Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why I Left, And Why I'm Back (or, How MC Got Her Groove Back)

Before I start typing any of this out, I want to send out a disclaimer of sorts. Please forgive me if some of this gets a bit "random" (as my kids would say).... I'm probably going to slip into stream of consciousness mode, in an effort to get everything out in the way of an explanation for my absence. And, I can almost guarantee that this is going to be excruciatingly long, so really..... get into a comfy chair, put your feet up, and read on, if you dare.....

Okay.... you've been goes......

As I mentioned, I slipped into another one of my "funks". This one was bad, and I got scared. I took to my bed for two days, barely getting up to do the minimal amount of stuff needed to take care of my kids. After forcing myself to get out of bed (and fighting the urge not to climb back in), I finally decided that I just simply couldn't do that anymore. I had to take my life back.

I did a LOT of thinking, and came to the conclusion that there were three major sources to my problem:

1) I know this might sound very strange, considering I've got a house full of people here, but there are a lot of times when I'm incredibly lonely. The only people I have to really talk to on a regular basis is a 3-year-old kid and a 78-year-old mother (who, for all intents and purposes, might as well be another 3-year-old kid!).

Yes, there is my husband, but he's a service technician, which means he's not usually available to talk much during the day, since he's up to his elbows (quite literally) in washers and dryers. And, when he comes home, he's dirty, he's hungry, and he's tired. He gets washed up, cooks dinner some nights, or just plain eats it on other nights, and then sits down on the couch for the remainder of the evening to watch TV.

In the first part of the post-dinnertime hours, my kids try to monopolize almost every single conversation we have, so we've learned not to try and have more private, "adult" conversations around them. In the latter part of the post-dinnertime hours, my husband fights tooth and nail not to pass out. So, it's pretty much like talking to a wall.

I do have all of my online buds (through my groups, and my blogs), but you all know how that goes... it's just not the same as having a "real life" friend. Someone you can go hang out with, or call up and talk to, for the most part.

All of my other friends are pretty much my age or older, and those who have kids have ADULT kids.... NONE of them have youngin's. They're also working full-time, and can't be imposed upon at work. And, since my nighttime is so busy, I can't really talk to anyone on the telephone until right about now, and most of my friends usually busy doing their own stuff, and aren't available to talk until much later in the evening. And frankly, being the mom of three kids... my bedtime has gotten considerably earlier. I can't be on the phone until all hours of the night anymore (without suffering miserably the next day, that is).

So... all of that being said.... it's been really hard not to be able to have adult conversations with anyone lately. I miss being a grown-up. I miss having friends that I can pick up the phone and talk to, whenever I need to. And, most of all, I miss having any kind of private time with my husband.

2) I've been leading a VERY sedentary life lately, and there's no one to blame for that one but me. I think, with the passing of my husband's cousin (who was only four years older than I), I got really nervous. Although I'm blessed to say that I wasn't plagued with her health issues, who's to say that I wouldn't wind up with some of them somewhere in the near future? I'm overweight and don't move around a whole lot.... a poster child for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and all of the other not-so-lovely ailments of a person who suffers from the "O" word (sorry... I can't even bring myself to say it). Pretty scary stuff for the mom of three young kids to think about.

It was actually thinking about my littlest one, and she got me the most worried. I couldn't bear to think about leaving her at a young age, and missing SO MUCH of her adult life. And, putting myself (and my body) in the position it was in wasn't helping.

Not only that, but because my life consisted of so much inertia, so did hers, by default. She started to become cranky, whiny, miserable, and completely out of bounds.... all because she was bored senseless. We made a good pair, she and I... a bored, bratty little kid, and a depressed, crying overweight mom. Life was just a party!

So, I decided to take my life back. Which means, I need to learn to be a bit selfish. Of course, I'm not going to put myself so far up on a pedestal that I neglect my children; they most certainly will come first... ALWAYS. But, I need to have a little bit of "me" time, even if that means going to the public library one night a week, plopping in a chair (maybe with one of the Stephenie Meyer books! :), and reading for an hour. The "old" me would always bring at least one kid, to lighten the load for my husband (who, by the way, winds up being left alone in this house waaaaaayyyy more than I do), but I really need to capture some of my "space" back (and those of you who have a 3-year-old jammed semi-permanently up your butt KNOW what I'm talking about!).

I also need to take my little one's needs into consideration, because I'm not being fair to her. So, I made a vow that, on nice days, I'll take her OUTSIDE to blow off some steam. We'll either go to one of the local parks, or go for a walk, or find something else to do where she can run around, giggle and play, and get herself all tuckered out. And let me tell you... she's LOVIN' this "new Mom"! :)

The other promises I made to myself were to exercise more regularly. I dusted off my old "Walk Away The Pounds" videos, and will begin by doing the 1 Mile tape, three times a week, and I'll work my way up to the 2 Mile, then the 3 Mile, and so forth. I've also vowed to eat better. No more starving myself all day, to "save" the food for the kids (again, being a bit selfish here), and then loading up my dinner plate with carbs and protein, and topping that off with a big heaping bowl of ice cream!

