Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sisyphus

Sisyphus, in Greek mythology was punished by the gods with the maddening task of rolling a boulder up a hill, and just before reaching the top, the boulder would roll right down again. It was a lesson in hubris, a realization I suppose that we are not in control. No matter how strong, how determined, that boulder has a mind of it's own. We are merely human. So get over it.

I don't think I can push this boulder any longer.

This has been our reality. FD has been working a lot. He has to take what they give him because he's still considered 'part-time' and not an employee. Respiratory Therapy jobs in LA are scarce, so he takes what he gets. Sometimes he works 5 days in a row of 12.5 hour shifts. On those days, we don't see him. We are living apart. It's been a welcome separation for both of us, and soon he will find a permanent place of his own.

So for those stretches, I'm a single mom of a kiddo with CF, a dog who poops and pees everynight because of separation anxiety from FD, and two aging cats who mostly hide under the bed until the Frog is asleep and then, starved for human contact attack me on the sofa, at my first chance to sit down all day. I'm beyond exhausted. There needs to be a new word for exhaustion. My day doesn't end at 6:30pm. I don't get to call it a day and relax. There is no time clock for moms. Laundry piles up, the dishes are never done, bills to be paid, birthday parties to plan, not to mention my two part-time jobs. I am always letting someone down, I'm moody and irritated, jealous of FD's freedom and bicycle rides. And it spills out. It erupts. I can not seem to get a grip on the unfairness of it all, how parenting is 90 percent mom and 10 percent dad. And I hate that I'm a b*tch for saying it. But it's true. The bulk of life falls on the mom. And dad gets to swoop in and go for a hike, while I'm home cleaning up dog crap.

When I get a free moment, I'm ordering supplies, working, cleaning, trying to catch up, one step behind, always one step behind. My free time is not free time. It is the opposite of free time. It is occupied, taking care of business, trying to make everyone happy and failing miserably time.


I try to stay positive. I try to put this in perspective and enjoy the time I am blessed to have with Froggy. Most days she is a delightful, smart girl, other days, a pill. But I wake up in the morning, every morning with this smiling face (screaming "MOMMY GET UP") but still adorable, and I say, "I'm lucky." As the day goes on, and life piles up, I lose track, I get cloudy. I start to feel that dark boulder of resentment cast it's ugly shadow and it's goodbye gratitude.

Monday morning I was exhausted. The night before the Frog and I were stuck in three hours of traffic leaving a 4th of July day in Laguna. We arrived home at 1am. And as I was carrying up the deadweight of a tired toddler up a flight of stairs with a backpack on, and toys under my armpits, fumbling for keys in the dark, I thought, "I can't do this alone." There should always be someone to help you in at night after a long day. It shouldn't take two trips. There should be someone else carrying this weight, this physical, mental, emotional weight. It hit me hard. I cannot do this alone. And even if people come help in the day to take care of Froggy, I am still getting up three times a night to give enzymes for the feeding tube. I am still the one doing treatments. The weight of the world, the boulder, is on my shoulders.

After unpacking, doing meds, taking out the dog, blah blah blah, I hit the sheets around three. Froggy was up at 7am and our day began. No amount of coffee could wake me. I was tired and angry, because despite going out at 3am, Buddy left me a pile of sh*t on the kitchen floor. So this is how I begin my day. FD comes over after a bike ride and breakfast, not that I'm completely out of my mind jealous about how refreshed he is, but now it's 10ish. Froggy is not being helpful. I'm behind with treatments and meds. With FD there, I need to work and get some things accomplished. Froggy won't let FD do treatment and there is no sense of order or parental structure and I'm starting to lose it.

Froggy is having her b-day party this year at this indoor kid play center. She's been talking about this all year and you have to rent it way in advance. So I'm online looking up rates and trying to figure out what package we want and I ask Froggy who she wants to invite from preschool. She rattles off some names and then FD says, "Invite your whole class." There are only fifteen kids allowed or we have to pay $100 bucks more. He didn't know this, but it was the straw that not only broke the camel's back, it punctured and sent the camel off a cliff into mad hysterics. I angrily indicated that those who aren't doing the work, shouldn't offer the generous suggestions. It didn't go over well, and FD said, "Well aren't you a nice woman."

