Monday, February 22, 2016

Back from the end of my rope

Last week was school vacation week here in New England.  It couldn't have come at a worse time.  Janey had been in a mood for a few days when it started.  She was on edge, screaming much of the time, not happy at all.  Then, the first weekend of vacation, it got extremely cold, the coldest it's been in Boston since 1957.  It wasn't the kind of weather we could get Janey outside in.  She was displeased.  She spent a few days switching hysterically from one video to another, screaming when we didn't immediately understand her, biting her arm and generally being very, very unhappy.

I had planned for quite a while to get away for a few days during the vacation week.  Tony had taken the week off work, as it's been a traditionally very hard week for years.  I was planning to go up to Maine and visit my parents on Wednesday, and then Friday have a long-awaited special treat getaway weekend at an inn as a early birthday gift from a dear friend (thank you, Julie!)  I was (and am) looking down the barrel of, let's just say, a milestone birthday, which would have been stressing me without any tough Janey times.  And I kept thinking---I can't go.  I can't leave Janey here with Tony alone.  But on the other hand, I kept thinking---I have to go.  I NEED to go.  I felt at the end of my rope, hanging on by a single thread.  Each time Janey screamed, I tensed and felt waves of stress and despair wash over me.  I felt like I couldn't take one more second.  But I kept telling myself "I can't go.  I can't leave Tony to deal with this"  Tony, who I will right now nominate for husband and father of the year, kept telling me I should go, that he would be okay, that he'd manage somehow.  It's hard to even explain my state of mind as I tried to decide.  It wasn't sane.  But finally, after getting Tony to promise that if it was too hard, he'd call and I'd come back, I did go.

And Janey was fine.  Not perfect, but fine.  She often seems to do a little better when it's just one of us with her, because all the attention is focused on her, we think.  Tony took her for lots of rides, changed her videos as demanded, and slept when she slept.
Janey views the sunrise

It took me a little while to calm down once I left.  I took a bus to Portland to meet my parents, and the bus ride helped.  I sat and decompressed, and played word games.  By the time I reached their house, I was much, much better, and by the next day, I felt great (although I woke with a horrible headache, probably from all the days of stress)  It was great to have a few days with my parents, and then a few days at an amazing inn with my friend and her fiancee.

Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Tony and Janey came up to the inn on Saturday night.  Tony got a chance to relax hanging out with the friends, and I took care of Janey, and by the time she got there, I was looking forward to seeing her very much.  I felt able to cope again, to think of ways to keep her distracted and happy.  We had several showers in the room's huge shower, baths in the big bathtub, we walked to the empty beach at sunrise, we spent time at the bonfire outside in the evening.  We had fun, because I was able to relax enough to have fun with her.

I learned a lesson, one I've tried to learn before, but I think this time it really will stick.  Sometimes, I really do need to take care of myself to be able to care for Janey.  I don't need to be a martyr to care for Janey, to love her.  We don't have a lot of respite, but Tony and I can switch off at times and allow the other party to get a breath.  And Janey will manage.  The toughest times don't last forever.  They come and go.  And I am much better able to to be a creative, patient mother if I am not at the edge of the cliff.

Now, to face tomorrow's birthday and the start of being AARP eligible.....

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