This week is Operation Rejoin The Human Race.
Oh, I know, you weren’t aware that I left. But I did! Every now and then my natural tendencies towards hermit-tude intersect with massive life suckage and then I go underground (metaphorically—the clay in Georgia is far too hard for actual tunneling) and the extent of what I say in public is limited to things like, “The sunlight! IT BURNS!”
At a certain point, my darling husband starts looking at me with a gaze tinged with equal parts pity and fear, and then I know it’s time to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Or shave my legs again. Whatever.
This week has been highly cooperative in that the weather has been gorgeous. So, step one of my plan: Licorice and I have gone for a long walk every day. This is especially exciting because there’s a dead squirrel along our regular route. I KNOW.
So we go do our daily jaunt and Licorice’s tongue flops out of her mouth (floppy dog tongue = instant hit of happiness) and I listen to an episode of “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” (I’m only about three months behind on my podcasts) and by the time we get back to the house, I feel almost virtuous. (I’d probably feel more virtuous if I was actually running, instead of just wearing running shorts and walking like the lazyass I am, but whatever. Details.)
The walking itself is not going to fix everything, of course, but it’s a crucial component of… um… reinvigoration. Which is a fancy word for “stopping me from sinking into my customary groove on the couch.”
As for fixing everything else….
Ha. Hahahahahaha. HA.
Ahem. Oh, right. Let’s see.
The dog situation: We have decided not to go with the facility we visited, due to the long wait, expense, distance, etc. I’m open to working with a local trainer if we happen to trip over a suitable dog, but realistically the chances of that happening are slim. We’ll see.
The school situation: It’s very important to me that Monkey feel like his change in schedule next year is TOTALLY AWESOME, because if he feels like he’s missing stuff on the days he doesn’t attend Hippie School, that’s going to be a disaster. So. I spent some time on this issue this week and yesterday I proposed my solution to him and he was completely stoked. Here in Georgia we have an online Virtual School system available to all high schoolers; it allows homeschoolers to take more structured classes, plus it gives a wider availability of classes without having to hire additional staff at the public schools. (For example, Chickadee is doing Virtual Math this year because she’s taking a 9th grade class which isn’t taught at the middle school.) I casually suggested to Monkey that he continue at Hippie School three days a week, but on the other two days we’ll start doing Virtual School, instead, because that will allow him to start high school early. He’s totally on board, and at just a couple of classes per semester, it means that when he actually DOES start high school, he’ll be a year ahead.
[Sidebar: It's not perfect. I still wish we didn't have to do this. But it is what it is and the reality is that we have no clue what Monkey will be ready for when it comes to high school, anyway. Do I think he'll be able to do ninth grade work as a seventh grader when he doesn't have to sit in a classroom and deal with other kids? Sure. Do I think it would be a good idea to skip him up a grade if we choose to place him back in public school for high school? HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA oh good God nooooo. It could be that Virtual School works wonderfully for him and that's how he'll end up completing high school. It could be a complete disaster. ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?]
The everything else situation: So you know how there are five stages of grief that apply to many of life’s upheavals? I have discovered that as soon as it became clear that my kid wasn’t, you know, going to die or anything—and I’d finished whiplashing my way through the five stages in regards to her illness—I started going through those five stages as regards my ability to work.
First it was OH NO, I can keep working through all of this! I will just take my laptop to the hospital! No problem!
Then it was SCREW THIS NOISE, I can’t be expected to work while this is going on. How can you even suggest I should?? You’re an ass.
I rather enjoyed the bargaining. For me, that was like bargaining with a double side-order of guilt. “I will be WHOLLY PRESENT IN THIS MOMENT with my sick child, but when the minute hand gets to the 6 I am allowed to leave for half an hour to get some work done so that we don’t all STARVE TO DEATH.” Yeah, that felt like stellar parenting, lemme tell ya.
Otto was required to be extra-patient and encouraging through the depression stage. Because she’ll never be healthy again! And my clients are all going to ditch me! And we’ll be destitute! And she’ll be sick! WE’LL BE SICK AND DESTITUTE AND IT TOOK ME YEARS TO BUILD THIS CAREER AND IT’S ALL GONE TO SHIT AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M YELLING? Good times, man. Good times.
Here in the acceptance phase, I am still prone to the occasional tantrum, but it’s getting better. Chickadee is getting better every day (except on the days when she’s not; LALALALA I can’t HEEEAR YOU), and I am just going to have to take a clue from my youngest and work on being more flexible. Some days are all doctors’ appointments and I just don’t get to work very much. OH WELL. Some days are “regular” days but my productivity still isn’t where it was before, and that’s okay—the earth is not going to open up and swallow me, the sky isn’t going to fall, etc. Is my income down? Yep. Does it suck? Eh. We’re okay for now. I am lucky to be in a position where I can take all of this time off without ending up completely unemployed. I am lucky to have a spouse with a secure job.
I am lucky to be periodically worrying about my career instead of still sitting in a hospital wondering if my kid is ever coming home. That has a way of putting things in perspective, no?
In other words: Onwards and upwards. Licorice and I aren’t solving the world’s problems on our daily stroll, but some fresh air and a floppy tongue can only help. When we get back, I drink a glass of water and Licorice laps up half a dish of water and then curls up for a nap under the futon in my office. I listen to her snore and nothing has changed, really, but it all seems a little more manageable.
It’ll do, for now.