We have to be very careful about buying food on a budget, and I was using that as an excuse for not buying more healthy options. Like I told my husband today, if I substitute some of the junk I've been buying on a regular basis with some healthier alternatives, then the grand total shouldn't change that much.

The BIG thing I had to change was the mindset of eating better to "lose weight", although I'm sure I probably will. Since I am a big girl, and have a bunch of weight to lose, I get frustrated, I get overwhelmed ('cause it's not coming off fast enough), and I give up. I've got to keep reinforcing the fact that I'm eating better to get healthier, not only for my kids, but for me, too. If the weight starts coming off, that's terrific!

I have work really hard to convince myself that I'm not doing this work to wind up looking like Cindy Crawford (heck... even Cindy Crawford doesn't look like Cindy Crawford anymore! :), and that what I'm doing has to be a gradual, for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of thing. This is mostly because I'm one of those kinds of people who's really good at losing weight (and have done so by following pretty much every diet program under the sun), but I've never been good at keeping it off for good. I need to learn how to do that part.

So... I'm three days into this newer "lifestyle", and so far, so good. I've done my workout tapes twice already, and Miss S. and I took a nice little walk together before we went to the park today. It felt like quite an accomplishment, let me tell ya! I've also been making a conscious effort to eat something that's fiber-filled for breakfast (Go Lean Crunch is the BEST!), having a light lunch, and since I tend to get hungrier at night, having a dinner that's normally portioned, with a BIG salad. I've also stopped drinking soda, and have replaced it with water (can't give up the coffee, though.... sorry!).

The other thing I've had to come to grips with was getting a better handle on my depression. My doc seems to believe that it's mostly hormonally induced (since I'm in the throws of perimenopause), and he's suggested that I finally "up" my dosage of Wellbutrin to two times a day instead of once. When he initially prescribed this medication to me, he suggested that I start off taking it twice a day. I did, and it made me so wired that I couldn't sleep. So, he said if once a day was working all right for me, then that was fine with him, too. But he'd keep my prescription at two times a day... just in case. Well, two years later, and based on the conversation he and I had a few days ago, I'm back on two days a week.

Let me tell you... that decision was gut-wrenching. It really was hard to come to terms with having to "rely" on that medication more. But, the way I looked at it.... I have hypothyroidism, and I take Levothroid every day for it. It's necessary, because it keeps my pituitary gland working correctly, and keeps me from getting VERY sick. The Wellbutrin is doing the same thing for me, only on an emotional level. It's keeping me from getting "sick".

I've been taking two tablets a day for three days now, too... and I've already felt a difference in my mood. The only way I can describe it is the feeling of a veil being lifted from my face, allowing me to breathe freer and easier again. I did have a really bad headache last night (forcing me to go lie down early), but I'm not sure whether that's a side effect. I don't have one yet tonight, so maybe it was just a change-of-weather thing, seeing as how we went from it being in the '80's and muggy, to the mid '60's and dry.

I also had a discussion with my husband last night, asking him to try and support me, and to let me know if he notices any changes, even if they're subtle. He actually admitted to me that he was scared for me, because he knew that I didn't want to act the way I behave when my "funks" come on, and he wants me to get better, too. It really suprised me to see that he could actually notice a difference in my behavior. And yes, I did tell him that I needed him to really try to talk to me more, but I know I couldn't make him do it; the decision needed to be his. He agreed to try, and that was enough for me.

3) There are definitely some outside influences that I need to work on, too. Getting more money into this house is one (I don't care what ANYONE says... when you're constantly strapped for cash, it wreaks havoc on your emotions), and reeling in my mom is the other.

A few months back, I inquired about a new job I got through an e-mail from a local after school program for middle school kids. They were looking for some people to come on board as part-time counselors. I replied to the director, expressing interest. She quickly e-mailed me back, we chatted back and forth a couple of times, she asked me to come in with my resume in hand, and must have liked what she saw and heard, 'cause she hired me on the spot!

I knew her summer was going to be an incredibly busy one: a planned trip to El Salvador, to our town's "sister" city; a move of the entire facility from one location to another; a certification visit once the new location was up and running, and; a vacation week. When I didn't hear any updates from her, I sent her a "touch base" e-mail, and she told me that not only had she NOT forgotten about me, she was thinking about adding more to my initial position, and wished to ultimately make me an Administrator of their facility. Because of my level of expertise, and my past job experiences, she thought that I'd be a perfect fit for a position she'd had in the works for quite some time.

