Matt has been in China for 8 days now. This means, I am left with 4.5 days to go as single mom to 5 kids under age 7. There have been some highs. There have been lots and lots, well, and lots of lows...but mostly it's just been 8 days of extremely, painful in the chest, palpitations, nausea provoking anxiety. Every single one of my minutes, of every single day is occupied. By somebody else, and then some. Between work, school, sports, feedings, laundry, dishes, meetings, broken bones, rotton teeth, poop, pee, baths, beds, books, toys, walks, dogs, cats, finger nails (120 of them to be exact), I have literally no time to even think my own thoughts.
It is all I can do to keep my head above water. In all of my life (and I've done some pretty difficult things, like Med School, Residency, Division I Swimming, etc) the ONLY THING that has even come close to comparing to the brokenness I currently feel, was Christmas training camp at IU. Specifically, my Sophomore and Junior years. Even still, the exhaustion, beat down, and pain that I felt then was 90% physical. What I am experiencing now is 90% mental/emotional. Simply put: MY BRAIN HURTS. I think some people describe this as a headache (not something I routinely experience.) Maybe it's a tumor. You know that popular saying, right now? "I just can't." Well. I can't.
I. just. CAN. NOT.
I had been mentally preparing myself (and my family, and friends, and nanny) for the fact that Matt was flying halfway across the world - or is China ALL the way across the world? - for a few weeks prior to his departure. This extensive, good intentioned, but seemingly (at the time) over the top preparation helped me get through, exactly, the first 2.5 days. Then, it happened. I can remember the exact moment that the "I CAN" attitude got squelched. It was like a birthday candle being doused with 2 gallons of water. So over the top. So unnecessary. No. I am not talking about having to find time to repair Brock's broken arm. I am not referencing his dentist appointment. Nor the back to school night that went an hour too long. Nor the changes in work schedule. It was on night 3, when I found out that Brock had been selected to be, THE FIRST, "Student of the Week" in his First Grade class.
Translation: Oh, you are home? Alone with 5 kids? Taking care of all of their needs, while working full time and trying to keep rodents from taking over your filthy, disgusting, neglected house because your children insist on crumbling crackers and cereal while they eat it walking through the house, and stripping down thereby leaving dirty clothes throughout the house, and the dog pissed the floor again, and your mental health is hanging on by the thinnest of all that is hardly visible thread? Well then, let me hand you our BIGGEST project of the year. You know. That one that is "all about the kid". The one that needs pictures printed. Paper cut and colored. The one that requires you (the most impatient human to ever exist, who has never spent more than 30 seconds on her own homework in her whole life) to try and get your child to sit and write (his least favorite thing EVER, by the way) and think about the things he "loves" while his 3-4 other siblings run a muck. Crying. Laughing. Watching movies. Playing.
This assignment rocked me to my core, I couldn't even cry OR laugh about it. I simply switched into survival mode...and that is where I have remained. I tried to look at the silver-lining. It will be done. He's the first, therefore NO expectations. I get it. He's the new kid in the class, it's his chance to tell his new classmates all about himself. It all makes sense, but, fuck. The timing is so bad. I told myself, it's ok, technology is extremely advanced. I will simply choose some pictures on my phone, load them online and pick them up from Crick Camera. My favorite locally owned camera shop. An hour and 3 failed attempts later, I gave up on Crick. Screw it. I will just stop in CVS with my USB cord and print some from my phone. Fast forward 4 days later (the day before it's due) and I, to the shock of no one, have not had one second to stop in CVS. I call my mom, asking if I can drop the kids and run in the store for 15 minutes to print photos.
ONE HOUR LATER, I have prints in hand. One hour. An hour I simply did NOT have to offer. If I was going to get an hour, free of children, it should have been to work out. You know. Release some endorphins. Or eat a decent meal, not another meal of hot dogs and potato chips. Or get a pedicure. Or sit and have my own thoughts again for a minute. This particular Kodak Kiosk, would not recognize my device. I needed to download the App. But apparently my App store had disappeared. I thought the App Store app couldn't be deleted!!?? Those kids have managed to find yet, another way to ruin my life. I can't even go to the App Store to find and download another App Store. I had 3 other iPhone users completely stumped. Gone. 20 minutes later, thanks to Google, I found it. Matt had turned off my "in-App" purchasing, thereby, "hiding" the App store all together. I had to call him in China (1am his time) to find out the random password he decided to use, instead of the usual 4-digit codes each of us have used all of our lives. The Kiosk then shut down. Just decided, you know what, I don't feel like functioning properly. I feel your day has not yet had enough obstacles. It had to be rebooted. This takes 8 minutes. Never, in my life, have I ever cussed to random people. (Not AT. But TO.) That streak ended today.
I'm really not sure I can handle anything else. The simplest requests feel like 135 pound weights on my chest. I used my precious child nap time to help Brock compile all the components of his board. Laundry which should have been folded (or, who are we kidding, at least sorted) remains untouched. Unwashed even. The mice are probably having a party with all the unvacuumed crumbs. My sanity has been chipped away at, yet again. But, the project is complete. It's ready to hand in on Monday. He might not have a uniform to wear, but his (my) homework is finished.
That is, until Wednesday, when the PARENT'S are assigned to write a note. At least this time, it is appropriately titled. I mean, let's be honest. This entire project, along with almost all of grade school, is really just parent homework, right? I don't really know this for sure. Brock is my oldest, so I am just now experiencing this whole "school thing" from the other side. I don't remember doing homework, at all. I definitely don't remember my mom helping me with it. And now, I am a doctor. So, maybe I just leave them be?
Who knows. What I do know, is:
Four. More. Days.
I. can. not.