It wasn't particularly cruel and my reaction to an innocent mistake was intense, fueled by so much more than a comment. But it was the worst thing at the worst moment. Because I am trying my hardest, giving every piece of myself, and it's not enough. I'm still just a jerk who can't control her temper. I am apparently not a nice person.

I gather my things to go to work. Froggy feels the tension and doesn't want me to leave. I give her a bear hug and get in my car. At the light I sit bawling. I have to work and my mascara is down my face, I'm a red blotchy mess and this guy behind me is honking, waving his arms for me to go. I'm sitting at a red light with a sign that says, "no right turn on red," and this macho cheese head behind me is honking and yelling at me, miming 'turn' and 'go' like I'm an idiot. I'm sobbing and have an out of body experience where I picture getting out of my car, pulling the jerk out of his seat and punching him in the face. Wow, she really isn't a nice person.

Everything is a blur, I give the guy the finger (nice huh?), and look straight ahead. These sweet neighbors who I chit-chat with on our dog walks are also sitting at the light, watching me bawl and give this guy the bird. Wow, it's verified now, what a nice woman.

I am not better than this. I know life challenges some people and they rise to the challenge. They become better for it and handle their lives with grace. I've lost grace. Grace left me a year ago. And wine and bitterness has taken her place. I can't do this. I can't. I am a nice person, or atleast I used to be, but I'm not anymore. I don't know. Maybe this life has gotten to me. Maybe I am so overwhelmed and pissed off I can't even find nice.

There is that obnoxious expression that people show their true colors under stress. Well great. Here are my true colors. A big jerk who yells, sobs and gives people the finger. That's me. Boy would I love to be that mom who finds a way, who writes heartwarming pieces about how it's all worth it and life is inspirational. But I don't feel like a hallmark card. I feel like sh*t. I feel like Sisyphus and no matter how hard I push that boulder up the mountain it will always be there, this weight I cannot lift alone. Maybe that's what Sisyphus needed all along, a partner, someone to carry the boulder, the toddler up the stairs and up the mountain. Maybe it wasn't a lesson in hubris, maybe it was an invitation for others to step up. I don't know. But I'm tired. I'm very tired and feeling a bit hopeless.


Being a nice person was the last thing I was holding onto. Despite everything I still felt like a good person. I don't know anymore. I want to take a nap, a long nap, to wake and have the divorce final, Froggy adjusted, the boulder over the mountain. Just over the mountain. I don't know how much more I can handle.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hang in the kiddo. I've not been in your exact situation, but I've been a single mom of 3 and you're right, it's really hard, unappreciated job that sucks. And moms do most of the work. It's not fair, but it's life. You deserve a nice, responsible, mature man in your life. Have you ever considered moving back to Iowa with your folks?

If you need to talk to someone I'm available.

love betsy (charlotte's aunt_

Liza said...

I so with there was something I could do to help. Here I was feeling sorry for myself and my issues are pretty minor in comparison. Even my meanest mom in the whole wide world meltdown earlier this week.

You're in my thoughts. And eventually Karma is going to gift someone with some dog poo. You're a good mommy, a good person. Ratatosk mom to max age 7 wcf

Anonymous said...

you hit the nail right on the head with that percentage. i'm not in your situation either...but i still relate. big hugs to you. jcn

Angela said...

Ugh- I've often said that I don't know how the single moms do it. A single mom I know refers to her ex as a "Disneyland Daddy" because he gets to swoop in and do the fun stuff while she is stuck with the crap parts of everyday life.
Thinking about you!!!

jordysmom said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. It's been many years since I've been there, but I've been there, and it really does suck. I don't know exactly how I got through it.

All of these years later, I realize that I've lost some memories. Probably my mind simply put some of the awful stuff away in an attempt to maintain some level of mental health. That's not meant to be a joke - I'm serious. :(

I do remember sitting in my kitchen floor just bawling because there was a St. Bernard pile of crap by the back door, a crying baby in the other room, and a toddler screaming from the bathroom, "Momma I have poop on me!" Ugh. Very overwhelming.

I don't have any magical words for you, or any inspiration of how it will get better. I hope it gets better for you, and that you find the help & happiness that you deserve. ((((hugs))))

Stacey

Casey said...

