28 July 2008

Treading Water

I've been wanting to post but I've been lacking things to say.

I'm in one of those phases where all I do is what I have to do to get by. I've been doing the bare minimum of chores around the house, the bare minimum that's required of me at work, and phone calls have been unreturned. I have a stack of thank you notes from the twins birthday party, which was a month ago, sitting on my desk, written but unsent. I just can't find it in me to put the addresses on the envelopes.

My parenting has been bare minimum, too. Maddie and Riley get fed and bathed, but I'm not oozing creativity or enthusiasm during our playtime. I've been stricter and more likely to resort to dogmatic discipline rather than Playful Parenting. We have been spending more time at home on the weekends as I just can't muster the energy to pack us off to the park.

Oh, sure, I'm tired. I'm always tired. Work has been suddenly very busy, and the twins have not been sleeping well. But this apathy has come over me enough times since John died for me to know that it's also part of my grief cycle. I'm going to get up one of these days and be over it. I'll start posting pictures on the twins' website again and I'll finally get around to closing out the last of John's retirement accounts that I have to deal with. I'll get rid of the piles of crap in my basement. I'll do something in the evening besides sit on my couch and watch TV. I'll stop counting every minute until the kids go to bed.

But much as I'd like to, I can't force that day to come any sooner than it does. It will come. It always has before. I'm impatient, but resigned. This weary, uninspired person is not someone I like very well, but someone I've gotten to know better over the past year and four months. I wish I knew what purpose these sluggish periods served, what healing they are bringing to my grieving mind and body. I try to be gentle with myself in these times, but it's hard not to start berating myself for being fat and lazy. Being hard on myself certainly isn't helping anything.

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I finally have a friend at work. My coworkers are a perfectly friendly lot, for the most part, but despite being at this job for nearly six months now, it's taken until the last few weeks for me to connect with someone beyond water cooler chit-chat. It's nice to have someone to walk to Starbucks with and someone who cares how the weekend was. I hadn't realized how much I missed that kind of camaraderie in the workplace.

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Time for me to peel my apathetic self off the couch to get some ice cream. Chocolate peanut butter. Not to gloat, but I'm loving this peanut butter thing. Oh, yeah.

36 comments:

Giovanna said...

And yet another reason why I think you're Wonderwoman!
I'm exhausted with you.
I'm watching tv with you.
I'm sipping Starbucks with you.
Nothing wrong w/that!

Astrogirl426 said...

It's hard to do (I've yet to figure out how to do it consistently), but just trust your body and mind to know what it means. You don't necessarily need to know the Why behind the phase you're in right now. It will still serve its purpose, regardless. It would be less frustrating, unquestionably, to know. But sometimes we don't, and that's ok too. The universe will provide.

And good for you finding someone at work to be friends with. It's hard, I totally feel that. So you see, you ARE productive in this time of rest, and the universe has provided! :)

Watercolor said...

Have you ever read The Spoon Theory? Google it. Although she wrote it as a way to explain what it is like living with a chronic illness, I think it may also apply to someone in grief. Some days, you just don't have as many spoons as you do other days and that's just the way it is. Hugs!

Deanna said...

Ugh...trust me I know how you feel... I have a group I chat with everyday and I haven't been around in a few...just not feeling it.

Also I have a stack of Thank You's that need to get out too...

Hang in there!!!

~Deanna

Eva said...

We have two parents at home splitting the load you do every night... and I still usually collapse exhausted and veg in front of the TV, or, at this very moment, the computer with my ice cream. And it takes us months to get through thank you cards. So please don't be hard on yourself!

Allison said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who counts the minutes until bedtime too.

mames said...

i am glad you are being kind to yourself and allowing your self to be where you are. the choc p.b. sounds just right. hugs.

Julia said...

I don't know what the purpose is, beyond hibernation, which is how I think about it. I am sure in your case there is also the simple physical exhaustion part too-- single parenting of twins can't possibly be easy, and I think you are not giving yourself enough credit there.

Yay for work friends. Especially those who walk to Starbucks with you.

Amy said...

If you are doing the bare minimum and the world is not caving in on you then keep on doing the bare minimum until you feel up to more. Give yourself permission to enjoy what little free time you have to spend doing what YOU want to do.

In time you will probably feel more motivated and energetic but for right now? Keep on doing what you are doing. But cut the damned GUILT!

(Says one formerly anal retentive woman who is learning to shut out the guilt and enjoy the quiet times. No reason in hell the house has to be clean before I 'do MY thing'. Have mantra'd myself to realize no one gives a darn how clean the house is but me...)

Keep on at it Snick. One day at a time and carving out YOU time each evening. Cripes when my twins were the age yours were they went to bed earlier than any children I knew and there I was, counting down the minutes! Nothing to be ashamed of, kids can be exhausting, nevermind working full time.

