When The Drama Doesn’t Stop

Last year at this time, my husband was recovering from a near-death experience that required surgery and hospitalization, we had just buried my mother-in-law after she suffered a massive heart attack and stroke, and we were preparing for our son’s wedding – all while in the midst of a major kitchen remodel. So when I ran into a colleague last week and told her that I was looking forward to a relaxing, uneventful summer this year, I should have known to knock on wood.

One week ago today, my 19 year old son was riding in a golf cart that flipped over, causing him to fly out of it, and then the cart crash landed on his face. Two men had to lift it off of him, and then they rushed him to the nearest hospital. Current situation: His fractured jaw, nose, and orbitals are slowly healing. The swelling is going down, the midnight black eyes are fading to light black, and his nose is settling back into the middle of his face where it belongs. The pain is becoming bearable.

Deep breath. Sigh. He’s alive.

I went back to work after three days of caring for him, and then only because my mother, a recently retired nurse, came to stay with us to help out. She took him to his follow-up doctor appointment at the hospital clinic, made an appointment with a dental/face specialist, and called my insurance company, pretending to be me, to inquire about coverage.

Thank God for mothers.

At work, I was barely able to function, so utterly worn-out I felt from setting my alarm round the clock to give him his meds, and from worry. Therefore, I hardly paid attention when one of my co-workers pulled me aside and told me she wanted to sage the office. We have a brand new colleague who had pointed out to her that, in the short two weeks since she’d arrived on the scene, one co-worker had lost a close relative, another’s mother and sister were hospitalized within days of each other, and now my son. The new co-worker feared she was cursed, as a similar series of unfortunate events had occurred when she had just started her previous job.

“That has nothing to do with it,” I told my co-worker. “She wasn’t here last year when all the bad stuff happened.” This in reference to my husband and mother-in-law, a co-worker’s dad passing, and another’s grandmother passing – all this over a four week period.

“It’s those masks,” my co-worker said. “I think they’re evil. I get the creeps every time I walk into her office.”

Our new co-worker has been to 35 countries, which I’m quite impressed by, and her office is filled with unique items from her travels. I think the masks are from Africa, but I can’t remember for sure.

“The masks aren’t evil,” I said.

She appeared doubtful. “I want to sage anyway.”

“Won’t the sprinklers go off if there’s smoke?”

She shrugged, leaving me to wonder if I was living in an alternate reality, one where evil curses and masks exist.

Superstitions aside, this past week has made me pause and see how much I have to be thankful for.

I am very thankful for my job, which provides my family with excellent health insurance coverage. God knows we’ve needed it over the past year.

I am thankful for my boss, who understands that family comes first. In a situation like this, she doesn’t hesitate to show her support and reassure me that I can take as much time as I need.

I am thankful for my mother, and especially for her recent retirement. Not only was she a huge help during this crisis, she was recently able to help out my brother and sister-in-law for almost two weeks after the birth of their second child.

What I am most thankful for is that my son is alive. He’s not in a vegetative state, and he appears to be healing.

It can be difficult to see the blessings in the midst of crisis and hardship, but if you look hard enough, they are there, in abundance.

Still, to be on the safe side, I plan to sage my house this week.

I leave you with this throwback video of Stevie Wonder playing Superstition, the song that was playing through my mind as I wrote this. I dare you not to dance!

Overcoming Negativity

The other day I was seized by a bout of negativity so strong I nearly came undone. It was triggered by an acquaintance’s blog post. In it she expressed how exhausted she was from waking at 5:00 a.m. each morning to train for a triathlon, and then chasing her children around the rest of the day.

If there had been a dislike button after her post, I would have hit it.

It was not quite 7:00 a.m. when I read it. I’d already meditated and did some yoga, for all the good it did me, and was preparing for yet another grueling day at work. We’re in the middle of our busiest time of year, a six-week summer program for incoming undergraduate freshmen, and it’s intense. I’m talking 10 to 12 hour days, weekly one-on-one meetings with 30 students, countless workshops, programs, planning, meetings, putting out fires, and being on call for the residential staff 24/7.

As a result, I rarely see my kids, my house is a mess, and my husband and I are like strangers passing in the night. I’ve gotten into the habit of crying some days on my way to work. I had to give up wine, for God’s sake, for the six weeks because I need to be at the top of my game and it weakens my resolve.

But never mind all that. I mean, this poor woman was so exhausted from training and her children that she had to feign energy throughout the day while she took them on playdates, to the beach, and to the local pool. This poor woman whose husband, rumor has it, earns well over six figures. Who lives in a gorgeous McMansion. Who has a housekeeper and nanny. Who gets to spend a good portion of her time doing what she loves — working out, training, writing, being with her kids — because she, unlike me, doesn’t have to worry about making money or cleaning toilets.

To say that I felt angry, bitter, and jealous when I read her post would be a gross understatement. It is a side of myself that I’m not fond of, that I strive to overcome. But there it was, out in full force, and my day had hardly begun.

I thought of other stay-at-home moms I knew whose husbands’ incomes allowed for a similar lifestyle and I wanted to post on Facebook, If I hear one more well-to-do stay-at-home mother whine about how hard her life is I’m going to scream! How about doing everything you do, plus holding down a full-time job and doing all the house cleaning with little to no time to yourself? And BTW, if you can’t refrain from whining in your current circumstances, you’ll probably never be content.

Of course I didn’t post that. It’s only on my blog that I rant, because hardly any of my Facebook friends read it, thank God. Luckily, I was able to calm myself down by taking a few deep breaths and talking some sense into my negative mind.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who is jealous of other people’s lives. My life might not be exactly as I want it to be, but I have so much to be grateful for.

Yes, my job needs to change, and soon. Six years of summer programs is enough for anyone. I want and need more work/life balance. In the meantime, my students are really terrific and I know I make a positive difference in their lives.

I am healthy. I have healthy children. I have a pretty, albeit messy and somewhat outdated, home, but it’s mine and I love it.

I wouldn’t want any husband except my own, not for all the money in the world.

I don’t have a nanny, but my youngest son alternates weekdays in summer between my in-laws’ and my mother’s homes. They love to have him over.

Both of my parents are alive. The woman whose blog post triggered my downward spiral lost one of her parents at a young age. I can’t even imagine how much that must have hurt, and the impact it must still have on her life.

No one’s life is perfect, no matter how it might seem on the outside looking in. And if it is perfect, good for them! We should all be so fortunate. We should all wish each other and ourselves to be happy, healthy, safe, and prosper, and to know peace, joy, and love in our hearts and in our lives.

My negative reaction to this woman’s blog post had nothing to do with her life and everything to do with me and how I was feeling inside – exhausted, in desperate need of vigorous exercise, guilty for not being home more for my children. Thankfully, I was able to recognize this and make a conscious shift from being an angry, snarky bitch to moving one step closer to the woman I want to be.