It is pretty clear, at any given moment, that this is the house of children. Every day, though, I come across something that makes me say “Evidence!” in a British accent to myself. Warning—to those of you compulsive cleaners, this may be a trigger. If so, come on over and pick something up. No one will stop you.
I finally succumbed to the germs floating through our house. Lexi is sick again, too, keeping me company on the sofa. We cough. We blow noses, some of us willingly, some not. We watch My Little Pony. (I’m coming around to this, by the way. These girls are always solving hella big problems and saving Canterlot and all of Equestria from ruin. Nice work, ponies.)
Two nights in a row have been bad. For me, anyway. Night sweats, uncontrollable coughing, with migraines on the side. I have a lot of experience being up at 3 in the morning, so you’d think by now I would know not to listen to the voices scrabbling around like rats at that time. They have nothing good to say. It’s all “Give up!”, and “Doom!” Daylight and tea always come with reason and the strength to tell those voices to shove off.
We went to a chiropractor last Friday for Lexi, and she had some cranial-sacral therapy done. It was lovely and relaxing for both of us. Lex slept like a log that night and the next and had a pretty good day in between. Then whatever effect the cranial-sacral had wore off and we were back to miserable headaches, in addition to the miserable cold.
We both wanted her to go back today, but missed our opportunity to sign up for an appointment. We’ll wait and go to an acupuncturist on Monday. I have a little more hope than I did last week. We’re getting better.
I’m a wee frustrated by all this, but instead of talking about that, I’ll tell you how my triathlon training is going!
Because it is going like gang-busters, yo! Except for missing a couple workouts. I was overdoing it, trying to squeeze in three of each lifting/swimming/biking/running workouts each week. I’ve backed down and can reasonable do two of each, each week, in my scant windows of time, assuming everyone is healthy and goes to school.
In this small world, the reverend who married my husband and I, also offered to teach me not to be a wimp and learn the front crawl. She’s so fantastic, it only took two lessons and now I have a reasonably normal-looking swim stroke. A diagram on the package of my swim cap and a tip from a friend helped me get the stupid thing on without me sounding like
Gollum my kids at dinner time. Silicone earplugs to ward off the terror of getting water in my ears. In time we’ll deal with the idea of things touching me when I do the swim in the lake. Currently not helping are 1. Friend K saying “Oh, yeah. I never do triathlons. Because of the dead bodies you might find in the lake.” and 2. This:
I was more concerned about, um, weeds until now, but, okay.
On the biking front, I got 9 miles in on Sunday. I was crazy stressed last week and burned it off by run/walking a 5k on the treadmill. And I can sort of swim a quarter mile. I didn’t know how much I was capable of. I had a little bit left after those and okay, so I came down with a wicked cold, but all of the Midwest is sick right now. I may have overdone it, but, not by too much. I’m still moving this much and this fast out of denial and fear, but I am feeling better and better. And you should see my pipes! I’m almost, practically, sort of ripped! I booked us a room in Door County for three nights around the triathlon, to turn it into a vacation for us. I’m, dare I say it, excited about the future.
**Shh! You guys! Something amazing is happening right now. I waved her off after school, telling her she had to do a “Twelve-twelve pickup” in her room before she could watch a video. (Because she can reliably count to twelve, get it?) She could easily stand in any spot of her room and pick up 24 things without moving her feet at all. This should have taken 2 minutes, tops. She refused. AND IS NOW PLAYING BY HERSELF. Singing a song, wearing a crown, avoiding me at all costs, not even carrying the kitten around and moping. (God bless that sweet, patient, kitten.) She hasn’t played, really played, or sung her funny little songs (with repeating themes of “The Greatest Day Ever” and “You Can Do Anything You Want To”,) in too long. This is good. Really good. And now I have even more hope.**
I wasn’t expecting five to be a challenging year for her and I. I was wrong. Remember the little girl who’s first sentence was “I’m happy!” ? Well, she’s pretty sad these days. Everyone says the wrong thing to her–either they notice her too much or not enough. Either they ask her questions she doesn’t want to answer, or tell her things she doesn’t want to hear. She doesn’t want to see her grandparents any longer since they told her she smiles like a monkey, and once told her not to be such a baby when she cried. School is stressful. She misses her big brother when he’s at school and she’s not. She is angry because she can’t read. “Home doesn’t feel like home any more.” And she gets tension headaches every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Since August.