BrooklynGirl said...

What Eva said.

Hang in there and be kind to yourself.

craftyland said...

I'm glad you found someone to hang out with at work. It makes the day better for sure.

Kellie said...

Twins are enough work with two parents. It always amazes me how well you do with them, and working too... I think you are entitled to an evening or two on the couch in front of the TV.

Take care and enjoy your ice-cream!

Crash Course Widow said...

I hated that treading water stage too. (I probably would have calling it the trapped/suffocating/slogging-through-the-$hi* stage, but your version has a much better spin to it. =))

That stage really started for me around 2 years and ~1-2 months, and it lasted for a solid 9 months. Ouch. I was so good and stayed so busy the first year after my husband died (and thus patted myself on the back for doing oh-so-well [rolling my eyes in hindsight]) that the 3rd year and that "treading water" phase were a total shock. (I chose to sell "our" house and move and then dated someone for 6 months in the 2nd of grief, so really, that 2nd year didn't count for achieving much healing or good grieving.) And I hated every moment of it but was powerless to do anything about it. And yes, it finally lifted all on its own, despite my attempts to lift it willfully on my own. Wish I could figure out what the magic trick was this time, so I can duplicate it next time as needed. (Oh, wait...that's right...I can't force it or make it happen...sigh.)

Even if you don't write any supposedly "inspired" posts while you're treading water (believe me, I understand that apathy and inability to write something that feels of much substance when you're having off days; I struggle with it too), I'll still be here checking.

Hang in there! And hooray that I'm not the only widowed mommy who was doing the bare minimum all the time. =)

Hugs,
Candice

tree town gal said...

Snick - I've been thinking about you. Glad you understand your self-perservation mode. It's a blip but can feel like an eternity, I'm sure. The kids are great - I'm sure they don't notice the lack of perfectionistic parenting... they are just happy to be with momma. Do take care and be very gentle and kind to yourself. And, yes, like the others I'm very glad you found a buddy at work... it does make the time more palatable.

SabHop said...

Don't be so hard on yourself - enjoy the ice cream. I'm still beating myself up over the months of fog I spent in my post-divorce and shock from my father's death (happened in same month) where I came home from work - fed my daughter her dinner and checked out watching Sex and the City on DVD all night long. I can never get that time back - BUT I could have been doing worse things and she was happily playing and running in and out of her room and touching base with me while I went through the motions. Rest, reflect, rejuvenate anyway you can - yay for Starbucks friend!

moo said...

You know yourself. You know it's OK to continue to grieve. Grief is not a quick trip to the store ... it's a long, winding pathway and there may not ever be a store at the end of that road.

I think it's OK to be a bare minimum parent sometimes. I think it's OK to put yourself first and take care of your needs.

suzi said...

I think you are very strong and rock as a mom! Sounds great that you have someone at work you can go to Starbucks with. That's vital! And, FWIW, I totally count the minutes til bedtime, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

It's normal to go through these sluggish periods, even not having gone through all that you've been through. Which is a lot.

I know you take care of the kids and take them to the doctor, but do you ever take yourself?

Have your thyroid checked out. That's something you could overlook with your grief and it's something that can be treated and make you feel so much better.

Anonymous said...

If I remember from an older post, your memorial for John was in August, so perhaps it is the approaching anniversay of the memorial that is behind your grieving set-back. The in between, normal, times are the healing periods. What you are feeling now is just part of the grieving process. Eventually you will be able to remember John with more happiness and less sense of loss.

Hang in there!

Sandy said...

I think women tend to expect more from themselves than men do. My BIL is a single father of two, and I have never gotten a thank you note from him. Whether he sends them or not had never even crossed my mind... I know my sweet nephews love getting treats from their Aunt Sandy, and I'm delighted to pick out gifts and spoil my nephews. That is all the motivation I need! I suspect that's how your family feels!

Mama Nabi said...

If I may? The stack of thank you cards? Put them aside. Don't let those hang over your head. I moved the week after LN's birthday party - some parents know what was going on and some don't. I am sure some may be expecting a thank-you card... and most probably don't. I don't expect a thank-you card from a mom. Especially now that I am a single one...

It may seem like a tiny aspect but you'd be surprised how much lighter you feel when you stop expecting so much of yourself, more than anyone would even dare to.

I think you are just fabulous. And moments of doubt and exhaustion? Normal even for a mommy of one, WITH help. You, my lady, are not SuperWoman, you know... just a multitasking SpiderWoman! xoxoxox You, ESPECIALLY YOU, are allowed to take a break, be given a break...

Tiffany said...

