Thursday, August 11, 2011

So many thoughts...

Wow, what a week this has been.  We've come back from vacation, settled back in at home, experienced the passing of my grandmother, had one nearly normal day of work/daycare, and then got back on the road for for two-plus days of family time.  I barely had time to process our trip before we were on to another big thing, and now we have about a week to get back into our routines before throwing them off again for the best reason possible--my brother and his family are coming back east and we'll be giving the kids plenty of time to enjoy each others' presence (and us plenty of time to enjoy watching it). 

As a whole, our trip was a tough one.  It had its moments, for sure, and those will probably be the things that make us want to do it again.  It's always fun seeing Jacob experience new things, and it's fun to get out of the norm and do some new things ourselves (or maybe just appreciate the absence of certain other elements of daily life).  But getting to that point was often a challenge.  Jacob spent a good portion of our trip whining about one thing or another.  We'd be playing with one toy and he'd be crying for a toy at home.  We'd put on one cool shirt and he'd be begging for something we didn't pack.  We went to play a cool mini-golf course, and he was melting down about wanting to go to our mini-golf at home.  He wouldn't smile for pictures, wouldn't stand still, wouldn't listen, and would have been completely content staying in the hotel room and throwing, batting and catching baseballs.  I guess we should remember that for next time and save our money, but there's a fine line between having a content child and having one that doesn't go out of his comfort zone to appreciate new things.  Maybe he wasn't ready for the changes, maybe we pushed it on him when he doesn't get enough time at home with us as it is, or maybe we filled the days simply so we weren't exhausted by chasing after him all day, rotating among the same handful of sports.  But we truly thought that the trip would be fun for him--two baseball games, the zoo, beach time, and lots of fun food and new sights.  And while he will probably be talking about certain things for months, it's hard to tell if he truly enjoyed the trip or just tolerated it.

I'll admit that it was hard to do certain things while keeping his needs in mind.  His limited palette made food selections difficult, and working around his naptimes/bedtimes was no small task.  In some cases we didn't do the best job of making sure he was put first--naps were short or non-existent, meals less than healthy or far overdue--but I guess that just goes hand-in-hand with vacations and at least he's old enough to withstand situations like that without any dire consequences.  Most of the time we were crankier about late food or crazy sleep schedules than he was.

The frustrations definitely got to me, and there was a point at which I was convinced that 90% of what was coming out of my mouth was a frustrated statement toward Jacob--telling him to do one thing or stop doing another.  Listen, stay with us, stop hitting, don't step on my foot, smile for the picture, don't throw that, don't swing your bat inside, lay down and sleep, eat this, don't touch that, go on the potty, don't kick sand, we're not buying that, sit in the stroller, sit nice at the table, etc.  Maybe that's bad, but so many of those had a purpose, be it safety-related or just for our convenience...and when combined with some iffy timing on various things throughout the trip, it just made the trip a little more difficult than I had imagined.  I was relieved to come home, for sure.

It was on the way home, however, that we found out my grandma was going downhill, so while we had no idea how quickly she'd go, we did have an inkling that it wouldn't be a normal week one way or another.  I was relieved that we had a few days to decompress, though--time to unpack, do laundry, restock the fridge, and just rest up.  There are few things worse than coming home from vacation and immediately having to jump back into your usual routine.  I didn't really have the "I need a vacation from my vacation" feeling this time around, and I think that buffer time was the reason.  Yes, vacation was stressful and I wouldn't have wanted to be gone any longer or to get back to work any sooner...but I didn't have that crazy exhaustion that normally comes with travel like that.

Once my grandma passed away early Saturday, I knew that it was going to be a crazy few days.  Fortunately I was able to head into work on Monday and get a boatload of catching up done.  Still, I felt bad being gone for two more days knowing the pile of work and even tighter deadlines I'd have waiting for me when I returned.  Of course, none of that mattered and I would never have been anywhere else these last few days, but I'm sure you know what I mean.  It's no fun when someone else's situation makes your life harder, and I hate doing it to other people, too.  Heck, I'm not even pregnant and I'm already stressing about what's going to happen when I go on maternity leave next time (because last time yielded a small miracle and that won't be happening again this time).  My boss's job is hard enough!

The funny thing is that I didn't really know what to expect from all of the funeral activities this time around.  I'm used to how things go with my dad's side of the family, as we've been through the process a few times.  Sad though the occasion might be, we usually find ourselves doing a good deal of smiling as we recall the good times.  The Binkleys are an easy-going bunch and we're good at going with the flow.  We've spent a lot of time together away from major family crises, so in the end funerals tend to be a slightly subdued reunion and we can at least enjoy the togetherness.  My mom's side of the family is a little more fragmented.  Two of her three siblings lived out of town for the majority of my life, so at best we usually had a week or two each year to enjoy their presence and get reacquainted.  Many of the grandkids live out of town as it is, and with not having seen so many in so long, I really had no idea what to expect as far as who would come in.  Additionally, I wasn't sure who we'd see at the funeral home or how the whole process would go in general.

