20 March 2008

The Place I Am Right Now

OK, one more thing about the Bialetti and I will shut up: the lattes that come out of that thing are flaming hot. "Extra hot" at Starbucks be damned. These things are HOT. Yeow! I love it. Love it! 

The bad news is that aside from my love affair with the Bialetti, I'm not in such a good place right now. Ironically, I think this is probably a good thing. I've been edgier and moodier since meeting with the social worker, so I think that poking around at the tip of the iceberg that is my grief has made me somewhat . . . let's just call it volatile. It takes pretty much nothing to push me over the edge of hanging on to screaming madwoman. [Aside: is this how Riley feels all the time? Yikes!] Hopefully working through some of the hidden depths that are the source of the volatility will eventually calm it down. The likelihood that I will be patient with the process—and easy on myself throughout? Slim to none. But I will try. And I will drink lots of lattes. And really, what else can a woman do?

Maddie and Riley have been patient with me, more so than kids their age should have to be. I've been open with them about how I feel sad, and if I say, "Mama is sad right now," they will come over and give me hugs, which is very sweet. And when I yell or act petulant and bitchy, I apologize and explain to them that I'm not the two-year-old in our family, even though I act like I am a lot of the time lately while expecting them to act like the grown-ups.

While sleep overall has been better lately (knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood), getting the kids to sleep has become a production. I've been spoiled by kids who, since we did CIO at six months, have pretty much been happy to be tucked in, told they are loved, and that's that. Maybe some happy chatter, maybe straight to sleep, but once the door is closed, they're fine. Not so much lately. Riley has moved his screaming routing to bedtime. The door gets closed and all hell breaks loose. People want books. People want a hug. People want to scream for no reason that I can discern. While I don't give in to all of what I hear over the monitor, I do go in when Riley does the terrified cry, about twice a night. It's been averaging about 35 minutes between the door closing and kids falling asleep. I'm sure that to some, that doesn't seem like long. But I'm used to my me time starting when I walk out of their room, and now it starts a good bit later, and a good stressful bit later. This is wearing to me. Mantra: it's just a phase, it's just a phase, it's just a phase . . .

It did occur to me that there might be a link between me being less patient and Riley's disturbed sleep patterns. As noted before, that kid picks up on everything. I have been noticeably more sad of late, and that could be upsetting to him. The double-edged sword here is that if I were in a better emotional state, I'd handle his riled-up emotions better. It sucks that we're both down at the same time. I think some of the bedtime antics might be related to the time change, too, although that's been a while now. Who knows. Phase, that's it, phase.

At least there's dinner with my girlfriends to look forward to tonight. That couldn't come at a better time.


Anne K. said...

Am thinking of you, sweetie, as I often do. It's no wonder that you're edgy. You're coming up on the first anniversary. Such things bring everything to the surface. As you noted, that's probably good. But no less painful.

rose said...

Your insight into the current forces in your life and the effect they have on all the realms of your life is going to be a very positive factor for your family. Grief is such a fluid thing, especially the first few years. As we get closer to an anniversary, especially the first one, it is brought to the forefront again by the sights and sounds of the season it occurred in, at least it always is for me. I also lost a family member to pancreatic cancer, and 5 years later continue to be astounded by the waves of grief that occur in the early winter as the light changes and the cold comes and I am brought back to stumbling through that time again. The coming month will be difficult, but you know that and you know it will influence your parenting. It is so hard to know what you would be dealing with with Riley in different life circumstances, but I don't think you would see much different from either of you. He is a tricky, tiring kid, and at the end of the day, you do the best you can, and that's all you can do. You also are able to recognize that he's doing the best he can to. Someday, it will get better. Down the road, you may want to explore some sensory techniques with him, and see if there are certain sights, smells, sounds that either agitate or calm him. Peace.

Mary Ellen said...

Maybe they'd like new animals to sleep with? Or maybe not. Thirty-five minutes really isn't that bad... One thing that you could do is, turn off the monitor!! Unless you've got a big big house, you'll hear them when they really need you, but you won't get stressed out by the regular chitter-chatter.