I am sorry your are feeling depressed - you have every reason to be. I guess try to stay strong, being a single parent is VERY hard work - I don't know how you do it.

Lori said...

There is nothing that a bowl...or two...of ice cream can't cure. Be patient with yourself. I hope good days are right around the corner for you.

mek said...

I remember when I was pregnant and tired all the time despite doing, it seemed to me, absolutely nothing. It helped to be reminded that there was a lot going on inside that I wasn't aware of in any detailed sense.

You're in a different place, but I bet there's a lot going on inside that is important, necessary, and not filing detailed reports with your awareness.

Ride the apathy wave and enjoy the ice cream.

Holly said...

I admire you for everything you do, it's HARD. I hate to hear you're in a funk and I'm hoping it gets better for you soon. I love your blog, I can only dream of writing as well as you:) Hang in there...you have many people pulling for you:)

Anonymous said...

I am a new reader and have been thinking of you and your kids often (mine are half-Korean, too). I wish I were in Boston so I could have coffee with you and take care of those thank yous! Unfortunately, the best I can do is to send hugs and good wishes your way. Hope today is going better for you!

Anonymous said...

I am a new reader and have been thinking of you and your kids often (mine are half-Korean, too). I wish I were in Boston so I could have coffee with you and take care of those thank yous! Unfortunately, the best I can do is to send hugs and good wishes your way. Hope today is going better for you!

Becky said...

Having friends at work is definitely key. I have one or two here, but people mainly keep to themselves, which I don't like. I miss the family-like atmosphere of you-know-where. I feel like I don't know anything about most of my co-workers.

OTRgirl said...

I hear you. For seven years, from December 6 through January 6, I just shut down. I didn't call people. Didn't invite anyone over. Barely cleaned the house. Read a novel a day. I. just. didn't. care. For me that was the core of "I don't have a Mom anymore".

You're so right to just be gentle with yourself and try not to fuss with feeling guilty for the apathy. It's cool that you know it will pass, but you can't push it out of the way.

OTRgirl said...

Oh yeah, do check out Spoon Theory. It's a great metaphor.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/the_spoon_theory/

Anonymous said...

Grief is such a weird rollercoaster. Take care of yourself first...kind of like they say on the airplane when the oxygen masks come down, you have to take that air in first before passing it on to the kiddos. I hope that made some sense.
Just remembering times similar to those when I felt I was wading in jello thigh-high. Crappy times. Hope you feel better soon.

Sandi said...

Even when John was alive and healthy, we often counted the minutes until the kids went to bed. That's part of being a parent to toddlers.

As for the rest--I hear you. I've been there and I'm sure I'll be there again. The only thing that keeps me from being there now is working off of guilt that the summer was ruined for the kids last year and I'm working triple time to make up for it.

Kerrie said...

Sole parents doing it really hard, sole parents in grief do it so much harder. Parenting toddlers is really hard work and the energy levels needed are often far greater than what you have in reserve at times. Just getting by and treading water is okay...I'm glad you are able to read the signs and know why you are feeling this way. Perhaps it's your body & mind's way of making you slow down and taking some time to do it slowly.

Please don't berate yourself for counting the minutes until Maddie & Riley are in bed...so many parents do that...I still do it and my children are 14 and 12 and very capable of doing so much for themselves (the parenting input is just as draining but in a different way at this age).

I was a sole parent for 12 years, it was my choice to continue with my pregnancy knowing that my daughter's father was refusing to be part of our lives. I was having a coffee with a friend one afternoon when she commented that I was the most "together" sole parent that she knew. I laughed out loud and remarked that I often felt like a swan...calm and serene and gliding along on the surface but underneath my legs were paddling like fury to keep me afloat. Your post tonight reminded me of this conversation as do you in many ways...I can almost guarantee that on the surface it looks like you have it all under control, but underneath, well, sometimes that's quite different.

Take care, give yourself over to the less than stellar moments...can you take a day off work occasionally to either spend at home with the children or just by yourself..??

I'm so pleased you have a friend at work...bravo, bravo...enjoy..!!!

moo said...

Hang in there and take your own time. It is what it is and it will come back around. Hugs

django's mommy said...

Again, thank you for putting my feelings into words. That's exactly it- I am just getting by this week. Hopefully we will both snap out of this soon. xoxoxo

Shonda Little said...

I just found your blog, so I am going to leave something I'm sure you've gotten a million times.
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.
I have two young kids and my husband is the iconic equivalent to Elvis in their worlds. I can only imagine how much you wish you had him to vent to and how much they could know him.
From a stranger on the web, you have my total awe and admiration in your simple ability to continue to blog at all.
Keep it up. And if you are having a bad day or bad week or bad month, poor it on your internet friends.