Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sometimes it's the little things

There are days when the little things either lift me up or drag me under.

There are days when the few, small, good moments keep me afloat.

These are those days.

Life right now is big in the overwhelming department.  The decline and death of Danny's mother following so close on the heels of my father's passing has bogged down our family in the mourning department.  It has been a year since my father began his big slide.  A year we have been dealing with the deterioration and dying of the old people we love.

Hopefully, this ends here.  Hopefully my mother is in the relative good health she appears to be and will grace us with her presence for at least a few more years.  At 88 she is going strong.  But she is so sad and lonely still.  I want to do more for her, but there are not enough hours in the day.  She needs a companion, and I cannot be that.  I have young children that need me more.  But I am tugged.  And whatever I do, there is guilt over what I am not doing.

Our family is intact, we have taken the hits and absorbed the pain, but we're not sparkly this year. We just don't have much energy for the usual fall razzmatazz.  We haven't been apple picking, haven't taken a hike in the woods, not a leaf has been peeped.  It's a small miracle I got the boys to our upstate friends annual Halloween Party, although we arrived late and Jake's pumpkin never got carved.

Seems I am half-assed right now about... just about everything. Except of course, my actual ass. I've been stress eating, so that's now an ass and a half.

Today I was just bone weary, and did NOT want to get out of bed.  But with kids there's no choice, they need a mom.  I have to get up, shower, make food, make plans, get us out the door to do... something.  Even if that something is just going up the street to someone else's apartment to play with someone else's toys and watch someone else's TV.

It's "out".

It's doing "something".

And most importantly, it's connecting with other people.

I need to keep reminding myself of all the recent small good moments.  String them together like little gems to glisten amid the dung balls that seem to rain down so often in our lives right now.

The other day Jacob had a dentist appointment, and it went wonderfully.  Jacob was able to follow my instructions even though I was behind the protective wall, and we got bite wing x-rays from him for the first time.

The hygienist had asked me "Do you brush his teeth for him?" and I thought she was going to criticize me for them not being clean enough, but instead she praised what a good job we've been doing.

I have had mixed feelings about doing most of his brushing - typically I "start" (do the job) and he "finishes up" (usually a few big swipes and then off to rinse) - because we are really trying to foster more independence in our 8 year old boy.   But dental hygiene is too important to sacrifice to his huge learning curve.  He just likes the feeling of biting on the brush too much to do a good job himself right now, no matter how much we coach him.  And when we tried an electric?  Bite-o-rama. 

But the up side: good dental visits.  And for a kid on the autism spectrum?  That is a godsend.  We have a great pediatric dental practice that knows how to be patient with special needs kids.  But this visit?  He was so close to "typical," really no harder to manage than Ethan, who - no surprise - tends to talk too much, even while they are trying to clean his teeth.

It was extraordinary.  It was a big shiny pearl of a moment. 
Jim Steinhardt - The Pearl Seller, NYC, 1947

Finally, I am brought much joy by my new toy: the scanner.  Coupled with the copious old photos that have recently resurfaced while moving my mother to her smaller apartment, I am in nostalgia heaven.
Cousins, February 1973
That's me at not quite 13, in the middle of my beloved cousins, attempting glamor.  If I recall correctly we were putting on a vampy show for our parents, dancing awkwardly and singing "We are Juvenile Delinquents"* rather off key.

So the garland wrapped around my life currently looks like this: turd, pearl, turd, pearl, turd, turd, turd, ruby, turd, pearl... hoping tomorrow is more pearls than turds (but keeping the rubber gloves on, just in case).

*We called the song "We are Juvenile Delinquents," but you might know it as "Swinging on the Outhouse Door."  It's an old semi-naughty camp song of unknown provenance and variable lyrics.  This is one version of it (ours was quite different, but I haven't found it on the web yet).


  1. hurray for you for finding the shiny happy moment in this week. I think we're living the same life (we had our first good dentist visit ever (and after a crummy week I needed it and had to write about it too:
    It's so hard to get out of the grieving mode, but sometimes our amazing kids help us in ways we'd never guess.

  2. I'm so sorry for the loss you and your family are experiencing. It's so incredibly hard when you're dealt a one two blow like that. Three years ago, we lost my dad 5 weeks after he was diagnosed with lung cancer and 5 months later, we lost my 19 year old nephew to suicide and a month after that we lost my 37 year old nephew I grew up with to prison, after he killed someone while driving drunk. Sometimes, it just feels like you can't even breathe.

    If you ever need to talk, feel free to email me. I know I found it easier to talk to people who I wasn't related to, because I didn't have to see or hear their grief, and I could be more honest about what I was feeling.


  3. oooh the guilt... devours you doesn't it? Then it turns into regret... joy....

    I know what you mean about the teeth brushing I do do the start and let eldest finish. He loves to just bite the brush and suck the water out of it... no brushing really lol.

  4. My condolences to you and your family with all the losses. That's never easy, but especially difficult when there are so many at one time.

    On a happier note, "We Are Juvenile Delinquents"! My favorite song from Girl Scout camp. Sang it so often with my best friend in those days.

  5. Varda- I LOVE that picture, you haven't changed a bit!!!! I know this has been an incredibly hard year for year. But as someone who has only known you for a short time I am struck at what a BIG heart you have and how amazingly strong you are. Hang in there, things will get better. Always remember you have friends to lean on.
    Sandra xoxo

  6. We seem to follow alot of the same bloggers (@ITSMoments @mommy_pants)...and you always comment on how amazing they are. Well, look in the mirror...because you're amazing too...! I love reading your posts because you make them so real. You can take a simple visit to the dentist - and make it sound poetic. Keep on writing...and I'll keep on reading...

  7. Your family sound wonderful. Feeling the pain of loss so acutely shows how much love there is in your home.
    Of course your life will never be exactly the same, but (in my experience) the pain eventually lessens, even tho you never stop missing that person.
    I so get what you mean about the enormity of the dental visits. They're a big issue in our home. You have amazing spirit and resilience to be able to recognize the good things in the middle of a difficult time. Your son is a lucky little dude (with enviable teeth!) XXX

  8. Yes, it's about getting out and doing something when you have small ones. I am struggling with that today as I was up most of the night trying to get my five month old to sleep and now in the morning my almost three year old is raring to go. I really need to do an inventory about the good things. Great post!

  9. PS I'm a mommy to two boys too:)

  10. I am posting a comment here to your main post. I cannot get it to work for the life of me...even with clicking on the title.

    I wanted to thank you for linking to Alphabe-Thursday.

    Your blog fascinates me. Your writing style is so poignant.

    I look forward to reading more of your work.

    In the meantime, again, many thanks for linking.

    I really, really am glad to have found this blog.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!