Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Pause

This post may make it WAY into the realm of TMI for more than a few. But it is what is is. It's what is going on in my life and it is what I want to write about. So any skittish or cowardly readers who don't want to think about or discuss THE PAUSE may exit now.

For the last 4 months or so, I have been more than mildly worried that I have been losing my mind. Seriously. No, really - seriously. While on vacation in Colorado with my family this summer, I burst into tears many times, successfully (or not?) hiding my daytime crying spells and crying myself to sleep more nights than not. I had to soak my face in cold water every morning to try to diminish the puffy eyelids I get when I cry at night so my parents and siblings and nieces and nephews wouldn't think I had been transformed into a monster. This fall, I have found myself driving down Rt. 199 here in the Burg, sobbing - SOBBING - SOBBING over the fact that my kids were growing up (duh! It's what happens! They grow up!). I'm talking, not able to breathe, gasping, horrific earth-shaking sobbing. I have yelled at friends (well, I didn't realize I was yelling at the time, but she interpreted it that way, given the raised voice and all) and have found myself wandering the halls of the high school with tears streaming down my face. I have had knock down drag out emotional nosedives with both of my children. In all of these cases, there was a part of me there that was barely cognizant of what was going on, was horrified at my out-of-control behavior, and was completely unable U.N.A.B.L.E. to stop it. I have felt like a possessed woman and have been terrified that I am losing my mind. Seriously. At times other than these horrific emotional upheavals, I have felt completely out of sorts, unnatural, different, unsettled, and unhappy in general. I have been attributing this feeling to the stress of balancing raising my kids with my job and with being band booster president and with keeping the lives of so many people just moving in the right direction in general, but it didn't seem right. I've been stressed before and I haven't fallen apart like this. I have been struggling to simply keep it together, to simply make it from day to day. I have been on the phone with my parents so many times lately, having called them in a near panic, and found myself with tears streaming down my face and unable to articulate what was wrong, so I would pretend I had just called to say hi.

I have finally figured it out. Each of my enormous emotional upheavals have been accompanied the next day by, ahem, Auntie Flo. I have not had PMS like this since I was a teenager going through puberty (and maybe not even then). I've not felt such emotions since my hormones were undergoing the enormous fluctuations of puberty - the enormous fluctuations like those that also occur in..... (ahem) perimenopause.

Excuse me a moment, but....


Well that certainly explains it. Coincidentally, as my daughter's body is entering a new phase, as it is undergoing enormous changes and hormonal fluctuations, so am I. As she begins, so I end.

It was huge relief to realize that 1) I've not been making this up - I really have been going through something different and major the last 4 months, and 2) there is an explanation for it. It is also profoundly sad for me. It seems like it hasn't been that long since the whole female adventure started. How can it be that I am at the end already? It's not like I wanted more children. I already have the two most perfect children anyone could want or need. It's just.... so final.

At least I know what's happening now, and can talk to my doctor about something that might help. How horrible and terrifying for women long ago who might not have had information available. It's not been a good several months. I truly thought I was losing my mind. I can only hope that now that I understand, things will be better and I won't be as confused and worried about my sanity. Maybe I'll figure out a way to stop crying and maybe my kids will stop being afraid of being in the same room with me.

I don't believe in god. But if there were one, I'd have a few choice words for him. I say "him" with careful certainty because no god with female characteristics would pull this kind of nasty joke on women in their middle age, after they successfully made it through the emotional upheaval of puberty and bearing children. No. A female deity would not do this.

And so it goes. Time passes, and people age. Things are still good, and I'll still find the happiness out there...especially when this hormonal crap is over. Until then, keep the wine coming and send lots of happy vibes and wishes of patience to my sweet husband.

Ride the Pause. Wheeeeee!!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

warts and all

Warts make you think of witches, I bet. When I was little, I had a line of warts that would come and go on my forearm. I was absolutely horrified by them (as any good preteen would be). More recently, I've had a series of plantar warts that don't so much horrify me as piss me off. They're highly painful, inconvenient, and gross. The latest one is on my big toe, if anyone cares.

"Warts and All": The whole thing; not concealing the less attractive parts.

I was raised as a band kid. With a band director for a father, I grew up believing that high school consisted solely of band kids and football kids. Band kids went to school to learn to play instruments and to march at football games played by the football kids. This was exacerbated by growing up in Texas, which is big for football and band. My childhood memories include band trips and being passed around the bus by teenage girls who oohed and awwed over the books I was reading. I adored band and everything about it. (Largely because I adored my father!!) Then, somehow, I grew up a little bit and was old enough to BE in band. I adored it even more. My high school memories are, essentially, band memories. The smells of uniforms, of my mouthpiece, of the bus. The band hall with corregated silver walls and forests of music stands. The sounds of the band hall, of random pieces of music while kids warmed up. Snippets of marching tunes. Memories of friends, of competition, of being part of something great.

I didn't think anything could top those memories, until I had children. And then my children joined band and I was able to watch their joy in being part of band. Let me tell you...watching your child enjoy something magnifies the level of joy multifold. Thousands of multifold. Last year, my son was a freshman and started high school band. Finally!! Last fall was amazing. Suddenly, after years of absence, I was plunged firmly back into the life of band. Rehearsals. Competitions. The thrill of doing well. Laughter, silliness, companionship. I was lifted up to the heights I'd forgotten about - had never even really known to that extent. It was like a drug. I wanted more. I wanted to dive in, to encourage, to participate.

So I did.

I became Band Booster president. And this year? This year, I have been made acutely aware of the warts that exist behind the scenes. Instead of hearing the band play "The Jerk" in the stands and watch them dance, I am racing through traffic to return to the band hall to retrieve a forgotten uniform. Instead of 150% rejoicing in the 2nd place win the band received at their first competition, I am trying to figure out how to deal with a student passing out from heat exhaustion while a well-meaning but power-hungry chaperon turns into a bear and yells at anyone who dares try to help. Instead of dissolving in ecstasy into the fall temperatures and colors, and into the fun of MARCHING SEASON, I am receiving phone calls from irate and over-worked board members and stressing out over fundraisers. The joy has completely disappeared with the emergence of the warts. Big time.

I have discovered that I don't love band, warts and all. I really only love it without the warts. I love it as the fairy tale I grew up with. I love the possibilities and dream of it. I don't love the reality of it. I am not loving worrying about budgets and concessions and volunteer hours. I'm not loving it, and I'm pissed. (There is SOOO much drama I am not describing here, as you can certainly imagine.)

It would take only a small move to return to the love and joy I felt last year. I could make the decision that I do not want to continue to sacrifice my personal enjoyment and not continue as band booster president next year. I could step down and return to "highly involved" but not "responsible" parent. There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly tempting, and it's a very plausible next decision.

There are those who love, and those who know the warts and still love. I have decided those are two very distinctive groups. I have not decided which one is preferable. Warts are reality. But they are an ugly reality. Are we better off ignoring their existence, or in acknowledging them and accepting them? I am not sure.

What is my role as a parent? That question is easy. My role is to facilitate the best life possible for my children. My son doesn't see the warts that I see. He sees the same thing I saw when I was in high school band - warts free. And there is nothing I want more than to assure that he and my daughter have a collection of fantastic memories.

How to assure that? To be decided.