the balance

I go through periods where I feel like I’ve got it together…my family is healthy, pets aren’t dying, work is going well, things just generally feel “right”…and then I go through periods where I feel like I’m barely holding on. I think this happened before we had kids, but it seems more pronounced in the “AK” years (after kids). If I’d started this post three hours ago it would be full of swear words but I’ve since had some alcohol and the kids have been asleep for a couple of hours so I’m a bit calmer. Plus I’m blessed to be married to a very calming man.

My family is healthy, our remaining pet is not dying, and work is going well, but I still feel like I’m barely holding on, so there is more to it than that. I feel like I haven’t had much time for me lately. Which is odd because the majority of the last seven days I’ve only had one child to take care of. But this has been brewing for a few weeks. Elliot’s recent emotional state at daycare has been hard on me — it’s got me to thinking about his personality in general, and I worry that he’s going to have a tough road ahead of him. I think his sensitivity leads to his volatility, and it can be hard to be on the receiving end of it. And I’m sure it’s tough on him too.

When I titled this post “the balance” I was thinking about the balance between finding time to spend with my family and finding time for just me, but I realize it’s also about finding a balance with Elliot. Knowing when to push him past his comfort level and when to just let him be. Knowing when to walk away from him when he’s hitting or screaming and when to fold him up in my arms and just hold him tight. Continually wondering what the “right” thing to do is, to get him past whatever hump is in his way.

I recently had a conversation with my sister and she acknowledged (after saying how much she loved Elliot) that she has always thought that Greg and I haven’t had the easiest time of it, raising our son. I have never thought of him as difficult and would never want to put that label on him, but I was surprised at how validated I felt. He has always slept well, ate well, developed normally, etc., and I never really thought about the emotional aspect of raising him. But while I felt validated, I also felt a bit thrown off, like I was on unstable footing, and I’m still feeling that. He’s still the same kid, but I find myself looking at him differently, and looking at my parenting differently. And I don’t like it. I don’t think this is happening in the moment when I’m with him, but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting when I’m not with him, and that’s when these feelings come up.

And perhaps that why I feel like I haven’t had much time for me — I’ve been investing so much time thinking about Elliot. I don’t blame my sister for making me feel this way. I would have got there on my own, as I watch my daughter grow and continue to take life very much in stride, laughing almost all the way. It’s such a stark contrast to her brother. And it makes me worry about him.

pants!

It’s been a slow, painful decline over the past few months, and now Elliot’s down to two pairs of pants and four t-shirts that he’s willing to wear. Thankfully the t-shirts are somewhat presentable, because Pair of Pants “A” are a size three pair of grey sweats with cuffs that are too short and knees you can see through, and Pair of Pants “B” are a blue pair of sweats that are baggy and very clown-like. I can understand his aversion to jeans, but he’s got other pants that aren’t jeans that he refuses to wear. And when I say refuse, I mean all out screaming refuse. I just don’t go there any more…I do laundry instead and make sure Pants A and B are clean.

As for t-shirts, again I don’t understand it. Especially because many of the t-shirts he refuses to wear he wore quite happily two months ago. I realize part of a preschooler’s makeup is to try to exert some control, but I ran out of patience on this one about three weeks ago.

So. On to the point of my post. I thought a workable solution would be to find some more sweat pants for him. But can I find any in this city? NO. And don’t tell me it’s the wrong time of year because I HAVE found fleece pants. And yes, he’ll wear those, but it’s a bit hot for them right now. I’ve been to several different places, including consignment stores, and have come up empty-handed.

So if anyone sees a size four pair of sweat pants in their travels, BUY THEM. PLEASE.

As an aside, Amy also refuses to wear jeans, but it’s not an issue. Why? Because of cotton leggings. They are everywhere, they are cute, and they are comfortable. Thank God. One is all I can handle.

my reinitiation to thetis lake

Yesterday I went for a run at Thetis Lake — my first visit there since before Yoshi died. This was my favourite place to take Yosh, and we logged a lot of hours there. I had been dreading going, and I wasn’t going to go until I was good and ready.

