Isn’t there always one more thing that needs to get done before you go to bed. And if you are like me, you always remember what that thing is before you fall asleep. Right? Last night, I realized I didn’t pack a lunch for Jenna. Normally, this would be no big deal and she is certainly old enough to pack her own lunch. But, today she is leaving on a 3 day bus trip to Virginia and had to leave at 5:30 this morning. And to her credit, she packed her own bag for the trip so the least I could do was make her lunch. Of course, I completely forgot to do it and it was 11:30 pm before it came to mind. And then, the “oh-shits” began in my head: Oh shit – Will I remember to pack her lunch in the morning? Oh shit – Will I get up early enough to make it? Oh-shit -What do I have for her to eat? As a vegetarian, packing lunches on the go for her can be quite challenging. Yes, I suppose I could have just jumped out of bed right then and there to make her lunch, but I was exhausted. Before I could will myself awake, I simply conked out. There was no freaking way I could have done one more thing in my already busy day. I managed to get everything else done on my to do list including: sending the kids off to day camp, going to the dentist and then to work, making a healthy dinner (complete with zucchini fries – yum!), washing, drying, and putting away the dishes, and running 2 loads of laundry. I also managed to remember to go to the ATM for spending money for Jenna’s trip. BONUS POINTS! Luckily, I woke up in time to make her lunch and there was plenty of food for her to take on the long bus ride. Although she is not a morning person, I was able to coax her out of bed at an ungodly hour, feed her breakfast and pack her last minute pair of shorts that she asked me to wash. Today, I’m off to a great start and it is only 6 am. I just can’t help but wonder what that “one more thing” is going to be before my head hits the pillow tonight.
This week has been completely for the birds and I mean that literally. I’m not sure what kind of feathered friends built a nest in the siding underneath my bedroom window–but it is time for them to fly the coop. All night long, I hear tweeting, chirping and sometimes screeching. flipping the bird free as a bird fine feathered friends ruffled feathers
Some people tell me I put my entire life on Facebook, but it isn’t really true. Yes, I do enjoy posting on a daily basis–sometimes even several times a day. I like to “check in” at different locations like a trendy restaurant with friends or while sitting at my son’s baseball game. On occasion, I’ve been known to kvetch about lengthy to-do lists, wishing for a clone to magically appear and save the day. Here is what I didn’t write about on Facebook this year:
- My mom’s back surgery and her not-so-smooth recovery;
- Another close relative’s unexpected open heart surgery that took place two weeks after my mom came home from the hospital. And the surgery took place on Jenna’s 14th birthday;
- A second surgery for him about a month later – both of which were life-saving procedures;
- My whirlwind initiation into the sandwich generation–taking care of aging parents and dependent children who understood everything that was going on and had lots of questions I didn’t know how to answer;
- Dealing with all of the above and working a full time job where I planned, implemented and attended 2 back-to-back holiday programs and 4 major events in the course of 3 months. This would be a challenge for even the most experienced program director under normal circumstances;
- Trying so hard to be “on” for everyone else in my personal and professional life even though on the inside my light was turned off;
- My futile attempts to attain perfection as I kept track of a jam-packed calendar of kids’ activities, meetings, and doctors’ appointments. I would spend many early mornings filling out forms, checking homework, cleaning the house and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Needless to say, the first half of 2015 was rough for me. Checking in on Facebook from the surgical waiting room at Jefferson Hospital or from the intensive cardiac care unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was not possible. I was so overwhelmed by both experiences and I couldn’t bear to read the comments which would surely follow. Have you ever noticed how sometimes support is incredibly wonderful and other times it can be suffocating? I wasn’t prepared for either scenario. So I kept it all inside–which turned out not to be a good idea either. As a result of all of the above and some other underlying factors, I also kept the following aspect of my life off of Facebook – I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My symptoms included shaking and crying often for no particular reason, total exhaustion, out of the blue panic attacks, stomach issues, and an overall loss of appetite. I would literally stare at a small, plastic container of Greek yogurt willing myself to eat the whole thing—often leaving half of it untouched. And I LOVE Greek yogurt! What started this? I don’t know the exact cause because there isn’t one thing I can pin it on. However, my fears of not getting everything done and done well may have been what ultimately did me in. Ever since grade school, I’ve been known as the conscientious and dependable one. My teachers even wrote it on my report cards. People rely on those qualities in me every day and I thrive on that. I give 110% to everything I do with passion and determination, but I guess I just ran out of steam. My grandmother used to say do everything, wear everything, and enjoy everything in the best of health. Boy, she was so right! I am happy to report that everyone is healthy–including me–and we are all enjoying life again. I continue to bounce back thanks to the love and support from my amazing family and closest friends as well as some excellent doctors and a little medication. 🙂 So why am I sharing this with you now? This blog is called Life Without A Manual for a good reason. Sometimes life throws you curve balls that hit you square in the head. Very often you don’t see it coming. You become so dizzy, confused, and upset that you think you can’t find a way out–until eventually you do find a way out. THERE IS NO MANUAL. But there are people around you who love you who can pick you back up, be there in your time of need, get you through the hard days, and help you move forward. To those people who were there for me, I am sending you a heartfelt thank you. You all know who you are. There is always a way out and I hope that sharing some of my story will help others who may be suffering in silence.
Actually, I am ready. I’m ready for my house to be filled with piles of camp laundry to wash, dry and put away. (Did I really just say that?) I’m ready to wake up to the smiles of my children first thing in the morning. I’m ready for someone to call me Mom again. Camp Heisman has been swell. Scott and I have reconnected and spent lots of quality time together. Long summer walks and great conversations have been a key part of our staycation. Day trips, dinners out, working hard at our jobs, and hanging out with good friends was a big part of our “camp” activities. Meanwhile, our children enjoyed a wonderful 3 1/2 weeks at overnight camp connecting with old friends, making new ones, pushing themselves past their comfort zones, solving their own problems, and spreading their wings. On Sunday, they will come home and the rest of our summer will begin. Jenna will take her place as a CIT at day camp while Andrew joins another bunk of friends. We will put Tube Night back on the calendar on Wednesdays and head over to our local swim club on a regular basis. And an amazing family vacation is only weeks away. Some of our friends send their kids to overnight camp for both sessions and they encourage us to do the same. I applaud them for continuing to support their children as they spread their wings, but it is not my plan to follow suit. While I love to watch the kids grow as people, I also want them to keep planting some roots at home. Soon enough, college will take them away from us for much longer periods of time. Vacations with their friends will be the priority for them as they continue to fly away from our nest and start their own lives. So, we have decided to send them for one session of camp only (as long as we can afford it!). But then we want them home with us–while they are still legally required to be there. 🙂 Meanwhile, bring on the laundry, the camp stories, the sleepovers, the smiles, the constant shout outs demanding something from me. I’m ready for them to come home.