Friday, November 25, 2016

Is Alive Enough?

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Two great meals under our belts (literally) and some nice family time with both sides.  I'm currently staring at my living room and dreading the process of starting the Christmas decorating.  Don't get me wrong--I love it when it's done and really enjoy the month and a half I have the decorations up.  But it's a monumental task and it seems to get harder every year.  I adore my decorations and the memories attached to them, but it's a lot, particularly when it involves moving furniture and thinning out the toys to make room.  I'm already overwhelmed with Christmas shopping, as well, as Jacob's list has one thing on it, and of course it's something I'm not interested in getting him.  We have enough stuff so the gifts seem like overkill, but I still appreciate the magic of Christmas morning.  I'd love to do experiences instead of things, but with the boys being so difficult out in public at times, it's hard to think of things that are doable and that they'd appreciate.  Mentally I'm just tired out and the Christmas season has barely begun. 

Thanksgiving was a tough one this year.  I mean, the holiday itself was fine.  The food was great, the family time was pleasant (aside from the usual issues with the kids), and as a whole things went smoothly.  But internally, I felt like my thankfulness was lacking.  Obviously I know I have a blessed life in a million different ways.  I have a loving husband, two kids, an awesome family, a beautiful house, a great job, and all of the creature comforts I need.  We are okay financially (always could be more comfortable, but we're definitely in more-than-acceptable shape), and health-wise we're hanging in there.  My recent issues seem to be fine at the moment and Craig's ulcers are slowly healing.  He is still having trouble with his knees and I really need to start working on my allergies and taste/smell problem, but all things considered we're fine.

But despite knowing how blessed I am and being thankful for all of that, I found myself struggling to come up with a good mini-speech for when we went around the table at Craig's family feast.  It's easy to spout off the usual stuff--the stuff I mentioned above--but usually there's something that stands out as extra special.  Four years ago it was being spared injury when I had a pre-Thanksgiving car accident while pregnant with Carter.  Three years ago it was my healthy baby boy and Craig's Nana being there and having had the chance to meet her great-grandson.  Last year I think it was my new job and Craig's successful surgery.  But this year...nothing stood out.  Let's face it, it's been a rough one.  Three funerals, one for my far-too-young cousin.  Lots of health question marks all year long.  The first sign of behavior issues with Carter.  And, most overwhelmingly, Jacob's leg and his plethora of behavior issues.  Our house has been anything but peaceful and relaxing since Jacob healed up, and I am just mentally and physically exhausted of the constant stress this has caused.  Part of it is the ongoing battles between the kids, which necessitate being a full-time referee and yelling far more than is healthy for anyone.  The other part is my constant worrying about Jacob's complete inability to monitor his behavior and his lack of desire to improve it.  I have to remind him daily (literally) to clean up his breakfast cereal bowl and to brush his teeth.  He seems unable to control himself near his brother, and his inattentiveness is finally starting to impact his schoolwork.  He does not like me at all, he is completely inconsiderate despite continuous efforts to fix it, and he simply cannot regulate himself in any aspect of his life.  The short term issues are annoying, but the long term implications are frightening.  And despite countless prayers, we're struggling more and more every day.

On top of that, my taste and smell issues are another long-unanswered prayer, and I suppose that's starting to get me down, too.  I feel like I'm missing out on tasting amazing things, not being able to make or relive any smell or taste-based memories, and unable to be the kind of wife and mother I should be, since I can't properly protect my kids from hazards or ensure that they're fed tasty food or not giving off any off-putting smells.  There are worse physical problems, obviously--of all the senses I suppose they're the best ones to lose--but having only three of the five means that a big chunk of my life isn't being experienced to the fullest. 

I know that I'm lucky--I've had friends whose little kids have passed away, and I've seen my aunt go through the worst grief imaginable for more than seven months.  And yet our life is relatively stable all things considered, so it makes me angry that I'm letting these two things get in my way.  I mean, geez, Jacob is alive and well, right?  Sort of, anyway.  I know many people who would give anything for their kids to be here in the flesh.  But he wants nothing to do with me and some days we're practically non-functional as a family.  Yes, I get to watch him grow and play lacrosse, which is something, but when I can't truly enjoy it with him, it all feels so empty.  So is being alive enough?  I don't know.  I know it's something, but it's so hard to feel joy when such a big chunk of my life is so heartbreaking. 

I think I've mentioned before how I tend to over-control certain areas of my life when other areas are out of control.  I'll try to control my appearance or de-clutter my house or do a Pinterest craft.  And while you'd think the picture-perfect Christmas house would play right into that, I suppose maybe I'm self-aware enough to know that none of those decorations will actually make our house any happier, and it seems like a whole lot of effort for nothing.  I need to keep trying, I know.  But I try to keep it real here, and rather than spout a bunch of platitudes on the one day of the year we're supposed focus on being thankful, I'll share that while I am incredibly thankful for all of these blessed elements of my life, it's surprising to even me how this challenge has begun to permeate everything.  I feel like life is passing us by and we're losing out on all of these moments to enjoy because of a problem we just can't seem to fix.  We only have so many Thanksgivings and Christmases and Easters and birthdays and summer vacations with little kids, and so many have been spent stressed out and sad that we've yelled through it or dealt with super cranky, ungrateful kids.  We're never going to get those moments back and I'm so sad that I don't know how to fix it...or to look past the hardship and see the good.  Maybe over time it eases up a bit, but in the moment it's just not great and that's what stinks. 

Please understand that I am truly grateful for what we have.  I prefer to live my life in bright, shiny color, and right now it's a muted shade of pale.  I'm thankful for the beautiful landscape but the dark clouds are blocking out its vibrancy.  I'm longing to see this life it as it was intended to be, and right now, this just doesn't feel like this is it.

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