One week, two ways

The past week (or 10 days) has been complex. I’d be inclined to call it a rollercoaster, because there have been distinctly good things and distinctly bad things, but I think I’d rather think of it as two different perspectives, coexisting.

The first perspective: painful.

(TW: Robb Elementary)

The beginning, I think, was Bob and Henry both having COVID. They were in isolation for 5 days, during which time Eleanor, Grant, and I tested ourselves daily. Grant desperately wanted to be in isolation with them, playing video games and not going to school. When he couldn’t, his behavior suffered for it. He got two very poor reports in two days, which always riddle me with guilt and anxiety. “If I were a better mom,” I think, and then imagine some ill-defined wishful state of bliss. That weekend, on Saturday, Grant kept taking himself down the block to the community college (JCC), to see the mural being painted there. I kept going down to retrieve him, much to his deep resentment. He began to plot. On Sunday, early, he got up and left the house without us knowing (because we were sleeping), and went to the nearby park to play. For an hour. Alone. So we woke up to the cops bringing Grant home, I hope for the last time in his life. We also got a visit from Child Protective Services, which felt a lot like confirmation of my belief that I am not a particularly good parent. I spent the day feeling emotionally run over. What is the point, after all, if the most important thing you need to do, you fail at?

Our week started up again, and I took some time out of my Monday to go to sign Henry up for some counseling for anxiety – something that I feel I haven’t been working hard enough to get him. On Tuesday, we found out about the massacre at Robb elementary. It makes me feel so helpless, when so many people actively choose to endorse these mass shootings of children while saying they deplore them. That they make absolutely positively sure that white boys and men will be able to continue to send rounds and rounds of bullets through the tiny, unprotected bodies of children, by making sure guns are easy to get. Ban them all, I say. Fuck any other option, god damn. On Wednesday, I woke up with searing throat pain. Our schools had a lockout, because of a social media threat. I was too muddled and tired to make dinner, and went to bed early with a lot of pressure in my head.

Today, Thursday, my cold moved from my throat (mostly) into my face, and Grant hid from us before school in the bathtub. Little things piling up, much like the laundry that seems to be an insurmountable obstacle at this point.

The second perspective: nourishing.

I think that while things have been undeniably hard this week, it’s not useful to dwell on the things I can’t change. I can work on not repeating mistakes, or donate, or any number of other things, which typically take a long arc to show results. But at least it is hopeful activity.

So let’s look at the same timespan, again, focusing on the things that did go well.

As it turned out, none of Ele, Grant, nor I got COVID! I’m grateful for our health, and glad that the vaccine helped us pinpoint Bob’s infection before all of us got sick. Also, Bob and Henry were largely fine during their isolation – Bob had a fever for a day or two, and Henry had some ear pain, but both cleared up quickly. They were able to spend time together bonding over video games and TV.

Eleanor, Grant, and I spent time together, just the three of us. Whenever you remove or add a kid to your mix, the whole dynamic changes, and it’s always interesting to see how their relationships flex and grow. Through no particular event, I feel really close to Eleanor right now. She’s complicated and fun, smart and irreverent. We’re vibing.

The boys recovered in time to go to opening night of Eleanor’s show. For months now she’s been going to theatre workshop on Wednesdays, preparing for a play – the Granny Awards. Eleanor was granny! She was so, so good. I am obviously very biased, but she was undeniably great.

Bob’s dad’s birthday party was on Saturday at their house. The kids love going to nana and papa’s, and the day was gorgeous. I got a massage Saturday morning, the deep tissue kind, and wow, was it great. She even got my jaw unclenched! So it was a very relaxing day for the most part, and afterwards, my sister-in-law, my niece, and my mother-in-law came to Eleanor’s show with me. It was just as great on closing night as it was on opening night! Pure joy. Seeing Eleanor so much in her element was SO much fun for me (and for Bob, I feel confident saying). She was explaining to us about how she thought about how Granny would dance in some of the ensemble scenes, since she is elderly and carries a cane. She put a lot of thought into how Granny would behave and move – it’s really interesting to hear her talk about it.

On Sunday, we got the house cleaned up (sans the laundry problem). Grant and I spent some extra time cuddling.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading Search Inside Yourself; the Talent Analytics team at work is doing a bookclub on it with the wider Data organization (that I am not part of, but I am nosy) this month, so I joined that as an excuse to get reading. It’s been really interesting and gratifying to read. It’s a little bit validating, and a whole lot informative. I’ve been trying to practice drawing my attention to the moment, relishing the times my attention wanders because it’s additional practice, strengthening the ability. I’ve also set myself a little goal of meditating 3 times a week, alongside the aforementioned awareness and curiosity of the now. It’s been soothing, and although my skill here can be described as rudimentary only by the most generous of people, it truly couldn’t have come at a better time.

Also, I was accepted into an executive coaching program, called the Art of Accomplishment Master Class. I’m in the executive cohort, which promises to be intensive and instructive. It’s one of those situations where you will get growth out of it, if you put the effort in, and I’m here and ready. It’s humbling to be one of the twelve per year accepted, and I’m awed that Automattic is willing to make this sort of investment (they are paying for it all).

Speaking of work, it is going really well. I mean, you know, it’s a daily untangling and nudging and so on, but I love it. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. I love puzzles, and we’re solving a big one. I get to work with super interesting and smart people (as true today as it was 9.5 years ago), and work on this totally different product (Tumblr), which is the coolest and most loving place on the internet. It combines many of my loves – art, shitposting, swears, creativity, and currently, Dracula Daily. In my work, I feel trusted and confident, which is an amazing space to occupy. Of course I make mistakes, but it’s such a rich learning environment. I’m trying to soak it all up and attend all the meetings.

Grant turned his behavior around the past few days. He’s definitely trying hard. We got a sticker chart, and he loves earning stars and putting them up by his name. He’s been sticking close to me, and not going outside without telling one of us. Our child protective services caseworker called me on Monday, and she indicated that she thinks we’re probably good parents. She also offered to help get Grant into counseling with the county (for a possible defiance disorder), which I gratefully jumped at. Today Grant’s class is walking to the local ice cream place (Hi-Ho) for a special treat. He’s been so excited for it all week!

Henry and Eleanor went on a field trip to the state park yesterday, and so weren’t at school for the lockout, which feels like a mercy. They also had a great time, and weren’t aware of the lockout at all. I spent a few hours with the county counselor at the high school on Monday, getting Henry signed up for his own counseling, and I’m glad we have these resources available. She can meet Henry over the summer, so he can be even better prepared for 5th grade in the fall. I had a good conversation with her, and feel confident that she’ll be able to help Henry.

On Wednesday, I was able to go back to bed and have a very slow morning without feeling like anything was going to fall apart. I also do not have COVID. I ended up not feeling badly enough to take a full day off, but also kind of fuzzy, so I just kept things fairly simple. After work time, Eleanor stepped up and got dinner ready for herself and her brothers (Grant ate a lunchable, so I ended up eating his dinner). She did an excellent job cooking mac and cheese and frozen green beans (steamables). She’s never done a full meal start-to-finish, including plating, but she’s done all the elements separately. My lil sous chef is ready to be an executive chef! I’m really looking forward to cooking with her more.

Today I feel better than yesterday, and my throat hurts far less. Henry got himself ready this morning, and everyone (eventually) went off to school happy. I had a slow morning (not as slow as yesterday), and have checked some things off my list at work. The kids are healthy, I am healthy (minus a cold), and Bob is healthy. So it’ll all be ok; who could ask for more?

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