I. Love. You.

It isn't just men who leave the work to the woman. I have the same situation with Dakota. She swoops in, plays the hero and Disneyland Mom roll and then goes on her merry way to live in her love shack apartment with her new girlfriend while I tend to the house, the kids, the animals (because ooops..the only apartment they could afford int he area they wanted won't accept HER dogs!) I get it all...plus the stress of having been a stay at home mom for 8 years now looking for a job that will pay the bills and support the three of us in these oh so enjoyable economic times. IT SUCKS.

This is not what I signed up for. It's not what YOU signed up for. I am angry and you have every right to be less than gracious.

I am so sorry. I know the pain (not the specifics, of course but I get it).

You know where I am. Any time.
Love you.

ferfischer said...

Oh honey. It is a lot to handle. And you are human, there is no reason you have to be nice all the time, and sometimes it's ok to be mean. You're not superhuman. And it's also ok to cry, scream, yell and do what you need to do to get through. Sometimes I have to slow down and take it second by second to get through, even if it is pushing a big boulder up the hill all the time. Thinking of you.

Jenny said...

I can't even pretend to know what you are going through, but I wanted to let you know that these posts--the ones where you cry and complain and hang your insecurities out for everyone to see--are just as good as the "inspirational" posts. It's refreshing to know that others abandon their nicer self every once in a while, too.

Not only would I have given that guy the finger, I'd also have been very tempted to fed-ex him a bag of dog poop.

Anonymous said...

I might be over stepping my bounds, but in the world of web there are no bounds, right? Anyway I don't know if you pray, but if you do, do. I'm in a crappy job that I hate, but the days I pray are so much better. Somedays I just say, "God, help today not to suck and let me have a good attitude." He does the rest, it's a grat feeling knowing that you aren't alone.

Josh 1:9 "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

2Chr 20:17 "You will not need to fight this battle. Position yourselves,
stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you,..."

John 16:33 "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Rom 8:18 "onsider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Anonymous said...

sending you another hug....jcn

Rach said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You are one of the NICEST people I've had the pleasure of knowing in my life. It's ok to NOT be perfect all the time. You have a lot of people who love you-dog poop on the floor or not.

Liza said...

Hope with some sleep you're feeling not so fragile. And who says you have to be nice all the time? You've got a LOT on your plate these days.

BTW, my niece used to tell us that she had her own Daddy at Chuckee Cheese because that's the only time she'd him.

Anonymous said...

Some things I know are true:

You are my hero.

You are my favorite person in the whole world. (ok, let's hope Jeff doesn't read this ;o) )

And one of the nicest people I know.

You will get through this.

You should move to Iowa.

You wouldn't want the roles to be reversed, to be the parent who got to sleep uninterrupted in someone else's house, not waking up to Addie every morning and going to sleep in the house with her every night. Or, not being the one she clings to when she is hurt, scared, tired, happy, etc. You could never be a Disneyland Mama.

Unfortunately, although there are great dads out there, it is the mamas who run the world. It's not fair, it's not acceptable. It just is.

And, YOU ARE ONE OF THE BEST MAMAS RUNNING THE WORLD.

Love you.

~Auntie Honka

iColossus / Monster said...

Well, this is just my opinion...but I think you are being very harsh on yourself, girl!

Big deal, so you gave some a-hole the finger. Does that really make someone a bad person? If you saw one of your girlfriends going through the same thing, handling it the same way, I don't think you would make her bad and wrong. How you judge yourself. Be aloof from those self-judgments, girl...you are a goddess!

I just ain't buying it that in the space of a few short weeks, you suddenly became a rotten person.

It looks like Froggy is thriving and loving life and very soon you can really move on with YOUR life. Whoo-hoo!

And you can do it, and even more. You ARE strong, powerful without measure, and even if things got 10 times worse, you would find a way to surf over all the piles of shit and still be a great, great mom, a kind person, and a fun, warm, true friend.

Despite how it looks like right now in this moment, you are actually having all the hallmarks of the life that an extraordinary person has. And I respect and admire you for that.

And Grace? Grace only left when you didn't give it to yourself. Lighten up on yourself and give yourself Grace again.

Love ya, Froggymama.

