Saturday, April 28, 2018

Can I get a sub?

School ends June 7th here and this teacher and my four kids (and hubby by default) are just trying to make it to then alive and fairly intact.

So, here's my list.  Maybe you can relate.

Things that have basically shut down since April and/or will have to wait until summer.

1.  My kids (both my classroom kids and my own kids) have basically lost all desire to go to class.  At calendar time in my Pre-school classroom invariably a student asks if we are done yet.  At first I thought this meant Are we done with calendar time yet?  but, reflecting more, I think it means Are we done with PreK yet?  I'm fairly certain that my nine year old (on a few occasions in April) has kept hot water in her mouth, taken her temp in the morning and told me she has a fever.  This is something the 16 year old might have taught her - and if it were September I would take more time to research.  My eighth grader told me Thursday as I was driving her to school (after missing the bus four days in a row) that she didn't have time to go to school.  Kids are done, y'all.

2.  There are no more family dinners happening in my home.  I started the year gung-ho.  Six to seven balanced dinners planned, prepped, and ready to be cooked each night promptly at 6:00 p.m. because we're "so busy" but not too busy to eat together as a family because that's what makes families bonded and mentally stable.  Yesterday, five of my six family members (and a friend) were gathered around the dinner table around 9:45 p.m. eating one freezer burnt egg roll from Costco (because I forgot to buy more), some clumpy, quickly made white rice, a salad, a slightly brown banana, cheese nachos, and bean and cheese tacos (prepared by the girl who is too busy to go to school).  It was kinda happy and normal until you saw that it was almost 10 p.m. and the food was like a sad buffet of What's Left in the Fridge.  And my nine year was saying, "Mom, I've had cheese nachos for about a week now.  Are you ever going to cook real food again?"  To which I replied, "Yes, we will eat real food again when summer is here."

3.  A well made up face that doesn't look tired is not a thing for this teacher now.  Each day I put on my "make-up" (a loose term that means powder and such from August of last year that still is spreadable to my face) and everyday I think, "On my first day off in June, I'm going to Ulta and buying more of everything in this bag."  I squeeze the tube of concealer to get just enough to smear under each harried and haggard eye, I vigorously brush the eye-shadow rectangle sides hoping that I'll get enough on the brush to actually look like I have shadow on, and I swipe the mostly bare mascara brush over my lashes.  I spritz myself with about one milliliter of cologne that I am refusing to throw away because when I tilt it all the way to the side I can still see an 1/8 of a drop in the bottle.

4.  Lesson planning (this may be a local thing) is kinda over.  My lesson plans in August were detailed.  I told my principal exactly what was supposed to happen down to who will take a breath, when, why, and how I will know they are breathing.  This week's lesson plans said, "Finish last week's work/Assess."

5.  I havne't even bothered to get my Personal Calendar (similar to my bible - you know how I love lists) out of my teacher bag in a week.  Up until last week, I diligently wrote every little thing I needed to do each and every day in my planner/calendar and religiously crossed it out every evening as it had been completed.  Now, I have no idea what needs to be done daily.  I am living minute to minute and hoping that we get through the day everyday until June without losing the house due to forgetting to pay the mortgage.

6.  The kids' clothes are tired and so are mine.  Several days this month one of the kids has told me something like, "Mom, I need new *shoes, jeans, t-shirts, bras* these just don't fit anymore.  Can we go shopping?"  And, I've said something vague but hopeful like, "Yes.  Make a list.  The first day of summer vacation, I promise, we are going shopping."

7.  My okay-ish cleaning has really taken a backseat.  There are so many prints on the windows it's hard to see out of them and the baseboards are grimy.  I keep looking at both thinking, "I really should clean those."  Followed by, "June 11.  I'm putting it on the list for June 11.  Where's my calendar?  Oh, in my bag.  Which is still in the trunk."

8.  I've got health issues to deal with that are just going to have to wait.  The doctor's office politely says, "Can you come in Monday morning at 8:00 a.m.?"  I want to scream, "DID YOU NOT HEAR ME WHEN I TOLD YOU I'M A TEACHER?  THERE ARE NO SUBS.  IT'S APRIL.  IF THERE WERE SUBS THEY WERE GONE BY DECEMBER.  I CANNOT LEAVE FOUR YEAR OLDS UNATTENDED.  THEY WILL EAT EACH OTHER.  JUNE 11TH.  I CAN COME IN JUNE 11TH."

