I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hills and Valleys (child anxiety)

It is proving to be a challenging week. And it's only Tuesday.

Last week, like any, came with it's ups and downs, but everyone worked hard, and did his and her best. As everyone does, we all faced some challenges, and we all found ways to recharge. My daughter managed this along with the rest of us. She faces life with an undiagnosed anxiety (disorder? condition?) whatever, so her ups are often a little more up than the rest of us, and her downs can be a bit more down. Not a problem, it can just take her a little bit more time and proper conditions to come back to her baseline.

By Friday, we were all ready to be done for the week. DD verbalized that she didn't want to go to school. She said that while she likes school, "I just like you better, Mama." Her way of saying she's pooped and needs to rest. I gently encouraged her to face the day the best she could, try to be in the moment, and go easy on herself. I told her I couldn't wait to come pick her up, and I meant it. The attachment parent in me wanted to keep her home. The anxiety built in to me knows that I needed her to spend some time at school in order for me to recharge. Because I was anxious.

We had planned for a couple of weeks to go to my father's for the weekend. I had decided to go on Saturday, and return on Sunday. This sets my nerves on end in several ways. For one thing, I would be traveling with the kids on my own. I have done so countless times before, but it's always a little anxiety producing. And then there was the packing. I am a lousy packer. I am disorganized by nature, and find the idea of creating a small amount of core items out of a giant mess of a house very intimidating. And I tend to forget something each time, so I worry about that. And I try to do all of that while entertaining a 2-year-old. So I walk in circles all day feeling frustrated. Add to that the fact that DH has been a tense mess and is looking SO forward to us going away, so he can have some recharge time for himself. So when, three days ahead of departure day, I develop a headache (unusual for me) and DD complains of a "thick throat" I start to wonder if we are coming down with something that will necessitate a change of plans. I worry much more about the absolute crushing disappointment DH will display at even the slight suggestion that we MIGHT stay home, than the possible illness itself. Then there is the typical and anticipated transition anxiety that DD experiences with any change in routine. And on top of that, the more recently and most likely short-lasting phase that DS is going through, where he begs me not to take him anywhere. And this is what I was carrying as the week wore on last week.

After about 2.5 days, my headache, which was only minor, and somehow sinus related, went away. DD did not complain about her throat after the one morning. We were on for the trip. Friday I dropped an exhausted (school-exhausted, if you know what I mean) DD off at school, and headed home to pack. DS started in with his statements that he didn't want to go. DH had decided to come home early to help. He helped DS get some things together, and when DD came home, he helped her to pack. I managed the rest.

Saturday morning, and DS is in full-blown toddler-mode. He does NOT want to go! I do no know what to do. DH is starting to get upset. DD is just looking at me saying, "So, are we going?" As DH gets progressively upset and angry, I decide that I am going, come hell or high tantrum, because I'm pissed at DH. I bring all of our stuff to the door, he packs it in the car, and we're ready to head out. I, in a rare moment, express my feelings at DH, and we are now having an argument. Over the roof of the car we agree to talk about things later, and we leave.

Three hours later, the kids and I are in NJ. DS had quickly turned his upset to anticipation (attaboy!) and the kids were happy to be there. My father started the list of "things we could do" and I suggested that maybe our visit was short enough this time that just being there was enough.

We end up outside, playing, which the kids love. This fall they have fallen in love with the idea of jumping in his leaf piles in the front yard. I stand near the road, and watch. Suddenly, my daughter approaches me and says, calmly, that something had poked into her leg. One second later she is screaming. She has realized that she has been stung by a bee, and it's still there. My father materializes at this point, and wipes the bee away. DD is hysterical. I get her inside, and over the coarse of about five minutes, manage to convince her to get her pants off so we can look at the sting. Over the next 30 minutes, with a constant minute of screaming, minute of calm, minute of screaming, minute of calm (repeat) I manage to look up bee stings on my computer and take care of things. We have managed to get upstairs to our bedroom, and after a few minutes, DD informs me that she is hungry. I go downstairs to make sandwiches, and my father comments that the kids don't eat at meals but eat when they want.  The rest of the day is fairly uneventful, though my daughter periodically feels she cannot walk, which means hauling her down narrow spiral stairs.