Pitfire tomorrow?

tdraxler said...

There's so much I want to say, but I'm on my dam phone... bullet points will have to do.

1. I don't believe for a second that you are not one of the nicest people in California.
2. The guy at the light deserved the bird.
3. It's ok to be angry. It's ok to be pissed off at FD and let him know. It's ok for Froggy to see you melt down. If she never sees your less than perfect emotions she will grow up thinking that it NOT OK to be angry when life sucks.
4. You are an awesomemom. An awesome CF MOM.
5. Send that dog to FD AS SOON AS HE HAS A PLACE.
6. Move to Iowa. Then we can meet in the middle for lunch.
7. There HAS to be an enzyme that you can put in at the beginning of the feed. Getting 7

tdraxler said...

Huh. There's a limit to how much I can type ony phone. Who knew?

7, getting up at night it nuts. We use viokase which I know won,t be around much longer. But, I've been told there is anotjer option. Please ask your team. You need good solid sleep. I will see what our next step Is and let you know.

8. Lady. You rock. And don't you for get it.

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iColossus / Monster said...

OK, since you mention this dude Sisyphus (and I wonder how much HE was teased at school! I thought I would pull some of Camus's writing on the guy, this Sisyphus, whose life is not really about despair, but about hope.

Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! That hour, like a breathing space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

And Camus concludes his story with the hopeful cry, We must imagine Sisyphus happy.

YOU, Froggymama, are stronger than your rock.

And one last quote from Camus: In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.

Love ya, girlfriend!!!!

OK, one more:

Keep aloof from sadness for sadness is a sickness of the soul. Life has, indeed, many ills, but the mind that views every object in its most cheering aspect, and every doubtful dispensation as replete with latent good, bears within itself a powerful and perpetual antidote. - Lydia Sigourney

To powerful and perpetual antidotes...and when all else fails, a glass of wine shared with a girlfriend works too!!!!

- iColossus

Lisa said...

Yeah- life with young kids with CF can really suck (to put it bluntly).

I remember having many of the same feelings and bad days with two kids with CF and a traveling husband- gone all week- no family around to help and feeling so stuck, miserable and angry.

In fact, I feel the same way at times even now (kids are 11 and 9)! But here is what I can tell you: It does get better as they get older. Infinitely better in fact.

Yes, be mad today, give the finger, scream and shout at the steering wheel if you need to, but have faith that it will get better. Because it will. The light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train.

And it will be hard. It will get better but never easy. And there will be other times ahead that you won't know if you can get through it. But you will and we do because our kids need us. And we are GREAT Moms.

Hugs and hope,
Lisa G.

PS I love your writing.... :-)

Anonymous said...

You have every right to be angry. You are exhausted. You have been working too hard for too long with no help; stop placing pressure on yourself to be perfect.

Why isn't FD doing more?? Why are you shouldering the burden alone?? Sorry, but only a jerk would watch you drive yourself to exhaustion like this... THAT'S the problem, not that you are giving someone the bird or feeling you have lost your grace. You didn't lose your grace, it was stolen from you, stripped off piece by piece, layer by layer.

You can't keep going like this... I worry about you-- wish I were not on the other side of the globe, and too far away to help with chores or bring you dinner...

I suspect that you know what the solution is in your heart, and you know that the sooner you do it, the better it will be for both you and Froggy. And maybe, maybe, if you go back and live with your parents for a bit, you will be able to find yourself again, and may even have the space in your life to show the world the brilliant writer that you are, and reclaim your dreams and your life.

((((((((froggymama)))))))))

monika in switzerland

PicklePits said...

Girlie, girlie, girlie...oh my girlie. Let's clarify a few things here:

1. Time to simplify things...
you get the frog
he gets the pets
period.
2. Iowa may not have an ocean but
we do have some pretty amazing
sunsets over all those amber
waves of grain. Come home.
3. You can't? YOU CAN'T??? YES,
ELISE, YES YOU CAN!!! You are a fighter. You are a woman. You are Froggy Mama!! Ribbit or roar...I KNOW you can!!!
4. I love you. I admire you. Middle finger poised and mascara streaming, I love you just the way you are. You are real. You are raw. You are every one of us. CF Mama's hear your cry loud and clear. You are NOT alone.