Well in which she now sits.
She will find her way out of the Well eventually. She always does. In the meanwhile, though, if you have a moment to quietly keep her company in the Well, she would be grateful.
Yesterday was Herself's 43rd birthday. Her only wishes, as she blew out her candles, were for health and happiness for Herself, her Beloved and her Offspring, as well as for health and happiness for, and continued friendship with, those individuals who have beeen so important to her in the past year.
As much as I enjoyed the family travels, I am relieved to be back now. I missed the comforts of the family home. I know Herself and the Offspring looked forward to returning to their individual, and larger, spaces, and to seeing their friends. Back to the pleasures of ordinary daily routines.
Yesterday we discovered that a wasp is making her own home adjacent to the front door. As concerned as we are about having a hive of stinging insects so close to the door, we are also fascinated by the nest construction. This single cell was prepared in a mere two hours' time. I'm looking forward to observing as it grows.
Such beautiful mountains. So interesting to drive up, up past the treeline, to see the changes in the trees that try so hard to grow in this difficult terrain. How Herself would like to come back nearer to winter, to see the snow and the mountains without the hordes of tourists. A bit more hiking would be lovely, too. Someday.
As into each life some rain must fall, and so unto each vacation some laundry must befall. The benefit of taking care of laundry at an RV park is that there are multiple machines, and if one has enough quarters, multiple loads can be washed and dried simultaneously, dramatically speeding up the laundry process.
Once laundry is complete, we will be off to greater adventures!
The family spent two solid days in the city, visiting museums and local hot spots. Herself was practically beside herself with delight at the fascinating, gratifyingly scientific collection of minerals in the Nature and Science Museum. Her Beloved thoroughly enjoyed the Art Museum. The Offspring seemed satisfied with both places. There was also a Hard Rock Cafe, shopping in various places, and a pilgrimage to the local Guitar Center. Offspring the first was a bit put out that there were no malls on the itinerary, but otherwise, all seemed to have a good time. Offspring the third even had an opportunity for one of his favorite activities - splashing in the pool.
We will be back on the road tomorrow. More good times await!
After another onerously lengthy day on the road on Friday, we reached our destination on the outskirts of Denver. We have set up camp nicely. It's a small space, but it has everything we need. I do enjoy the simplicity of the camper-trailer: everything in its place, nothing extraneous. Less is always more.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.