The next day is a travel day, but I'm not in a big hurry to hit the road. Hubby and I have been checking in with each other. We are just hanging out, and plan to leave after lunch. We end up in the front yard again, with the fabulous piles of leaves. The kids are pretty happy, and I am trying to get up packed up as I'm able. DD starts screaming. Shreaking. She has been stung again. I fly over to her, as done my son. Somewhere in the hysteria, I realize DS is crying, and I wonder if it's sympathy panic. No, he is bent over his hand. He, too, has been stung. As I do my best to grab them, I feel a sting on my temple. I grab them and get us inside. Screaming, hysterical children, and my adrenals are firing whatever they have left to fire. As he did Saturday during the first sting situation, grabbed his medical bag, and put a can of First Aid spray in front of us. I used it. The kids requested to go up to our bedroom, and right away requested sandwiches, just like Saturday. What an interesting reminder that kids crave routine! I made them. DS, as is his nature, was fine once the sting settled down a bit. He sat there watching a DVD with his sandwich. Crisis over. DD, as is her nature, was upset longer, and needed more time and efforts to settle back down. I add to this that I was on the phone with DH when the second stings occurred, and I rather abruptly hung up, surely leaving him very concerned on the other end. So I called him quickly a couple of times during all of this to fill him in and reassure him that all was well in the end.

After a while, we make it back downstairs. DS picks up the First Aid spray, which was sitting on the carpet. I tell him to be careful, that's it's medicine spray, and suggested he not spray it. He's two, and pretty good, but ... more screaming. He had sprayed the stuff directly into his eyes. I grab him and wash his eyes out with water, and hoped like crazy that that was the right thing to do. I wiped his eyes with a cloth, and he settled down right away. Phew.

My stress exhaustion was settling in in a big way now, and I still faced a three hour drive with two kids. By now I just wanted to get us on the road. I suggested to my father that we eat lunch early. He got right to it and made us some food. Now DD, who had pretty much settled down at this point, reminded me that she had really wanted to go on a picnic for lunch. I had zero desire to do anything more than eat and take off, but DD can be very insistent! To her absolute credit, she suggested that perhaps we could set up a table in the living room and have a picnic there. Yes! I could do that! I informed my father, and he set things up. We ate. Add in to all of this that DD is in this phase where most foods are not appealing to her, and she really doesn't eat much at meal times when we aren't at home. She had basically been existing on peanut butter crackers since we got there. Anyhow, I ate. I then packed the car, got the kids in the car, and left.

The ride back was fine. We arrived fried, and happy to be home. DH, to his credit, had bought stuff to make pumpkin pies with the kids. He got DD engaged in that pretty quickly. My much anticipated and desperately needed evening "break" time arrived, and I headed to the basement where my fabulous sewing room exists. I put my attention on a sewing pattern I've been making, and allow myself to disconnect from things for a little while. We eat dinner, relax for a bit, and I take the kids upstairs to bed. DD is still very wired. DS conks out gratefully. DD also falls asleep. I start to get up. She is just barely over on my pillow, and I decide to try to gently remove it, so the kids don't take it over before I come up to bed. Big mistake. DD wakes up, and an anxious DD won't go back to sleep. My dander is up in a big way at this point. I need her to go to sleep!! I am so in need of some time to unwind that I feel desperate. It is not to be. I inform her that I'm going downstairs to tell Papa that I'm staying up there. I go down, make myself a drink (!!!) and head back up. DH, to his credit, comes up too. We read together, and DD finally falls back to sleep. I go to bed, too.