There is a holding pattern that sets in about this time.  Absolutely urgent things get done (most of the time) and everything else kind of sits.

As I stare May down in the face, I have no doubt that the Grim Reaper could look at a teacher and say, "She's mine today."  The teacher, if she saw him, would just shrug and say, "Yeah.  It'll have to wait till summer or until I can get a sub."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How Many People Are Here For The Dog?

The past couple of years have been pretty heart wrenching for our family.

We've dealt with some stuff that I really hope no one ever has to go through and it is so personal and so private that I've shared it with few people.  The stigma, the embarrassment, the not being able to talk freely about it are often times as hard as the facts themselves.

 So, a few days ago a link showed up in my inbox from BlogHer "Reframing Mental Health In America" was the memo.  I'd been wondering how I might use my little blog to express some of what's been happening and in turn reach out to others who may be going through the same.  It was like some sort of weird fate.  I bookmarked the email to come back to later because I thought it might be interesting and helpful.  I just got back to it.  And, it's amazing.

If you love someone who is living with mental illness, please watch the video, "Be Vocal," linked below.  It is time well spent.

If you don't love anyone who is living with mental illness, please watch the video.  Because you may not know they are living with mental illness, or you will better understand those of us who are loving someone living with mental illness, or those of us that have mental illness.

Be the person that rides for the person that can't ride for themselves.

Here is the documentary.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Age Related Dementia

In November of 2009,  my mom passed away while my one year old daughter was in the hospital with a serious infection.  I vividly remember sitting on a hard hospital chair, holding a hospital phone, hearing my husband tell me that he had some bad news.  Minutes after he told me that my mom had had a stroke and passed away before she even got to the hospital, the nurse came in to take my daughter's vitals.  She said, "Is everything all right, honey?"  

I said, "No.  Not really.  Everything is not all right.  I just found out that my mom has passed away."

As my heart was breaking down, I tried to recall the last time we'd spoken by phone.  The last time I'd touched her face.  Had I known it would be the last time, I would have done it so differently.  

And this has stayed with me for nine years.

April 16, 2018

I said, "Do you know me?"

He said (definitively), "No.  I don't."

I read his face to see if he was teasing.  He was not.  There was no glimmer of recognition just behind his eyelids.  The corners of his mouth were not upturned ready to grin showing he'd fooled me.

So, I simply said my name.

Alarmingly, his expression became more confused.  He said, "No.  You couldn't be.  She's much younger."  

In another place and time hearing dad say this would have been funny to me.  But, I didn't laugh.  I have aged considerably.  And I knew this wasn't what dad meant, anyway.  I figured, in his mind, he was somewhere in 2010.

"Remember me?  I'm your daughter.  Your youngest daughter?"

I looked for any signs of memory on his face while trying to fight the lump that was welling up in my throat.

"I remember that I am always happy to see you," he said, taking care to enunciate remember.

We sat in silence for a little longer.  Suddenly a vision of dad riding his bike to work in the 80's came to me.  I think it must have been the sunshine and gentle breeze.  I'm not sure.

I said, "It's a great day for riding a bike."

He said, "Yes.  I suppose it is."

I said, "You used to ride your bike a lot."

"I did?"

I briefly wondered how he could forget that and then quickly regretted having brought it up.  "Yes, you did.  To work and back everyday.  A long time ago."

"Well," he said, "Your body changes and then you can't do the things you used to do.  My time is coming.  I'm going to die soon."

Sometimes the conversation with dad, halted and confused as it is, goes from topic to topic to death.

"Are you scared?

Emphatically, he said, "Nah.  Why would I be scared?  I'm going to see a lot of people that I've lost.  Your mom, and grandma and grandpa."

I couldn't talk for a few seconds.  Then I managed to say weakly, and not without my voice breaking, "Well...I'm going to miss you."

He said, "No.  You're not going to miss me.  You're going to be glad that I'm in a better place with people I've missed."

