Monday, October 31, 2011

Longing for simplicity again...

Jud and I were talking the other day about how difficult life is lately.    He said something like he just wishes something in our life was easy.    I laughed and said something snarky about how no one's life with 5 kids can be easy, let alone all of the other crap going on in our lives...

Really though,  I do understand his point,  up until a little over a year ago our lives did always feel easy.   Not that we didn't have stress, or worries, or chaos in our lives but it was always manageable because it was never everything all at once.   We were both full and happy and energetic and able to take care of one another, fill in each others rough spots, pick up each other's slack so to speak.   These days, I think one of the reasons life feels so much more difficult is because we are both feeling a lot of stress and are exhausted from being pulled in a million different directions.    We both need support from one another like we've never needed before, but for the first time honestly in our entire marriage it's been a struggle to hold each other up.

Now, I'm not saying we are unhappy or our marriage is in trouble,  I'm simply saying that we are real people.   Our life is not always perfect.  Although under normal circumstances it's pretty damn close:)   We are both working really hard.  We are a team, but life is hard right now...and we are both longing for simplicity again.

So what's so stressful you ask?

Well, for one Jud has had some major changes at work, which in the long run will be great,  but for right  now it means lots more work/stress and even more time.  Leaving early, getting home late, working at home once the kids are asleep, traveling.   Even when he's not working he is always thinking about not just his ( and our family's) future but also for every employee that he over sees.   It's a huge weight to carry, and it's taking a toll on him.  Every minute of every day is packed with work or family, there's no time for himself.   He doesn't have nights out with  friends or even time for a run or a bike ride, which is normally a great stress relief for him.  And I have not been as understanding or supportive as I have been in the past.  Not that I could carry the burden for him, but I used to be so much better about listening, asking questions, understanding what he needs, taking care of him, even if it just means insisting he take time to go for a run outside rather than just a run to the grocery store to pick up the milk that I forgot to get.

I haven't been there for him because my plate is overflowing too.  I'm making progress with understanding myself and my ADD but it has not been easy.   I've had to rethink and relearn everything about myself and who I am. Who I've always been.   Why I say or do the things I do.  Why I feel the way I do.  Why I can't let things go.  I wish my mom were hear to talk to about all these things, because the more I find myself, the more I feel like her.   There was a connection there.  I wish I had realized that sooner.    I'm getting closer to accepting her death, but of course that's not easy either.   Meeting my dad's new"friend" has of course complicated the grieving process more than just a little bit and has brought up a lot of feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal and sadness...and guilt.

still with me?

because that's just the stuff going on in my head, then of course we have all the real life stuff too... not just the soccer schedules or the piano lessons or the what do I make for dinner or how much do I still hate doing homework,  but big heavy real life stuff.

For instance, Caroline is really growing up.  My sweet little girl, who used to have wonderful, open, heart to heart conversations with me, has been replaced with a moody, eye rolling, adolescent girl, who is struggling to find her independence.  It hurts my heart to see her growing up and to feel her pushing me away.   She's having a tough time these days but doesn't want my help.   I never imagined watching her grow up would be this hard.   Again, I wish my mom were here so I could apologize for all those years when I was such a little shit to her....I'm sure she's up there somewhere smiling down and nodding her head...she always said it'd come back to me:)

Sam has also been having a rough start to the school year, which means meetings and emails with the teacher and principal and conversations with our pediatrician and lots and lots of reading and research.  Staying on top of all of those issues are a big stress on me too...remember I have ADD?   Following through with important details is a huge struggle.

