Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If it looks like failure and it quacks like failure.... (Babble)

(NOTE:  I started this post in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and was pretty down.  I’m much better now, but decided to preserve this post as it was because it does capture what the complicated days are like and how depressing they can get.)

This was Tuesday:

Today I hit my limit.  There was just too much.  I feel guilty and ridiculous because there was no tragedy or trauma worthy of anyone’s sympathy.  No one was sick or hurt.  Our house is still standing and business is still good.  No, it was just a collection of moments where I failed to live up to basic expectations.  I feel inadequate on so many levels.  I’m tired.  The worst part is I let people down.

There was too much to do and I couldn’t hold it all in my head anymore.

I had to get up in the middle of the night to change all my sheets because Quinn had an accident, so I started off sleep deprived, as well as behind on laundry and dishes.  My clock radio woke me up to the news that a local soldier had been killed overseas.  That always makes me feel ill and a little dizzy.  I had to drag my poor son out of bed so he could go with me to drive the girls to school (to which we arrived late).  I had to go into work first thing because all the work I had planned to do Monday didn’t happen because since the kids were off school they all came with me, and one of them accidentally overflowed the toilet and I spent all my work time cleaning up the mess.  I had planned to do one quick bow rehair today, then take Quinn home to catch up with things at the house and go grocery shopping, but I got so overwhelmed with unexpected customers we stayed until it was time to pick up the girls at school again.

The one distraction that should have been nice was that Ian was able to catch me on Skype before he went to bed.  He showed me what his tiny living quarters in Iraq look like.  He looks good, he sounds fine.  He just never catches me at a convenient moment, which is frustrating.  I had Quinn in my lap while I was trying to tune a violin and one customer heading out the door while the next one was coming in.  And it hit me while Ian was smiling and chatting away that I have no idea what to say to him.  I say “Hello,” “I miss you,” and “I love you,” and then I’m tapped.  I can’t burden him with any of my problems, and seeing him reminds me of how much I wish he were here.  It hurts to see him.  I want to, and I don’t want to at the same time, and I feel bad that any part of me doesn’t appreciate seeing him whenever I can.

I had to bring the kids back to work with me after school to redo one more bow, then we had to dash to the grocery store because I had nothing set for dinner.  I kept thinking I was missing something, but every time I tried to collect my thoughts something came up.  Aden handed me a notice that her lunch account at school was overdrawn.  Both girls handed me birthday party invitations I had to think about.  Aden forgot her homework and I had to make up something for her to do.  Mona broke a glass jar that I had to sweep up.  I reacted badly to the glass everywhere and then apologized to the kids for being so upset about it.  Quinn was just generally needy which is distracting all by itself.

We had a small window of time when we got home to eat and start the laundry before my neighbor, Julie, was set to come over and watch Quinn while I took the girls to choir.  I had arranged for a friend to bring the girls home afterward because I had an orchestra rehearsal that ran until 9:30.  I hadn’t found enough time to practice and wasn’t feeling good about some of the music.

When we walked in the door–the first time I’d been home since heading out at 7:30, I saw the light blinking on our answering machine and had a bad feeling about it.  I finally realized what had been nagging at the back of my brain.  I was supposed to teach a violin lesson at my house today.  The student and the music therapist I team teach with had both come and no one was here.  I was so busy juggling so many things and had so many distractions tossed my way that it completely slipped my mind.  It didn’t help that with school out for MLK day, Tuesday felt like a Monday, but I don’t have a good excuse.  I screwed up.

My heart sank, I called and left an apology on my teaching partner’s voice mail, and started scrambling to get dinner on.  The kids barely had any time to eat before it was time to leave for choir, and as we headed out the door Quinn fell apart.  Poor Julie told me to just go and Quinn would be okay, but it was absolutely gut wrenching to have him wailing and screaming and holding his arms out to me and to have to turn away from him.  He tried to run after me out the back door into the snow with his bare feet and I started to cry too.

I was starting to feel bad about everything I want to do.  I want to teach, but had let that slip through the cracks.  I want to be a good mom, but left my kid screaming.  I want to be a good wife but couldn’t talk to my husband.  I want to be a good musician but don’t have enough time to prepare well and feel as if the rehearsal time is selfish of me.  I want to run my business well but the work is piling up.  I’m gaining weight again because I eat badly when I’m stressed, there are projects that are important to me that I fear I will never get to, and I’m closing on a house in about a week and still haven’t figured out how to contact all the utilities about that.  It’s just all feeling hard today.

Part of the problem is I’m trying to live a life that was set up with a partner in mind.  I don’t feel like dismantling my life because Ian’s gone, because that’s supposed to be temporary.  I’ve scaled back everything I do so that parenting is the primary focus of every day, but maybe I’m fooling myself that I can still be a musician and a teacher and luthier.  I haven’t worked on an instrument of my own since before Ian shipped out.  I don’t feel like myself.  I feel hollow and sad, and ashamed of myself for not appreciating better what I do have.

UPDATE:  Okay, it’s the next day, and sleep makes a difference.  Time to tally things that are going right.

My neighbor Julie is amazing.  She manages to help me out and make it feel like I did her a favor somehow.  While I was at rehearsal she washed my dishes and emptied all the garbage.  Best presents ever.  She listens to me whine and gives me hugs when I need them.  Life without Julie across the street (and soon next door!) would be many times harder.

I got to play music last night.  The last page of the Britten we are doing is depressing because no matter how much I practice my part there is a giant three against four timing thing that loses me a few lines from the end when we do it as a group, but it was just the first rehearsal–I have time to get it.  The fun part was we also ran Handel’s Water Music.  For those of you who think you don’t know it, trust me you do.  I’ve played it a million times at weddings in reduced versions, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it with a full orchestra.  It’s beautiful and fun and much more exciting with trumpets.  We’re also doing Haydn’s Symphony No. 99, and that’s fun, too. 

The group I play with (the Festival City Symphony Orchestra) is such a lovely collection of talented people.  It’s a privilege to make music with them.  It’s not too selfish of me to go to an occasional rehearsal.  It keeps me challenged in a way that’s completely apart from parenting, and that’s good.  Why should I be investing so much in getting musical training for my kids if they would just have to set it aside one day just because they might have kids themselves?  I wouldn’t want them to do that, so why should I?  Not going to happen.

And Aden was a huge bright spot in my troubled day.   Mona didn’t notice I was crying when I got in the car to take them to choir, but Aden sure did.  She told Mona to quiet down and asked me what was wrong.  I told her nothing was really wrong, that I was just having a hard time handling everything as well as I should.  I could see her nodding in the rearview mirror, and she said, “I know what that’s like.  I had a hard day too.”  And she proceeded to tell me all about how she didn’t get her work done at school because she’d been daydreaming and she got behind and how some days are just like that.  Aden did everything I asked right when I asked yesterday.  She knew I was at my limit and made sure not to add one more problem all day.

Today is going better.  Quinn was well rested and up in time for breakfast.  We’ve started setting the kitchen timer so the girls know when to get on their coats to go and that’s working.  The timer beeping is better than me repeating myself and getting annoyed.  My first customer of the day brought me a blueberry muffin when he picked up his bow.  I told him I was feeling bad that I’d forgotten about a student yesterday, and he admitted to having done that himself.  He said, “It happens, you just find a way to make it up to them.”  That helped.

I’ve still got too much on my plate, but I have things in a healthier perspective today.  Tuesday’s over.  Wednesday’s fine.  I can do this.

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