It’s not that I have had a bad attitude, or was even conscious of a build up of stress. And I don’t relate this to have a pity party or get sympathy. I simply didn’t know that the pieces of straw were piling up precariously! But it’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. (Not very many family members were harmed in the making of this reality.)
It’s hard to say when the pile of straw began to grow or even if it was of unusual size. Was it when I got the frost nipped toes on New Year’s Eve? Or could it have been when I got the flu in January. Maybe it was as far back as when the dear hubby got his new position at work AND injured his right shoulder playing frisbee with the kids. There is a reason for the saying, “If it’s not one thing, then it’s another.”
When the husband got the new job, which we are grateful for, it meant he would travel A LOT. Since he is my best friend, this is an adjustment. Still, we are thankful for the internet and Skype and our 5 minutes a day of communicating on travel days, no matter what time zone he is in. The kids say I get a little weird, though. They would appreciate any understanding you have to offer about what they must endure supervising their mother.
When the husband has been home, there are the semi-regular groans and howls of pain when he moves his right arm the wrong way, waking or sleeping. He is right handed. The strain has been building in his face. He will probably need surgery. I’ve had a couple of bouts with intense, ongoing pain, so I know what it is like. Other than offer sympathy, there is little I can do to help him. Since he was so nice to me when I was down and out, I don’t even get the stress relief of saying empahtically, “See. It hurts, doesn’t it?!”
The frost nip on my toes and balls of my feet meant that it was painful for me to walk for several days, then the flu hit and it was just painful to be awake. With all the sneezing and coughing, I wasn’t sleeping much. That meant I was also feeling the aching appendages and eyeballs. At least the hardworking husband wasn’t home most nights, so I wasn’t keeping him up. Although, with his shoulder pain, I’m not sure it would have mattered. We could have spent so many sleepless nights together moaning ….
When I was almost over the flu, we discovered one of the bathroom floors was soft and mushy. It makes you think twice about how inconvenient an outhouse might be. It will mean tearing apart the bathroom and replacing the shower, all before the wedding festivities get going in mid spring. We will have house guests. It is generally not good to have your visitors fall through the floor, especially your mother-in-law. She is a very nice lady, and we have had a wonderful relationship these many years. Why risk ruining it now?
Then there is the bit about one of the daughters preparing to leave home for the first time, to live in distant places as a single woman. She has been stressed. I have been trying to be supportive. Really, she has needed her often traveling father. I needed a glass of wine every night.
Then, yesterday afternoon, I was asked if I could babysit our only grandchild. Of course, I would love to do that! Unfortunately the little cutie is not ready to be apart from his parents and cried in a pathetic way nearly the whole time. He wasn’t throwing a fit, he was just heart broken, alternating burying his head in my breast with looking around corners for one of those two important people. As much as I understand and am patient with him, my heart was also sad. I long to hold him and mutually cuddle. My youngest child (16 years old) complains that I don’t rock her to sleep anymore. Maybe I should consider it as potentially therapeutic for both of us?
On the heels of that, I received a phone call from the above daughter exclaiming that she had broken the car. It was looking like it might burst into flame. Should she and my daughter-in-law risk their lives looking under the hood? By the way, strange thick, gooey globs were falling out from under the engine…. Remembering only that we had just spent a sizable amount buying her a very nice car, my heart was contemplating all manner of odd beats. It was, in whatever way the mind keeps count, the final straw.
All I could think of was my nearly incapacitated husband, who was in chronic pain and working 12-14 hours a day even when he was in town. I am absolutely NO help when it comes to the family vehicles. As she went on with her description, I realized she had been driving one of our older, more decrepit cars. She was penitent about not making this clear earlier. I was mentally relieved, but my adrenaline system was already fully engaged and it was running on ahead without me.
The physical sensation of stress remained in my chest. It strangely reminded me of sensations I felt when one of our daughters died. The mind-body connection is inexplicable. I have felt this only a couple of other times since that most traumatic event. When I was lost in Taipei was one of those times. Another time was when the husband stayed out late in the African bush with the agressive poisonous snakes and reportedly homicidal residents. Now, I was both observing and analyzing myself dispassionately, while being unable to get the reaction to subside. Sleep came with difficulty, was restless, and I woke up in the same state.
I made it through the morning, including a Chinese lesson. Finally, it was time for a run. I was able to run a relaxed 5.5 miles completely barefoot in the brilliant 48 degree sunshine around the ponds of Wilson Springs. All I can say is that God knew what he was doing when he made fresh air and bare feet. And ducks. I think the ducks were nice, too. Bring on the next piece of straw.