Monday. Ugh. None of us wants to face it. But we all do. What choice do we have? I remind DD on the way to school to take things one minute at a time, and just do the best she can. I remind her that the weekend was not exactly relaxing (!) and that we didn't get time to unwind, so to go easy on herself. Then I remember that I have a dental appt. I inform DS, who of course starts his pleas that we not go. We get there, and DH has met us. DS reaches his arms to me, but I tell him I will meet him afterwards. The visit is fine. In fact I have a pleasant conversation with the hygienist after she compliments my tote bag, which I made. She enjoys crafting, and we chat happily about it all. Then the dentist comes in. He checks my teeth and all that, then out of nowhere starts telling me how important it is to get out without the kids. ??? Where did this come from? I hadn't said a word other than I spend my time chasing my kids around. He looked at me, and said, "You look tired. Take care of yourself." Whoa!

The rest of the day kind of goes. DS was outside on his tricycle about 45 minutes before we had to go pick up DD from school. He asked to go to the end of the road to an area we call the dirt hills. I told him we didn't have time, and he throws a mini-fit, indicating to me that he is ready to nap. I get us in the car and drive. He does not go to sleep. @#$%! I drive and drive and nothing. I finally take us to a nearby store, and we walk around for a while. Then we drive some more, until it's finally time to get DD. Everything is well, and the afternoon/evening goes pretty smoothly. The time for my evening "break" comes around again, and I head downstairs. Within a couple of minutes, I hear DD screaming and crying. My heart sinks. I understand what is happening but it still makes me feel sad. She is tired. Exhausted. She has not had the relaxing weekend she needed to regroup, and she's just reached her limit. She is at the door of the basement insisting that she needs me. DH protects my alone time any way he can, and the tension quickly rises to a fever pitch. After a while, the noise settles down. But I am sad. And tired. And done.

Bed time comes, and DD informs me that she may not be able to sleep again. We talk about it for a bit. But I'm irritated. I can't help it. Her anxiety results in my being kept on a very short leash, and I am quite protective of the little time that I do get to myself. And this new "thing" is compromising some of that. After some while, she does fall asleep. (I sat near the kids this time, NOT between them as usual, and had my pillow out of the way BEFORE DD went to sleep!! I was able to very quietly get myself out of the room. Phew!

Then I get downstairs and DH is in a lousy mood. He is cursing the difficulty he has in putting a lunch together for DD, who is so picky there really is very little she will agree to eat. I agree to do it, and he heads to the couch. I put together a lunch, and after some while, finally land on the couch. DH and I actually get a little time to watch part of movie, and I head to bed.

And so it's Tuesday. Onward we go. DD asks me daily to promise that I won't leave the house during my "break." She asks me nightly to promise that I won't leave the house while she's sleeping. She insists on getting out of bed when I do, even though she is still tired, and could sleep for another half-hour. She usually falls back to sleep on the couch. She asked me this morning if I had any doctor or dentist appointments. And so forth.

Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

  1. I hate traveling. The packing usually ends in me yelling at everyone. I stress about what to pack and that I'll forget something important. I stress about food...what will we eat...food allergies are not fun when away from home. DH loves to go visiting, it renews him and leaves me drained. DH keeps talking about a long road trip to see his sister for Chritmas. I HATE the idea. I make excuses but I am sure a lot of it is my anixiety issues. I worry about, food, clothes, judgement, packing throws me for a spin. I hate idea of getting sick...my SIL's kids always have some kind of illness. I stress about all the sugar that is at my SIL's(hmm..that's prob why they are always sick). I stress about Onaleigh's eczema, and about how our dog will handle us leaving. No matter if it's a weekend or a week I get the same way. I worry I'll get in a bad mood, I'm really bad at hiding my feelings, they are all over my face. And usually this leads to a fight w/ DH that makes me want to jump out of the car...and I'm the one that picks the fight! I hate giving up DH's vacation time for time for more work and that won't revive me. Anyway I just wanted to tell you I hate getting ready for trips.

    And hey the bee sting thing. I always keep a thing of plain white meat tenderizer in the van. I add a little water to make a paste, apply. Then ice if the child will allow it. Leaves you w/ a spot smaller than a mosquito bite! My mom has done this one on a child who was allergic to stings and had the same result, when their mom came to take the child to the ER the sting was no more than a small dot.