We didn't get back from Montreal until about 11:30 last night. It was a combination of a lot of things--things not going quite as planned, bad weather and traffic, and just trying to make the most of our time there, given the fact it's a bit of a haul to get there and we may not be back for a while. Luckily we got Jacob to fall asleep in the car around 9:30, so it could have been worse...but once we got home there was a lot to do just to settle back in and prepare for this morning. For example, today Santa visited daycare and I had to get a present wrapped and ready to take in (secretly), since I was debating until the last minute what to use as that present. I didn't get to bed until about 12:30, I think, and even with a slightly later alarm this morning, that buzzer came far too early. I woke up extra tired and feeling a little crappy. My stomach has been a little off since last night, most likely from some odd eating patterns over the last couple days. Nothing awful, just off. The past few nights I've been quite congested and waking up with some mild post-nasal drip issues (which, of course, I can't really medicate), so I'm hoping that it's just allergies and not that I've caught the cold Jacob's been dealing with over the past week or so. Long story short, today I am absolutely exhausted.
Work is absolutely crazy right now. We have a lot of new business prospects coming in at the moment, which is insane considering it's the week before Christmas and normally things should be slowing down in anticipation. I wouldn't think anyone would be wanting to make decisions like that (on the client's side, even) at this time of the year, so it boggles the mind a little bit that we've got that on our plates in addition to everything else we'd normally be trying to wrap up in anticipation of being done for the year as of Friday. There literally aren't enough hours in the day as it is, and I'm taking a half day tomorrow for Craig's awesome work Christmas party. In addition, my office's party means that Thursday is a half day, as well. Evenings are going to be jam packed with the party Tuesday, Jacob's Christmas program Thursday, and buying and wrapping in between. I have some food things to figure out, too, between treats for Christmas and one for my office, not to mention just feeding my family for normal dinners and all that.
Montreal was a good trip and I'm glad we did it. Jacob had his usual behavior issues that tend to crop up whenever we're out of our normal routine, but aside from that the trip was fine and I'll have a recap to post at some point when I can squeak out some time, hopefully before I forget the details.
But as a whole, today I'm just generally overwhelmed. Between recovering from the weekend, holiday events and preparations, and work, there's just so much to consider. And then this morning, some reverberations from Friday's school shooting started to crop up in my mental state, which was already a little iffy given everything above. Obviously when it happened it was jarring and horrible, and I've been thinking about it all weekend. I had plenty of other things to keep me occupied, though, so I never really had to dwell on it beyond moments here and there where I'd read a news story or have a couple minutes of quiet. One thing I keep coming back to is the feeling I had right after my car accident. Everyone kept saying that "things can be replaced, people can't," and yes, I totally get that and couldn't agree more. I was so grateful that the baby and I made it out fine and that no one else was with me. I was sad to see the car go (along with many upcoming years of no car payment), but ultimately that was just a footnote. What tortured me most about the experience was the vivid reminder that things can change so quickly, and once they do, there's no going back. I couldn't undo what had happened and I couldn't really shake the memory either. It's dulled a bit in the past few weeks, but that realization of "Holy crap, that just happened...and it could have been so much worse," is still very real in my mind. There's always the thought of what I might have done differently, or how a minute here or there would have changed everything. And now, in light of Friday's events, I can't even imagine what's going through the heads of everyone involved, particularly the parents. There's truly nothing they could have done, but I'm sure they wonder how things might have been different if their kids caught that cold or if they'd had a doctor's appointment that day, or somehow ended up in another class or another school or another city. I can't imagine living with the reality that not only is your child gone, but there's nothing you can do to bring them back and nothing you can do to get the thought of how they died out of your head. Never knowing how those last seconds went down would torture me forever. I felt fortunate that we didn't lose anything irreplaceable in the accident, but those poor families have lost something incredibly precious for reasons beyond anyone's comprehension.