Then there's Emma, my dear sweet Emma.   She's been on quite an emotional roller coaster herself lately.   She is really starting to feel real feelings...She has always been very guarded emotionally.   Lately she's had lots of questions about Ethiopia and her birth family,  her birth mom in particular.   She's trying to sort out the truth of her story.  She obviously doesn't have any memories about her early life in Ethiopia,  however we've always talked about it, about her Ethiopian Mommy...about her history.    We've always answered any questions she's had as honestly as we could, with the information we have, but we also had to keep in mind what she was emotionally ready to hear.  I guess in hind sight this allowed room for her to add in her own details which she started to see as real.   Details that she has only recently started to share.  Emma had created a sort of fantasy life story.    We've recently had several REALLY honest conversations about what is real and what is not.   I think part of this has to do with her age, she's getting to understand much more, but also I really think  a big part has to do with the loss of my mom.   Emma saw me open up and allow myself to be sad and cry uncontrollably, she saw me being vulnerable and angry and upset.   She saw that I started to question things that I had always known... I think it opened up the door for her to finally realize and feel and grieve the loss of her own mother.   It is sweet and heart felt and in many ways beautiful  to witness but at the same time unbelievably heart breaking...Every night she sleeps with a photo of the most beautiful woman whom she has no memory of...but still, it gives her comfort.

again, I never imagined her growing up would be so hard...

still there?   You may want to go pour yourself a cup of coffee, or better yet a glass of wine because here's where life gets really interesting.

So Then...and this is absolutely the biggest stress these days...for me anyway.   Let me tell you this has caused many a sleepless nights in this house.

We are in a fight with our school.   The school that we love.  The school that we moved here for.   The school where we Love our teachers.

It turns out this year a new policy was put into place in which students were to be allocated to certain classes according to race.

mmmmhmmm you read that right.

separate students into classes by race.

You all get why I'm pissed right?   Because I don't know if many parents at our school do... But then again, most parents in our school don't have minority children.

The fact that a policy like this, (which is illegal let alone morally wrong)  was allowed to be implemented in our school, which is considered to be one of the best schools in the area,  without the support or even the knowledge of parents has me wondering if we moved to right place after all.   Who the heck is in charge here?   Who let this happen?   How can I ever trust that they are looking out for my white children and my black children?

I've talked to the principal.   I've attended school board meetings...I've actually called every single school board member personally at home.  I've had meetings with the superintendent.   And every time I get off the phone or I leave a meeting I feel like banging my head against the wall.   They just don't get it.

It is beyond frustrating.

Which has led Jud and I to have several serious conversations about if in fact this is where we want to raise our family.   No, of course I don't want to move again...I hate that we've moved as much as we have.  I want our kids to feel grounded in a community.   Build lasting friendships.  But this?  Really?  I don't know if we can deal with this...

problem is...we live in Milwaukee which in general is a particularly segregated area.    This is where Jud's job is.   This is where we have to live.   We could move again to another area around the city, but which one?   We've already tried 4 different ones and none of them fit either!    Is this just what our life is  always going to be like?   Will we really always have to fight to have all of our children treated fairly even for the most basic of things, like a good education, no matter where we live?

Let's just say current plans for the expansion on this house are on hold.


Calmil2 said...

Oh wow, I thought you were talking about my life until the last part about, um, discrimination....UGH....sorry :(

Anonymous said...

Jess... what a heavy load for you guys! I am sorry it all seems to be simmering to a boil at once; you are all in my thoughts and prayers, and especially in my heart. Hang in there... I am so confident that you will reap in joy.
love, Dave

KMS said...

You are carrying a lot right now. Life is just so incredibly busy and can wear you down. Hopefully, you will be able to find some time to connect over the holiday break.

I am also impressed with the battle you are waging. I would love to talk more and to give clear research-based resources that support your work. Thank you for fighting this fight.


NicoleGiese said...

I cannot believe that about the kids school! I am in shock that this is happening on such a blatant level and no one sees anything wrong with it! I am always thinking of you guys.

los cazadores said...

Come to DC. :) It's not all roses anywhere, not even here. But we're all doing the best we can. Hang in there. So sorr you are feeling overloaded and stressed. Royce has quite a bit of stress at work too, I listen but it's hard to know how to support that when he's stuck for the immediate.

Sending you some clarity, peace and destress juju.