I seriously doubted this in my mind, but I tried to think of other things to keep from crying.

We stayed outside on the patio of The Memory Care Facility for about 20 more minutes.  I tried to soak in every second.  I held his hand tightly and tried to imprint his words, his face, his breath on my heart so that when he is gone I will have those memories to hold me steady.

Like every visit, I answered the same questions multiple times.  Where are we?  Who lives here?  Do I live here?  Will I be alone when you have to leave?  Where do you live?

Finally he said, "I'm ready to go inside now.  Can you wheel me inside?"

He rolled back inside with me pushing him just in time to start a game of bingo.

"Jesse!  You're just in time to play bingo!"  The staff quickly came over to wheel him up to the table.

He said, "No.  I don't want to play bingo."

"But, Jesse!  You love bingo!"  They said.

"I do?" he questioned.

With that I kissed him and held his face and told him that I had to leave, but that I would see him next time.  He said he loved me and thanked me for coming.

Walking out the doors I steeled myself.  If this is the last time, I am ready.  I will have the memory I need.  I will hold on to it until I can't remember it anymore.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

It's weird. But, here's a list to make it all better.

I haven't blogged in three years.  There are a few new things.  Like:  I own chickens now (yes, real, live chickens).  And, I'm kind of an expert on googling medical conditions and diagnosing and treating myself (and others).  And, I have a flat-screen TV in my house.

And, yet, things really haven't changed all that much.  Like:  I'll probably publish this and then realize there are cringeworthy grammatical errors.  And, my kids still don't listen to me.  And, I still procrastinate like a mother bear.  And, I'm still a notorious list-maker.  And, I have a $hit ton to do today, so naturally I decided to log into my blog (which I have not felt compelled to do least two years) and write a blog post.

What's weird is Facebook (which I'm currently hating) sends me notifications when I get new likes to my blog.  And, I've gotten likes lately.  So, part of me (the big my muffin top) says - Facebook is a god damned lying piece of crap.  But, another part of me (the small, saggy part - like my boobs) says - thank you?  Why would you like someone who hasn't done $hit in three years?  So confusing.

Anyway.  I wanted to give you guys (I'm not even sure who I'm talking to - a lot like real life) a list as a token of my appreciation (kind of like the old days):

1.  I didn't think I could love a chicken, but I do.  A lot.  Three of them.  They are good girls, and unlike our crazy a$$ dog, they give us things that we can eat.  I'm excited to start composting again to start a black soldier fly colony to feed them (who am I?).

2.  My kids are now adultish.  Almost.  Well, three of them at least.  I still feed them and water them, but they are so self-sufficient (and tall).  And, despite my really just okayish parenting, have turned out to be quite decent humans.

3.  I am officially post-menopausal.  Despite what you may have heard, this is in no way a vacation from peri-menopausal.  It has its own set of beasts to slay.  Enough said.

4.  Around early 2016 Google didn't let me into my blog because I couldn't remember my password.  I have no patience for technology, so (as I remember, and my memory is like a sieve) I tried for about 10 minutes to work it out and then I decided to clean the fridge (or drink a beer).  And then I got hacked (by the Russians?) and I had to pay bitcoin to recover my documents and basically everything on my laptop, and then I got a new laptop, and by then I was too tired to try again to recover my password.  And then three years had gone by.  That's all true.  The other part of the reality is that for about two years I've been mildly sad/not quite myself/in a life rut/or trying to enjoy the moments of happiness too much to be bothered to write stuff down.

5.  I still run (a lot slower now).  I still do not want to do a marathon.  Or even like a 5K.  I still compose multiple chapters of my book in my head while running.  And I am currently addicted to The Moth Radio Hour podcasts to listen to while I run.  I cry a lot while running.  My neighbors still think I'm weird.

So, yeah.  That's it.  I really miss my internet friends.  I miss reading blogs.  So, I'm making a new goal today to do more writing and reading.  If it lasts as long as most of my goals, don't miss it!

It's good to write this down.  Looking forward to writing my first comment in three years on someone's blog today.  "xoxo" seems appropriate, although I'm not quite sure why.  Have a great Sunday!