I didn’t go alone. We are taking care of Digger for a couple of weeks, and I took him and a small part of Yoshi. Before Yoshi died Greg expressed his wish to have his ashes returned to us. I am not sure I would have done this had I been on my own, but I didn’t have any strong objections, so I agreed. A couple of weeks after he died we got the ashes back from the vet. In an urn, of all things. We promptly put them in the basement in a closet as we were not ready to deal with them. But we did talk about some of the things we wanted to do with them, and one of the things I wanted was to bring some out to Thetis.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this — I didn’t really want to go alone, yet I didn’t want to go with anyone. Any humans, that is. But as I was falling asleep one night earlier this week, I suddenly thought: Digger. He’d be perfect company.

So off we went, Digger running ahead of me and a small bag of Yoshi’s ashes in my hand. I knew exactly where I was going to leave the ashes. On Trillium trail there is a rock outcrop that Yoshi loved to jump off (and Digger too). I planned to throw some in the lake and leave some on the shoreline. I did most of my run before getting to this spot, and it was a good run. I didn’t think about Yoshi much, I just enjoyed the run and Digger’s company. Although a couple of times I let myself imagine that I was running with both dogs, and Yoshi was off running in the bush, as he often did.

When we got to the spot, I threw a few ashes in the lake and then got distracted as Digger went crazy looking for a stick. I helped him find one, smiling to myself at the interruption, and then grabbed another handful, threw them in the lake along with the stick and whispered to Digger to go in and join him. And he did. He jumped right in the middle of the ashes, and went for one more swim with his buddy. I put a few more on the shoreline and then I just stood there for a few minutes. I told Yoshi I loved and missed him, and then continued on my run. It was then I discovered you can’t run and cry at the same time, so I walked for a bit and had a good cry.

I had a few more ashes left and I was just going to bring them back to the house, but then I saw one of the side trails that Yoshi loved to go on, so I sprinkled some at the entrance and just stood there imagining him running through the bush. I could almost hear him. I collected myself and then finished my run with Digger.

It was exactly what I wanted to do, without really realizing that until I was done. It seemed fitting to have Digger with me, and now that I’m through the hurdle of the “first time back”, it will be easier to go again.

Thank you Digger — you were my rock.

maybe i’ll sic fiesty little Amy on him…

So further to my last post about Elliot not being himself…earlier this week Elliot was colouring with Greg and revealed that Jacob, his daycare buddy, had told him that he didn’t want to be Elliot’s friend any more. Greg commiserated with him, but didn’t delve into any details. We’re not clear on when this happened, but it might explain some of the angst he’s been going through.

I felt bad for him, but I remember being a kid and I know this crap happens — it happened to me, I probably did it to others, and it sucks. Although I have to admit that I was a bit surprised it came from a four-year-old, and a boy no less. I thought boys were nicer than girls.

Greg talked to Elliot a bit more about it during bedtime, and we left it at that. We were both glad that he was able to talk to us about it.

Then yesterday after spending the day with me, the kids and I headed up to daycare for their annual Canada Day BBQ. As we were leaving, we walked by one of the play areas where Jacob was playing on his own. Elliot yelled out a cheerful “Hi Jacob!”. Jacob said something that I couldn’t quite catch, and Elliot turned to me and said: “Did you hear that Mum? He said he isn’t my friend anymore.” As soon as Elliot repeated the words I realized it was what Jacob had said. And I wanted to drop-kick the kid. Instead I said to Elliot that that wasn’t very nice. Elliot barely skipped a beat before he saw someone else and said “But Nate’s my friend”, which made me feel a bit better.

But it has left me wondering what happened. Sure, kids can be like this, but I was surprised that it was lasting more than a day. And again I’m wondering how much to talk to Elliot about it. My gut says to not dwell on it, and so far I’m going with my gut. Certainly if he brings it up again we can talk about it, or if he seems sad I might mention it. The other thing is whether to talk to his teachers about it. I don’t want to be the kind of parent who fights her kids’ battles for them, but it’s not that I would want them to do anything. It’s more that it might shed some light on what happened between them if I talked to them. I’m curious if Elliot actually did something to Jacob, or if this is just coming out of the blue. And I have to admit to feeling very protective of Elliot right now, and I really hope he’s not hearing this from Jacob every day. Because that would really suck.

Just feeling a bit out of my league here…except I know the most important thing is that Elliot knows Greg and I love him. No matter what.