Monday, April 11, 2011

Too Much, Too Soon

I'm usually good with change. I thrive in ambiguity. I have a high tolerance for living in the in-between; it's always seemed to me to be the place where dreams and possibilities reside. One reason I love my job is because it doesn't always look the same. We have to work toward what's officially called "continual improvement," which really means constant change in the service of making things better. Data is collected and analyzed all the time and we can decide on a dime to change a morning class to evening to accomodate a student's work schedule, or devise a brand new parenting lesson plucked from the results of a recent rubric that suggests reading storybooks to toddlers is a skill that needs some brushing up.

It's what I liked best about being home with my kids too. The rush of realizing -through an ongoing process of careful observation and constant reflection- exactly what my children needed in any given moment, and then successfully supplying it. My brain moves fast; I never stop thinking; I've always related well to people with ADHD although I don't think I have it myself. I like when life requires me to think as fast as I want to, and then to implement those thoughts almost instantaneously. It's a challenge that makes me feel alive.

What I take for granted when I find the thrill in these challenges: I have gotten enough sleep, enough of the right things to eat, and a chance to exercise. In short, I've got to be in fightin' shape to get out there and get the job done. And right now: the job is kicking my ass.

I'm exhausted. Constantly stressed out. I feel like my stomach acids are eating me from the inside out. This is too much change, too soon, and way too much time in the muddled middle, uncertain of what will happen next.

I became a super-bitch on Sunday morning, huffing and puffing over piles of laundry and snapping at everyone in sight. It was all of sudden, and my husband began to press me on it: What is going on with you? What is this really about?

Suddenly I heard myself shout: My job is over! It's gone! It's gone! And I LOVE my job! And then I burst into tears. I actually had no idea what it was really about before I said it. In fact, until I finally spit it out, I found it irritating that he kept questioning me. Can't a girl huff and puff over a pile of laundry and snap at everyone in sight for no apparent reason? Apparently not. And thank you sir, for asking, and asking, and then asking again, because I didn't know why I became a super-bitch. All I knew is suddenly the bitch flag was flyin' high and the super-bitch cape seemed to be secured very tightly around my neck and I didn't have the slightest clue of how to go about loosening it.

Then he reminded me that the federal budget that finally passed this weekend, eliminating my program, was for this fiscal year, and not next fiscal year, and so technically speaking, I'm still waiting-and-seeing, which is actually not comforting at all. I'm both impatient for and resistant to change right now. I want it done already, and I also want it not to happen at all.

But it's happening.

And the most I can aim for is to navigate it with a modicum of grace.

This morning I carried my daughter into my son's room to wake him, so we could get on with our day. He was fast asleep and didn't respond to my voice or my hand on his back and she was squirmy-whiny, so instead of waking him I sat down in the recliner in the corner of his bedroom to nurse my squirmy girl. She pounced on my breast like a small rabid animal and nursed like she was coming off a fast. It's teething, starting already. Both my kids are crazy little nursers when they teethe, preferring my poor nipples to any of the nice teethers they have on the market nowadays.

She settled into a tentative peace, relaxing and suckling for a short while in my arms. And then she began to squirm again, flailing her head back like an infant possessed, stretching my nipple as if it were made of taffy. This is a sign I recognize. I removed her from the breast, placed her in a sitting position on my lap, administered a few sharp pats to the center of her back and heard the loud burp I knew would be coming soon enough.

I felt as if I could sit in that dark room, listen to my son snore, and breastfeed my daughter forever. I want to hide out in a cave. Most days I feel as if I can't take anymore.

But like her, even if I found that temporary peaceful place, I am still subject to forces rising within me that I can't quite control. Even if I took a week and lay on a beach somewhere (oh, please! oh, yes! oh, yes please!), there would still be real, immutable facts of life that have concrete and tangible consequences, and I can't control them. I can't daydream them into alignment or frogmarch them into submission. I can only sit, and squirm, and burp in the face of God. And trust that the universe loves me like a mother and will somehow take care of me despite it all.

I'm not at trusting yet. I'm still at squirming. I see a lot more squirming in my future. Maybe I can squirm my way into fightin' shape.


  1. Thank you so much for this. I'm in a financial and personal holding pattern these days--a hurry up and wait game that infuriates me--and this post made me feel a little less alone in the great swim.

  2. There's something about being a mother and knowing you have little people to protect that makes uncertainty so much harder to swallow. It's very uncomfortable to be in limbo, to be in a temporary body, doing a temporary job, and taking care of this kids that change so quickly. It's all unsettling.

    Semi-related: I am so pissed at congress.