The past few days I've walked the line of being grateful for every moment with Jacob and feeling guilty for getting frustrated when he's been naughty. He can be difficult a lot, but any time we take a trip it seems to be amplified. I don't know if it's a routine thing, a sleep thing, or just a function of spending more condensed time with him. It's probably a little of everything. We want to give him experiences, of course, and have some of our own, so I don't foresee us passing up opportunities like this often (aside from what a new baby will prevent, of course), but admittedly it's frustrating when we try to do something fun and get defiance and crankiness in response. This weekend there was a lot of not listening, a lot of demands, and a lot of "nasty mommy" when those demands were not met. I don't take the nasty mommy thing personally because I know he needs limits and the ones we set are not unreasonable. He just doesn't seem to understand (despite experiencing it regularly) that he's not supposed to get everything he wants, and that fact does not make us bad parents. He flat-out defies logic, refusing to do things he's going to have to do anyway. And half the time, I swear he's just doing it to be difficult because he likes getting a rise out of people, even if it doesn't benefit him in the long run, like refusing to do something you know he'll whine about not having done later.
This morning he had an absolute meltdown about the stuffed animals he wanted to take to daycare. He wanted to bring two, which is normally fine, but they were both bigger and he knows he's not supposed to take more than one big one. I also knew these two together had the potential to distract him from napping, or make him disruptive if he woke up early, so I vetoed it and told him to pick two others or only take the one. He had a super-tantrum about the whole thing, to the extent that even Craig was yelling at him, which doesn't happen often. It was a disaster, and I gave him a long talking-to in the car on the way (once we finally dragged him into his coat and out to the car). I know that I should be grateful that I could even take him to daycare this morning, as there are 20 sets of parents in Connecticut that can't do that today. I feel bad that we even had to yell at him this morning, rather than give him a dozen extra hugs and kisses like most parents probably did. In fact, I was so angry this morning that the drop-off didn't really phase me like it probably should have. On one hand I know that he's probably tired and the tantrum isn't entirely his fault, but at the same time, giving in isn't really the answer either because it sets a bad precedent. It's an impossible situation.
Of course, then I get into work and when I opened my web browser to pull up a site I needed for work, I happened to see that there was an article about the first two funerals being today. Seeing those boys' faces and reading their stories practically had me sobbing at my desk. I was trying my hardest to keep quiet and manage the tears, but I didn't do too well. A little while later I glanced at my Facebook news feed and saw that one of my favorite bloggers had written a blog post about it, and her blog got me teary all over again because she talked about the same guilt issues I'm having and how she felt compelled to teach her five-year-old to pray because she just didn't know what else to do. It was really sweet and it just got me all over again.
Tonight was much of the same because Jacob was acting all spoiled and cranky again. He was excited about his gift from Santa (a small Playmobil pirate set that we had originally bought for a gift for someone else years ago but never ended up giving--and decided it would be good for Jacob this year), but then when I was talking to him about going to Buffalo tomorrow so Craig and I can go to Craig's party and Jacob can hang out with his grandparents, he started insisting he wasn't going. Of course he's going to go because he doesn't have a choice, and he will have a blast, no doubt...so why the attitude?! His behavior, coupled with my impossible week, got me upset all over again. My heart breaks for those kids and the people that love them, and I'm here feeling guilty/cranky that I can't appreciate the child I have because he spends most of his waking moments making me angry. What is up with that? The fact that I'm even pondering withholding Santa this year may seem bitter and evil at its surface, but from my perspective it shows how insanely desperate I am to convince Jacob that his behavior needs an overhaul. If he won't believe us, maybe he'll believe Santa's absence. It seems so wrong, but nothing else is working right now and it's killing me. But then I feel guilty because those parents in Connecticut would do anything to give even one gift to their kids, no matter how bad their behavior was.
I know this post is just a little all over the place, but that's been my day today. I'm stressed about Jacob, stressed about work, stressed about Christmas, and absolutely heartbroken for the improbable, unthinkable tragedy that never should have happened. The good of the season is pretty much lost on me right now, and I'm fighting time to squeak out some good in the next week. Prayers appreciated....for me and the rest of this crazy, mixed-up world.