And she just gave me a drawing of a heart with and “x” through it and said, “That means I don’t love you anymore.”
Then she cried for a long time and eventually said “I just said that because I just don’t feel good. I don’t remember what it was like to feel good. I want things to go back the way they were.”
And I’d be lying if I said neither of those broke my heart in jagged little pieces.
We saw the doctor today. Again. Her chest hurt this morning and last night, probably just heartburn from coughing or some other fluke. I could have treated it with a tums if I had known that was okay to give to kids. She checked out fine. Of course she did. She’s a perfectly healthy kid. Except for being miserable.
She is worried about her head. She is worried about school and being away from me and being too shy to tell her teacher if her head starts to hurt too much. She worries. And she hurts and I have nothing to soothe her with. She railed at me yesterday and today, asking “Why haven’t you done something? Why can’t I get better? Why didn’t you try to figure this out before??” And how could it look any other way than that? I keep telling her it will get better and it never does. I don’t even believe me anymore. For months, it felt like no one believed that she even had headaches. She always looked so happy and energetic. Well, yeah. She did feel good sometimes and that’s when we’d venture forth. We don’t do a lot of venturing at all these days, though. She came home from school yesterday and said “I want to just sleep for awhile, okay, Mommy?” This, from the child who hasn’t napped in over three years.
If school were the original and continuing stressor….is now the time I start thinking about homeschooling her? (And her brother?) What other solution is there?
Here’s another question: If I had gone back to work after they were born, would my children have become tough, adaptable weeds by now, jaunting (or even silently trudging) off to school? Or put this way—what would they look and function like right now if I hadn’t been here every moment of their lives? Would they have been tougher? Or rootless with no safe place to fall? Forget it, those aren’t the right questions.
We go to a second chiropractor tomorrow afternoon and finally get in to see an acupuncturist in a week. Her pediatrician has basically thrown her hands up, but perked up when I said we had the acupuncture appointment. That and a list of vitamins prescribed to kids with migraines, “for future reference, just in case.” Her neurologist gave up on us a month ago, because clearly she’s neurotypical with no serious disease presentation, and I still haven’t recovered from that. He told us to stop using ibuprofen and Tylenol, to treat her “stress” headaches some other way and gave us not one idea on how to do it.
So…here’s the list I’ve cobbled together of things to do to reduce her stress and help her vent: hanging/rolling over a stability ball, naps, hot chocolate, tea parties, hot baths, walks, God how I wish it were sunny and we could lay in the grass, sledding, little pieces of chocolate, lavender balm on her forehead, a worry doll, foot rubs, back rubs, mom-and-me yoga, deep breathing, talking about how to make our big worries a little smaller, talking in general, oh and I got her a kitten. (Her list, by the way, involves unlimited access to My Little Pony episodes, cookies and the kitten.)
There is a whole lot of me that says I’m all done with this and that I can handle no more. Her every complaint feels like a crisis, and one that I can do nothing about. Like a natural disaster.
But there is another, smaller, but hopefully tougher part that will win out.
Cue the Rocky music.
I went for my first training run this morning. Well…sort of.
I woke up early. Before the sun. Before the kids. I laid in bed for a while but I finally got up, slunk around the house and put on the clothes I’d set out last night. I looked (and didn’t find) my watch. I found and put down the headlamp. I jumped around a bit to warm up. I went out and tip-toed over the iced driveway.
And I ran to the end of the street and then back home. It took about a minute and a half.
I came in and ate all the carbs in the house and made a pot of decaf coffee with hot chocolate to recover.
Turns out the running tights I’ve had since high school don’t work anymore! It is COLD out there! I mean, I’m carrying way more mass now and that should be insulating, right? Is it possible I’ve turned into a wimp? Sixteen-year-old me ran in the winter. I think she liked it even. Huh. Well. Present-day me has lots of things to say about winter running and I don’t know that it is all that nice. Okay, so I’ll work on that one.