Anonymous said...

uI'm not much of a coffee drinker but maybe there is a connection between more lattes and your edgier mood? Just a thought.

Karen O said...

Somehow, your words, “. . .tip of the iceberg that is my grief. . .” began a whole soup metaphor in my head. In spite of being frightfully corny, I hope that my thoughts may amuse, help or comfort you, so I’ll share:

As a result of the meeting with the social worker, your emotional pot (of soup) has been stirred. This pot of soup has been scorched and there are burned bits sticking to the bottom of the pot. As much as you’d like to throw the whole batch away and start over, you simply can’t. Sometimes you are able to transfer the contents to a cleaner container, but for the most part, your task is to clear the soup - pot and all.

You now must go through the tedious process of picking out the biggest chunks of burned stuff and then straining out the little, remaining bits until the soup is clear again. In the mean time, you still have to eat the soup, burned bits and all. You try to feed the best parts to your children, but sometimes you miss some of the scorched parts and they get mixed in with the children’s portions. They try to eat the best part, but still manage to take in some of the stuff that’s not so good. They don’t like the scorched taste, but there are enough good parts so that they are still nourished.

Clearing the soup takes a long time. Sometimes you think you’re all done, only to find some stubborn little dark bits still clinging to the bottom of the pot. Eventually, though, you get to a point where the soup is the way you like it. You and your children are able to eat it and share it with friends and family. It will always have a slightly smokey flavor, but that’s become an essential part of its character.

Obviously, I’ve burned some soup of my own over the years, but never with the grief that you’re living with. Through your writing, your head and heart, although bruised, sound strong. You’re doing some very hard work right now - rest assured that you have a lot of people pulling for you.

mlg said...

~~hugs~~ thinking of you.

Sometimes you just have to give mommy a time out. I found that so important with the kid. Tell her that I am not mad at her and she did nothing wrong but mommy needs a time out. It worked very well.

Have a great girls night!

KCRSummertime said...

Boy, you sure get great & wise comments on your blog! I particularly like Karen O's soup metaphor.

The metaphor I thought of is this:

Have you cleaned out a closet recently? Like seriously cleaned it - top to bottom? Taking out all the clothes & shoes & boxes of wrapping paper & containers of old photos & bags of mittens & broken purses? Did you notice that when you emptied your closet, and got it all clean, you turned around and your ENTIRE HOUSE IS A DISASTER AREA? The crap that used to be stuffed into the closet is now strewn everywhere, and you have to figure out what the hell to do with it.

That's what therapy is. *sigh*

(I don't have to spell out the happy ending, do I? Clean closet, discarded trash, redicovered treasures, etc...)

Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

don't underestimate the time change with kids! its 2-3 weeks of adjustment at our house and my kids are 4 and 7.
(i wouldn't be anonymous if google didn't baffle me! sorry!)

carosgram said...

I have admired your guts and strength during John's illness and his death. I know you are a good mother and are concerned about your children. But isn't it important for you and them to know it is ok to grieve? To moan and groan, and cryout about the injustice and scream out your loneliness and anger? Where does it say you have to make others comfortable while you are in pain? Shouldn't your children be able to have the full experience of losing their father even if it isn't always 'nice'? Stop feeling guilty or that you are being a bad mother because grief makes you short tempered. Your children need to know that is what grief does and it is ok for you and them to feel and act that way. You will not lose yourself by allowing the full range of feelings acknowledgment. When you express how you feel, you give permission to everyone to express theirs also. I am so glad you are getting some help with this and that you are finally ready to deal with it all. Thinking of you and wishing you the best!

katszeye said...

Snick -

I so feel your pain. It's a phase; stay strong and remember your CIO principles. My son (13 months) has slept really well since we went through CIO at about 6 months. He goes into his crib sleepy but wide awake. Right to sleep... usually. A few times he has gone through a phase of 2-3 days of screaming when put in his crib. It is so stressful. I swear it might be worse for those of us whose kids do usually go to sleep quietly/quickly since we have completely forgotten how to cope. You are not selfish for being bothered by the screaming. Hearing your child scream is one of the most stressful sounds.

Remember that it is OK to turn the monitor off for a few minutes. It's amazing how much this small act lowers the blood pressure.