Of course, we have to discuss all of the logistics that this position entails -- primarily making sure that my two daughters are taken care of in terms of some sort of daycare for S., and after school transportation and care for R. And... I also have to REALLY think about whether I want to be thrust into a full-time job, after being a full-time stay-at-home-mom for the past four years (thinking about going back to work all those hours makes my heart race!).

Regardless of whether I take on the full-time or the part-time position, the extra income, and the fact that I'm CONTRIBUTING money to our household, would be a wonderful thing. Don't get me wrong... my husband has never once made me feel even the teeniest bit inadequate because I don't work. He always refers to our money as just that... our money. And I really do love him for it. But, I've been working since a month after I turned 16, up until four years ago, and it feels awfully strange not to be paying my own way. Does that make sense?

Anyway... I should know more within a week or so, once the director is back and done with everything else that made her summer absolutely nuts. When I know something, I'll be happy to share.

As for my mom.... well, I've been writing passages that will eventually lead up to the "here and now". But, in a nutshell, she's been experiencing "panic attacks" (I'm not sure if that's the correct term for whatever it is she's going through, but that's what she calls them, so that's what they'll be termed, until I know the appropriate medical terminology for it), and basically... she's deemed me to be her "babysitter". This essentially means that I'm not allowed to leave my house, to go ANYWHERE, without her. Now, stop, and just absorb that for a minute. Think about what your life would be like, if you had to deal with those kinds of ramifications, ON TOP OF the needs of your own children, and while also trying to squeeze out a little bit of time for yourself. Maddening, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong... I love my mother. She's been a good mom, and is a great grandmother. But.... to have to have her "tag along" to EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY PLACE you go.... oh, my!

AND, whenever I was able to "sneak out" on my own, I'd later hear things like, "When I noticed your car wasn't in the driveway, I got so nervous, but I knew you wouldn't go far." Huh????? What does THAT mean??? Does that mean I can't take a ride to Nashua, New Hampshire, if I want to do some tax-free shopping? Or does that mean I can't travel to the next town????

I hope you don't think of me as the cruel and evil daughter, but I truly do believe that having that kind of pressure and responsibility on one's shoulders would make even the most stoic of people want to take to their beds, too!

So, anyway.... there's my long, rambling post about my numerous epiphanies.

If you've made it all the way through, you deserve a cookie. Low fat, of course. ;)


nate the great said...

yipee! I read the whole thing..and I will have a cookie for me and a cookie for you for writing it..and mine will not be low fat!!! HA hA !I hate it when I start feeling the way that you are feeling is a hard thing to get out of...but at least your meds are working for ya! As far as teh mother thing goes...sheesh...good luck with that...I love my mom to but would not want her around all the time...heck no!!! You will recieve many blessings in the next life for doing far as the job goes...Man, I know the feeling of being strapped from time to time also, and there have been days when I wish that I had a degree or something to go and get a job...but that will all have to come later now...I could not leave of course...if I had to, I would. You do what you gotta do right? Well, good luck with it all, and I hope that it all works out for you! I guess that big old package of chocolate chip cookies and cake that I just sent to you ...well, go ahead and eat it, and return to the new routine tomorrow!!! natalie

Final score:Boys 5 Girls 0 said...

sorry Cheryl...that above post is from me...I guess taht I was signed in under Nate's blog!

Mama C. said...

That's okay, sweetie... I figured out it was you! :)

Thank you for:

1) Taking the time to read the entire, daggum thing;

2) For agreeing with me, on most of it (except for the low-fat part, but I really can't blame you for that one! ;), and

3) For being my friend. If I ever get out to Utah, I'm DEFINITELY knockin' on your door! ;)

Oh, and about the job thing... one of the stipulations that HAS to happen, whether it's f/t or p/t, is that Miss S. will go to the daycare on site, so that I know where she is, know that she's a few doors down from me, and that I can pop in and say "hi" to her anytime I want. And, Miss R. will be picked up from school every day and I can bring her back with me (on the days when she doesn't have activities, that is). This was the Director's suggestion, not mine. Pretty neat, huh? She seems like a real gem. My prayer is that everything works out the way it's supposed to. Now... just to hold out patience until I find out exactly what that "supposed to" is!


Susy said...

Holy cow you and I are kindred spirits...As I mentioned before you and I have to have a conversation. I have been going through the same damn thing!You have me to console you I know what you are feeling.
Miss Susy

Karyn said...

I'm glad you are doing better. And am excited for you about the job opportunity that has come for you. I think most of use know the need for extra money.

I'm keeping you in my prayers. Hope all goes well.

I hope you feel less lonely being able to work. It helps when you are allowed to have 'friends' at work and socialize a little. I know how it feels like to feel lonely. That's me alot- but then I just have me. (And my nephews when they want aunt time over mom time.)

Erica said...

that's a lot on your plate.
I think everyone has already said good things, so I'll just toss in some hugs.

(being a mom can be rather lonely that is for sure.)