No matter how routine life gets, adoption has some special spikes in the road that are as predictable as they are surprising. I doubt I’ll ever be fully ready, but I’m getting better at it.
All was calm, almost peaceful aside from the hectic pace of school, work, life. Kindergarten and 4th Grade rumbling along in that blur-out-the-window way. Spring Break is almost on us, and I’m not really used to the fact that it’s 2017.
Perhaps I’ve been pushing myself too hard, or maybe it’s just the germs, which are making their way around and first struck Jaden last week, and got me this week. Fever, snozzly nose, and a bone-tired La Dame aux Camélias desire to drape myself over beds and couches, moan, groan, and sleep. I feel like crap.
I’ve never been accused of being an easy patient, though with kids the fact that no one cares if you’re sick can propel me through sometimes. Everyone still needs to eat and get dressed and get where they’re going. I tried to push for a few days, but not this time. Finally, I had to take to my sick bed.
From which I dragged myself to pick up Shayla from a playdate with neighbors. She’d gone with our friend for a girls’ day getting nails done and having lunch, and was in a great mood. Until I told her I was just too sick to take her to a planned event tonight at the YMCA.
Every year the Berkeley Y has a gay family night, I think it was the first in the nation, and it’s really fun. So I knew she’d be dissapointed, but I wasn’t ready for the eruption that followed, the fury. WHY would I ruin her night like this, it was ALL MY FAULT and made worse by the fact that I HADN’T EVEN READ TO HER FOR 2 NIGHTS! All I had to do was take her, WHY wouldn’t I just take her?
Sometimes when the kids yell at me I get sucked in, yell back, but I was sick and tired enough not to have the energy. “I know, I’m so dissapointed and mad at this dumb cold! It would have been so fun if we could have gone.” Sometimes this works, but not this time. What followed was an hour-long cycle: yelling, crying, pleading, moping, a little lull, then starting all over again.
I’ve written about how Shayla really doesn’t like surprises, no doubt because the biggest, worst surprise was when she got picked up from school by a social worker and taken away from her mom. So I felt for her. No one likes to miss the big party, and when you’ve had big unpleasant shocks it’s more tramatic. Everything is tied together.
And “sick” is a loaded term in our lives. We’ve talked to Shayla more about her what addiction is, and the story of what happened with her mom, but it’s also true that for several years “your mom is too sick to see you or take care of you” was the way we put it. I think it was essentially a true way to lay it out for a 5 and 6 year old, but it also probably put a terrifying spin on sickness, which sometimes is just a cold. Every time I’m sick enough to have to take it easy I explain that I’m just sick with a cold sick, that it’s not like her mom who couldn’t take care of her for a long time. But once she’s triggered there’s not much to do. Or really the only thing to do is to go with it, to validate or sympathize or ask questions or suggest connections, or push a bit, all of which enrages her further, but hopefully also helps pop the blister and lets her sort something out for herself.
Being really sick also puts me into a sort of alternate reality. It seems impossible that I’ll ever be able to go back to normal life, and while I know this isn’t true, the terror of losing the ability to do basic things overwhelms me. Who will take care of my kids? How will I cope? I’m sure it’s nothing like the difficulty and pain the kids’ mom went through, but maybe it’s a small window. How devastating not to be able to take care of a child.
So we managed pizza and movie night, and everyone settled down. They love Annie (orphans! dead parents and orphans make just about every kid movie go… but I’m too tired to get into that right now). Shayla had a sore throat from hollering but hasn’t, luckily, gotten the cold. She went, peacefully, to sleep, all the drama spent. With any luck another day or two and I, too, will be back to life.
And I hope I will be so darned grateful to feel well.