This will pass. Remember that you are a super good mommy.

winecat said...

I know it's hard to believe but sad is really OK. It's part of the process.

Karen O's post is a perfect description of the whole tedious process that needs to be completed.

sending good thoughts your way.

LaurieD said...

It's a phase -- it's always a phase.
You're all going through a lot right now, but there may be ordinary things that are changing too: do the kids still nap? Maybe they don't need need as much sleep any more (in total). You could try reducing naptime by half an hour to get the time back in the evening. Or keep the nap and move bedtime.

Rachel said...

We live in a state where there has only been DST for a couple of years and it really does take a long time for kids to adjust to the time change, I think it was probably 6 weeks for us here, with my niece, and it was horrible. She was cranky all the time and just "out of sorts" until she got adjusted. You may be onto something with that.

ellemenope said...

Hi! Can I ask another question about your new fun espresso maker? How frothy does it get the milk? I have one of these: www.frothaulait.com and like it, but it seems to break down a lot. I would really like something that has less parts and doesn't need to be plugged in, so maybe I need what you have? The froth au lait really makes some great froth.

monica said...

Oh- I so totally get what you mean about bedtime. I have two boys (ages 5 and 8) and have always been on my own (SMC). I think single parents (ie those of us who have no partner at all and have the kids 100% of the time) really, really need bedtime to be early and quick,so that we can stay sane and not kill our beloved little ones. I did CIO and it worked perfectly - they are both great sleepers overall, BUT there are those times...when one or the other, or god forbid-both - can just not go to sleep, and it gets me totally bummed cause I can't get into my relaxed mode til there is no more chatter coming out of their room and the door stays closed.

Also - I have this absolutely WONDERFUL friend who has been there for me from the beginning with my kids - she comes over a lot and will read to them before bed, which is really great. The thing is that sometimes she reads to them way past their bed time - you think I'd love the favor, but the problem for me is - as long as they are still awake - even though they are happy and occupied,and I can be downstairs drinking (slurping, gulping) red wine, I can't really relax til they are actually asleep. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth!

Hope you enjoyed your dinner out.

Anonymous said...

I have a three year old daughter and we have had our sleep problems that is for sure, one thing to remeber is that it does go away....eventually. But when she went thru phase of taking an hour or so to fall asleep I started putting her to bed earlier. I know it seems silly but when you know that they need to be up early the next day it is nice to know that have had enough sleep. For us this is only an issue on school days, the other days she is allowed to sleep in. Just a thought and I hope it gets better.

Anonymous said...

So good to hear you are explaining your feelings and behavior to the kids. They are young but seemingly understand which is good.

Keep on doing this throughout their lives, so good to know that when Mom is feeling certain emotions it is NOT due to them.

I grew up with a depressive (you are not depressive, make no mistake of my intentions for posting this, you are dealing with grief)parent and how much better my self esteem would have been had I not thought every time said parent was down, depressed and uncommunicative it was MY fault.

Long winded, sorry but so glad to see how you have been dealing with your varied emotions in regard to the kids.

Anonymous said...

CIO done well does wonders. Not sure if you have tried. And unplug the monitor if you have one! Unless you live in a mansion the kids cries will wake you if need be.

A friend of mine (single mother) used earplugs for the second year of her son's life. She HAD to get some sleep and figured if he really needed her he would yell loud enough. Amazingly he became a great sleeper in a short period of time ;)

Anonymous said...

Snick, I am never as insightful as 99% of your readers, but I just so empathize with your situation. So many times reading your posts, I'm yelling 'yes yes yes! that's exactly how it is'. (thankfully that usually occurs in my head). I am also dealing with a kid who has sleep issues, although mine is in the morning. And I find myself edgier, not enjoying my 'me' time b/c I am expecting him to cry out for me or refuse to go back to sleep.

I like the soup analogy, too. BUT... I have also heard (I am only 6months out, so this may not be true) that this grief thing is always going to be with us. There is no 'being done' as some commenters have said.

I really think it's great that you went to see the social worker AND, more importantly, that you guys click. I guess we have to rip the bandaid off in order to heal. It's a painful process, that's for sure.

