I have had a very rough week at home this week with lots of pressure and parenting issues coming up. As I have mentioned in some of my previous entries, I have a couple of medical problems that lately are restricting me to the house and have limited a lot of the activities I can do. When I'm stressed out, I can't put on my gym shoes and go for a run to combat the stress because of a nerve injury in my foot. I can't get on the phone and chat it up with old friends to forget about my week or get their input - I have a nodule in my neck - it hurts when I talk more than a few quiet words. On top of that, none of my friends are at the same place I am. I don't know anyone that has children with the age range of mine, and most of my friends don't share my parenting style, so I don't think that talking with them would minimize my stress at all.
When I was younger before I had kids, I had so many opportunities to escape. I could read a book all night long and escape into the plot and characters. I could go to a concert on the fly, have a few drinks, and meet new people. I could go to college and divert my mind from my life by learning new things.
Before my last pregnancy, my kids were old enough that I could take a road trip with them, take an impromptu vacation to the beach. I could opt to drive 12 hours overnight to our favorite hotel in North Carolina and hang out at the beach or the pool and laugh and relax for hours with two children who still loved to just hang out with each other and me. We would go to the ice cream shop by the pier and check out the strange catch of the day from the fishermen at the end. Every day you could count on someone catching a baby shark, a crab, or something completely unexpected. Thinking about it now I can almost smell the chocolate ice cream melting all over my son's hands, the sunscreen slathered on our too pale skin, and the salt in the air. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I sit quietly here in my bed with my laptop on my lap while I rest my injured foot.
Before my last baby, and honestly before my last marriage, I could happily escape with my kids - to a movie, to laser tag, to a restaurant, to anywhere. Every moment wasn't perfect, but we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted, and they were at an age where they wanted to go on adventures with me.
Now that I am re-married, have a two year old again, and my oldest is getting too old to completely enjoy our company, I am suddenly struck by the fact that I have no real opportunity to escape except to write. And writing I can never do uninterrupted. Just now my husband walked in, saw clearly that I was taking five minutes out of my life to write, and chose to not respect that need. If I were working, I could leave to go to work. He gets to leave. If I were working, I would have the satisfaction of people, someone, anyone, telling me I am important and useful at least once in a while. If I were working, I would have a change of scenery, other adults to say hello to. I just want him to understand that I am giving that up. He doesn't understand.
I actually am at the point of giving up on needing the understanding of others - OK, I need it, but I know now I'm not going to get it and need to carry on. I need to find another way to cope, to feel like I'm not completely restrained. Writing is definitely good. I think starting today, I need to leave the house, grab my cane and some pain meds and just go to a coffee shop, a library, or the cafe at a local bookstore and have a change of scenery while I write. I need to go alone and not bring my kids. They are usually done with the scenery in exactly one hour. I would like two. Two hours for me can't be that much to ask for.
I realized yesterday as I smiled watching my toddler prepare for me pretend food in his pretend kitchen and bring samples to me to pretend to taste, that I do get so much satisfaction from hanging out with him - just the two of us. I feel the same with my big kids too. I try every day to have a bonding moment with each of them. It really is the best thing - even if it's only laughing together about what happened in gym class or about something on tv.
I no longer have options to check out for hours or stay up all night to read a book. I have to get the laundry done and prepare meals. I need to make sure the house is at least clean enough. I need my big kids to know I am there to support them, that I am a big warm blanket for them always. I can't leave town for a few days, I can't do any sports right now, and I can't go to the bar like many of my friends and get lost in a pitcher of frozen margaritas. The season for escaping in the garden is over. What I do have is what I have - my kids, my house, cookies and wonderful meals to bake, holiday fun to plan, and my writing.
I wanted to go to graduate school soon, but I think my medical issues are going to delay that more than I would hope. No one seems to be handling things if I leave one night a week for writing class. I think I definitely need to plan on going to graduate school during the day once my small man is in kindergarten. I think that's the best I can do. Time goes by quickly, so that day should be here soon.