I'm happy to report that things seemed to go very well.  While it was unfortunate my brother couldn't make it in (because of the aforementioned trip next week) and one of my cousins couldn't either (she was just in a week or so ago for her husband's class reunion), I did get to see cousins I hadn't seen in ages.  Regardless of why they hadn't been back in so long, I thought it was a great tribute to my grandma that they made it a priority to be there for this.  It was definitely funny to look around at all of us and realize that we're all grown up (even my youngest cousin).  Many of us have kids...and even some of those kids are darn near grown up, too.  The whole thing was a bit surreal, to be honest.  But it was so good to see everyone and have some time to catch up.  I truly hope that our next visit won't take so long to happen, and when it does, that it's for something positive.

Jacob presented a bit of a challenge this time around.  I had avoided having Jacob around during the funeral activities for my aunt in the spring, but this time I really didn't have a choice.  I knew he'd be a handful during three two-hour visitations, and I feared the actual funeral service because I know how he can be in church.  Turns out my worrying had some merit.  Jacob got in a cat nap right before we arrived for the evening session on Monday.  He was wired from the second we arrived and we spent the evening chasing him down, picking him up off the floor, catching the pillows he threw, and supervising his fascination with the organ in the lobby.  He was a little confused by the whole thing, at least as far as the fact that Great-Grandma was laying in a box in the front of the room, but he does seem to know that she's in heaven with Jesus so we'll leave it at that for now since that's the most important thing anyway. 

For the second viewing on Tuesday afternoon, we held off his nap hoping he'd drop off on the way there and sleep through the whole thing, but that didn't happen.  Fortunately my backup plan did work, which was bringing his hockey game and a slew of his hockey guys with us.  He played contentedly with them for the vast majority of the session, and it was an extra huge relief since Craig had a work thing and that left me as the main wrangler.  Of course, he fell asleep on the way to the evening session and slept through the entire thing.  It was nice to just let him sleep and have a little time to chat, and plenty of people stopped over to admire him, but we knew it might be a long night if he didn't stay asleep.  Sure enough, he woke up just as we were leaving and he didn't go down for good until about midnight.  He wasn't particularly vocal while he was awake, so that was good, but I was definitely concerned about Wednesday.

He slept in until after 8am, and I decided to bring a few of his hockey guys to church (no puck) as an added distraction for the funeral.  Well...he still wanted a puck, and when he got cranky about it, I put the hockey guys away....at which point he totally freaked.  He screamed "I want my hockey guys" about a dozen times before I finally got him out of the church and into a bathroom where we had a bit of a chat.  I was NOT happy about having to miss my grandmother's funeral (Craig couldn't take him because he was a pall bearer and wasn't sure how quick the service would end), and after a bit Jacob calmed down and we went back in.  Still, it was pretty horrible.  All that battling must have worn him out, because he fell asleep on the way to the cemetery and slept through that part.  Fortunately the short nap didn't make him a total maniac at the luncheon, but he didn't eat a whole lot either.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon at my grandma's house, going through some things to pick out a few mementos before the estate sale takes place.  I got some kitchen stuff (springform pan, mini muffin tins, portable 9x13 pan), found one more pair of earrings (to add to some lovely jewelry I chose the other night), some little knicknacks that would remind me of her, and a couple pieces of this deep red glassware that I thought might look nice in my dining room--also pieces that directly remind me of her.  And really, that's what it's all about.  I mentioned to my aunt and cousin that it felt a little funny going through her jewelry (and later the house) while in the midst of the funeral stuff, but then again, I'd tend to think that my grandma would rather we be the recipients of her stuff rather than having nameless, faceless estate sale buyers pawing through it all.  I wanted to make sure I picked out a few things I will treasure.  I know how much I appreciate the things I acquired when my other grandparents' house was getting cleaned out, and I know I'll feel the same way about this stuff.  I'll look at it, use it, and smile.

Jacob fell asleep shortly after we got on the road, around 7:30.  I braced myself for another night like Tuesday, but he barely woke up when we got home.  I quietly changed him into his pajamas, gave him the drink of water he was requesting, and that was it for the night.  We didn't hear from him again until after 7:30 this morning.  I guess he was tired.  So was I.  Today was tiring.  I felt like I emerged from a crazy deep sleep when the alarm went off this morning, and I've been in a similar fog for most of the day.  I think I must have gone through the past few days on adrenaline, and just now my body is telling me it's tired.  While I didn't get super emotional during the past few days (honestly, seeing how she had gone downhill and how much stress my parents were under, it was hard to be anything but relieved in the short term), my grandma is on my mind a lot and I do miss her...more a version of her from a couple years ago than the one from a couple weeks ago, but she will be missed and I have a feeling that the mourning will take place little by little over the weeks and months to come.  When her house sells and it's officially no longer "her house" sitting across the street from my parents, that will be a big one.  Little things will no doubt crop up for a while.

All in all, it's been a crazy couple weeks.  So much to process...and sleep is a good first step :) 

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