Thinking of you.

Angela said...

I think it's great that you are meeting with the social worker, you are being proactive and trying to let someone else help you and not walk this road alone. Yes, you are probably very emotional and maybe volatile right now, and this is completely understandable. Keep drinking those lattes. Snick, you constantly amaze me with your self awareness and ability to work things out emotionally. Thinking of you and the twins, hope you have a lovely Easter.

Tiffany said...

Listening to kids cry is never fun. I sometimes break down and start crying myself while muttering to myself - Please, please just go to sleep.

Annagrace said...

I wondered if my Boston reader was you...and I've been just awful about keeping in touch. J and I talk about you and the kids all the time and Pea's bedtime prayers include M&R but that's no excuse... I'm so glad you left a comment and your blog is amazing (can I link?) I can't wait for you guys to move out this way. I would LOVE to see you and the kids more and share more coffee/wine/food times...

buddha_girl said...

I hate the cryingscreamingyelling while falling asleep phases. Right now, Buddha can't get himself to sleep. I have to be there. It's a horror show. I feel your pain.

I'm glad you're seeing the social worker and are staying aware of your grief as well as your limits. That's huge stuff.

Extra hot be damned. I may have to get one of those latte things. You've inspired me.

Mel said...

Almost read your IDOLS post and in SA we are way behind with early auditions still. I am glad you are remembering to be kind to yourself. It is good the kids see the real you and you tell them how you feel. I think you are an awesome mom!

net said...

The emotions you are feeling after your visit with the social worker are normal. It will take a while for things to process out.

In the meantime, be good to yourself. Allow yourself to feel and process. And love the heck out of your babies!

Penny said...

I am glad to read that you tell your children how you are feeling, especially when you are feeling 'not happy'. My father died when I was young, and the only trauma I had in the wake of that event was my mother's withdraw and perpetual sadness, which she did not share with us (she just withdrew). I felt so alone, and only because the parent who was M.I.A. was still in my life.

Dorcasina said...

As you know, I'm a big fan of sadness; I prefer it to the next stage, which is the fading or erasure of some of the most intense memories and feelings--or at least their dwindling accessibility. I know that I got frustrated and tense when I was (unintentionally) holding things in, and there were many days where I lost it with my child, then sat on the floor with her and cried over how much I loved her, how much I missed him, and how unfair it was to both of us. I think it's great that you let your kids comfort you, and while I know how we chastise ourselves for losing our temper, or not having the patience of Job for each stage of their development, it's true of all parents--not just we forlorn ones. I've also found that my daughter is one of those who gets antsy/crabby/troublesome just before a new growth or development spurt--for her, it's generally at about 6 months after her birthday. So it is entirely possible that this is what Riley is doing, and it simply (ha!) coincides with a point where you are worn down and grieving. They are mysterious creatures, and I am forever reminding myself that my daughter is SO much more than the sum of my parenting. Much of what goes on in her is a mystery, and has to do with her, not with my limitations or foibles.
Sending love to you 3(4) from us 2(3).

Rachel said...

It sounds like you are starting to process your grief at last. I am glad you are seeing the social worker, even though it is painful right now.

I will echo what someone else said about giving yourself a time out. There's nothing wrong with just stepping out in the hallway, or putting them in a safe place while you take a moment for yourself.

And I hear you about bedtime. I look forward to that time too, and it's so hard when she doesn't go down easily.

Hope you enjoyed your night out.

{{{{Hugs}}}} I am thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Hi - longtime reader, do not know that I have ever commented.

Anyway, the sleep thing is a hard one - it is so difficult to have a good day after a hard night. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's book "Sleepless in America" is hands down the best book I've ever read on the subject of getting kiddos to sleep harmoniously. I just wanted to throw that out there in case you would like to read it.

You can read whatever chapters address your current problems first and then go back and read it straight through. It's basically just a course in how we sleep and what disturbs our sleep and how EVERYONE in the family can sleep better, with specific tips for kids from baby age on up. It has helped our family tremendously.

Take care.

Julia said...

I developed a latte habit as a refuge in my grief. My just me thing. So I say drink as many as you need.