I don't really know how else to describe how I'm feeling right now besides "thrown off". Maybe "out of sorts"? Life right now is just weird. To be fair, it's not like the alternate universe I felt like I was living in a few years ago when Jacob's biggest issues started and we dealt with a lot of family medical issues and other problems that just seemed to create an endless cycle of sadness and frustration. But everything just seems a little off from normal, and I can't quite put my finger on why that suddenly seems to be the case.
Obviously Jacob's issues have ramped up a bit again in the past few weeks--obviously with the church and grocery store situations as the prime examples. I'm not sure his actual behaviors have gotten worse, exactly, but I feel like he's gotten bolder. His defiance and his anger with his brother (and us) seems to have moved up a notch. So while he still never listens, now he's just extra rude about it. Or he simply will not do what we need him to do AT ALL. I can see that there is so much anger and resentment and frustration under all of this, but I simply don't know how to dig through it and help him. He is just so firmly convinced that Carter is his mortal enemy, that our punishments are simply meant to make his life miserable (he's not doing anything wrong, after all--ha), and that he knows better than us. It is impossible for him to consider giving us an inch, a tiny benefit of the doubt, that we might know what's best for him. He is convinced we either need to get rid of Carter or he needs to move out on his own...like now. Yeah, that's the version of reality we're dealing with. It's impossible. He will not consider that he's making his life worse by not finding a way to live with Carter. I tried to explain to him the other day that by only considering one possible route/solution with so many things in his life, he could be missing out on something better. I used a movie metaphor and asked him for his favorite movie. I said, "Can you imagine what would have happened if the first time you watched that movie, you said, 'No, I'd rather watch [insert movie we've seen a million times here] again?' You'd have missed out on your favorite movie!" So instead of him being sure that he will never like Carter and never get along with him, perhaps he should consider that he might find a lot of joy in getting to like him. But no, Carter is too young and (God forbid) wears a diaper (Pull-up) at night, so apparently that's impossible. Never mind that Jacob wore a pull-up to bed until he was far older than Carter is now, and that Carter is really a pretty easy-going, sweet kid who does a decent job of staying out of Jacob's way. He certainly has his moments, but he knows to stay out of Jacob's room and (contrary to Jacob's misguided mindset) does not touch the Legos when he comes into the basement, so I think that's pretty impressive for a three-year-old. But he's got it in his mind that Carter will destroy everything and is ruining his life. Ugh. So I guess the fact that we're back to a barely workable home situation is just tiring me out.
I think a big part of it is just summer in general. Things are always just a little weird in the summer, but this year has been even more so. Jacob rides to work with me, and usually home with me as well. He's not going to the same daycare as he's been at for years, so we're dealing with a new place, new people, new activities, and new policies. It's weird to think he's growing up and getting to the point of doing new things more often, and I feel like this summer is just the beginning. After all, he goes to a new school in the fall, too.
Another issue is that this year his birthday party was so much later than usual, which I think made summer feel a little incomplete until now. I also feel like our flow is so much different around the house, too. There used to be a lot of outside time around dinnertime, but there has been less of that. It's probably because it's hard to have both kids out there together, so it's just easier to keep them occupied separately inside. Of course, our broken air conditioner has made the flow thing even more different, as all of a sudden I have a new twice daily routine of window opening and closing, and everyone except me is sleeping in the basement. I've spent every night since we moved into that house checking on kids in one bedroom or another, and now I'm going to the basement! Oh, and I suppose the fact that our office is slightly cleaner for the first time in ages (thanks to a large, long-awaited donation to charity) and the family room in the basement is totally switched around (thanks to the arrival of our elliptical) doesn't help matters. Everything just feels different.
And, of course, we have a new vehicle. All of a sudden we're van people with a very fancy, automated minivan. Doors open and close with a button, there is space to pack things, we have a DVD player, and (as of yesterday morning) our van floor looked like the bottom of Jacob's closet. These are all new things for us, and I think because that process in particular happened within two days, it's still barely sunk in. I haven't actually driven it yet, either, so maybe that, too.
Another issue that has me off is that Carter is seriously growing up. Slowly but surely the baby stuff is getting put away, and this time it won't be returning to use later. That reality is hard to take, even if at the same moment it is strangely freeing. All of a sudden I'll look at something--a bib in a kitchen drawer, sippy cups in the cabinet, toys in the living room--and I'll realize we really don't need that there anymore. With putting things away comes guilt--Did it get used enough?--and panic--What do we do with this now? Donate? Sell? Give away?--as things pile up in storage. What is special enough to keep? Will it go to waste if I do keep it? I have boys who are usually far less sentimental than I would be, so is saving things silly? My parents had a great assortment of stuff saved that my kids have enjoyed, but some of what was put away for me ended up in the donation box, too. It's just hard. I don't really want to have a yard sale, but a lot of our stuff is in good shape and it would be nice to get more than a tax write-off back for it. I could do consignment, but I have never done it and I don't know how much effort is involved there either. But as Carter's room has shifted to a big boy space and the baby stuff has disappeared, I find myself a little lost. I aimlessly wander past the baby section at stores, still trying to figure out if there's anything we still need there. I freak out when I see pictures of Jacob at the same age Carter is now, and realize just how quickly we went from that age to this one, and will once again.
I don't know. I guess I just feel like we were doing the status quo for a while, where nothing really seemed to change. And now all of a sudden so many things look and feel different, and I'm not sure if it's always been like this and I'm just now noticing, or if we're starting down a path where change will be constant. I'm sure that when school starts and things get back into more of a routine I won't feel as much like this, but right now it seems like things are coming fast and furious. I guess that part of summer is always having an event to look forward to, rather than the weeks and weekends on end where being housebound is the norm. In some ways the change is good--it keeps things exciting and keeps us on our toes. But sometimes it's scary and overwhelming and a lot to process in the midst of an already busy daily life.
Of course, it's not going to be getting better anytime soon. Next week is a week off for us, totally out of our routine! There will be some home time and vacation time crammed in there, and while I'm pretty worried about Jacob and how he will act when we have many days of family togetherness, I'm hoping the change of scenery and the slower pace at home will be good for all of us.
How, after all of this, am I still an optimist? Insanity, I think...