On other fronts: I bought a swim suit. A real one that you are supposed to do real swimming in. I went to an actual swim store to find one and I tried on a few before I asked the sweet, teenage expert if the leg holes were all cut that high. “Oh. Would you like more of a woman’s cut?” Um. Yes, darling girl. There’s no reason my hip bones needs to be out in the open. Also, this much side-boob exposure is distracting, even to me. This can’t be right. Two more suits tried on and I found one that I can get on with out jumping while pulling it up. (Okay maybe one or two little jumps). I had her pick out a good pair of goggles and a swim cap, I paid for it all and dashed out of the store. 12 minute transaction. Well on my way to this “master’s swim” people keep talking about.
On the biking component: I took a 45 minute spin class on Sunday. I liked it. It was a little weird, I’ll admit. The only spin experience I have is from watching Kimmy Schmidt. This wasn’t as weird, but pretty close. Dark room. Black lights. Loud music. Some sort of “slide” move where you stand up on the pedals and pretend to sit back down…but at the last second you stand back up. It reminded me of the time a yoga teacher said “It’s just like you’re flossing!” while we were all in a low-lunge and I fell over because what am I flossing here?!? I can’t be the only one who is too immature for these moves.
A notable start! The youngest is sick and laying on the sofa, so I’ve missed my regular bootcamp class. I’ve got enough other things keeping me busy for now, though. Also, to get in the right frame of mind, I re-watched my favorite training sequence ever, the villagers training for the ultimate cricket match in the movie “Lagaan”. I dare you to watch and not be inspired. Especially by the chicken chase scene.
A few days ago I read about a man, Klaus Obermeyer, who is 95 and still skiing and generally being awesome. He swims about a mile every day and says it helps him stretch out and stay young. And I thought “Yeah! Swimming! I could do that!”
Then, yesterday, someone great said in a chipper voice, ‘Hey, I’m doing a half IRON race in July. You could do a sprint triathlon the day before!’ and I thought “Okay!”
Never mind that each of the three times I’ve tried to swim, you know, like a real swimmer where my face actually gets wet, I’ve hyperventilated within half a lap. And those squeezy rubber caps make my head hurt. And goggles do too. And I panic if I think water will get in my ears. And I never, never swim in lakes because things might touch my legs. Things. I haven’t run consistently with the exception of six weeks of training for a Color Run a couple years ago in 20 years. More than half my life. And there is a biking component too. 18 miles. I could bike that, right? With my 20-year-old bike with 20-year-old mountain bike tires?
Anyway, I signed up. For a triathlon in July.
It is a 1/4 mile swim, an 18 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. They call this set the “sprint” of triathlons. Oho! So sassy!
I started training today. By which I mean that I bought a biking jersey, some running shorts, two t-shirts and a swim cover-up on clearance. Ooh, and I signed up for a free intro spin class on Sunday morning.
Then I thought about my first goal for the year, how my family needs and deserves the full weight of my attention right now.
I asked my husband if he was worried about the “diminishing slice of pie” now that I signed up for a triathlon.
“Pie? What pie?”
“The pie of my attention.”
“Um. No. I wasn’t.”
You know what? I have worried about that (needlessly, apparently) for years. Maybe I should just say stuff out loud more often.
First doubt, hurdled.
Then, my mind turned to MS, as it does often these days. I’m asymptomatic right now. Well, sort of. I get tired sometimes and sometimes my body hurts and only now do I realize that that fatigue might not just be me or the result of “unsleeping” for seven years. Also, I can last only about 30 minutes of boot camp right now before my hands start shooting off sparks. It used to just irritate me that my grip would go, but lately my fingertips feel like I’ve run an iron over them when I get too hot. The burning sensation goes away after a while. It’s never permanent. But, but…how do I run or bike or swim? If it makes me tired? If it makes my hands hurt? Blah, blah.
So my second doubts about this, are easily dealt with too: I do what I can. Right now.
Time to live it up and take these (beginner) workouts outside in the cool Wisconsin air. Well, not the swimming. Not yet anyway.