My go-to phrase this summer has been "holy smack" - which is code for "I keep discovering new levels of physical overwhelm." There is a lot going on, most of it less than thrilling, and some of it downright awful. Plus not-writing is not good for my mental health. (Kind of like how not-sleeping isn't working out for my mental health either.)
It's hard to write though when I'm feeling so negative. I get in a place mentally where everything that actually expresses my experienced reality sounds whiney, but if I try to write more positively it lacks any semblance of authenticity. Living with imperfect mental health is such fun.
It's summer break, I have all 5 (5!) of my kids home all day, in a house full of unfinished projects and homeless things waiting for their homes to be built. I cannot even begin to stay abreast of the clutter, I am swimming and drowning in clutter in that slow-mo dream chase scene sense. It makes me grumpy.
Between my parents trying to get their house ready to sell (and my dad having already moved ahead to Chicago, and that's it own whole story but it's not my story) and my sister about to get married - lots of extended family upheaval. Thankfully nothing tragic, but just disruptive (to our efforts to make headway in the chaos at home... every weekend is spoken for the rest of summer.)
You know what is my pet-peeviest peeve? The thing that gets under my skin and makes me absolutely nuts? Things that go missing inexplicably. So currently that's my prescription sunglasses, though the list has been much longer at previous points this week. The craziest stuff sprouts legs and walks away at my house and it makes me bonkers. My children embrace irrational behavior with wild abandon. There's a constant soundtrack looping in my head asking "why? why? why? why? why?"
With all of that on my perma-front-burner, I have to manage my emotional energy pretty carefully. Which pretty much means that Facebook is always a bad idea. I have to be hopeful that true digital natives will be smarter about how they engage in rhetoric on social media than my generation is. I know it's human nature to seek echo chambers and content that reinforces existing biases, but hopefully kids will eventually figure out that the things they put out on the interwebs are more like giving a speech at graduation than they are like speaking to a room of like-minded friends. But really, the safest bet is never to assume anyone you speak to is 'like-minded,' because at some point in your opinions or experience, you're going to differ. So, the rule-of-thumb 'seek first to understand, then to be understood' - it's sound and seldom minded. Let's just collectively recommit to doing better, ok?
(I guess I can promote that behavior because I'm not afraid of being wrong, as many are. I do still have the socially conditioned irrational fear of being rejected though, so I'm sympathetic to all socially conditioned irrational fears. I get how hard it is to be perfectly logical, and get to practice being sympathetic to intense irrationality at least 12 hours a day.)
Mostly though, at this point I would just really like to devote an hour or two each day to doing things that make life more pleasant or joyful for myself, and being the kind of introverted, aesthetically sensitive nerd that I am, that would probably look something like fixing myself a cup of tea and perusing a gardening catalogue IN A CLEAN, WELL-LIT ROOM. BEFORE MIDNIGHT. WITHOUT SPENDING 2 HOURS CLEANING IT FIRST. Maybe while listening to some moody Billie Holiday.
Mostly I'm just saying that Virginia Wolf was on to something.
There are lots of funny moments in this phase of my life, and I suppose I will feel a bit lonely when things slow down someday. But I will also, I hope, be sleeping more regularly by then which means I will be infinitely better equipped to handle that sentimentality than I am to handle my current intensity. It's just... really intense. Constantly having short people hanging from my body.....
In my efforts to live vertically by my bootstraps, I turn in a lot of spare moments to beautiful or exceptional stimuli (well, that and emotional compulsive eating...) A lot of things that are beautiful feel kind of flimsy or cloyingly indulgent next to my reality, and unfortunately all the best beautiful things are openly wrestling with the complexity of humanity, which I'm also not well-equipped to deal with in my state of running on vapors. I vacillate between the two impulses and can't spend much time with either one before I start to get emotionally seasick.
So yes, the takeaway is that I'm perpetually just barely hanging in there... yet again. The perpetual part being what makes it exceptional. I wish I had the emotional turgor to be more springy, optimistic, ambitious; to just be a bigger personality than I am. Bigger than my kids - that I could influence their choices and behavior without having to do behavioral gymnastics (which are exhausting) to try to convince them that what I want/need them to do was their idea in the first place. I need charisma and I could not be further from charismatic right now. I'm constantly leaning into my most insecure mind, trying to tip it toward more rational and level-headed thoughts and away from a pessimism and insecurity so deep and wide that I fear it would take me years and miles to dig myself out if I let my guard down. Maybe half of that phenomenon is mental health, and the other half is just what all women deal with in a culture that is emotionally brutal towards women and caretakers.
But hey - there is a fair amount of delight thrown in this mix. There's Bunny's Margot Tenenbaum face at her first ballet recital (dress rehearsal).
(Which, she surprised me and was delightful and obedient for her actual performance. With a low-grade fever no less.)
There's all my kids being madly in love with swimming lessons, and the ease with which I can hand them over to their teachers and then sit in the shade with the baby for half an hour.
There's the odd set of circumstances that had us dog-sitting for two weeks, and my kids finally learning how to fall in love with a dog. (Mr Renn remains unconverted, feel free to proselytize)
The Captain's sentiments about my parents' impending move:
And Sir O, that tricky devil, managing to nearly never be in the photos I manage to take. He's about to turn 10 folks. (To which I say to myself: "Holy Smack" yet again.) You know that line in Hamilton, "Hamilton is a host unto himself, as long as he can hold a pen he's a threat."
Sir O doesn't need a pen.