Boiled eggs and Behavioral Psych 101
I’ve had kind of a tough morning.
L was sick yesterday. I knew because my kid, who, unlike other dear lovely children, would rather sit on my head or jump on the bed than nestle next to me in the mornings and fall back asleep (curses) declared yesterday morning that he would rather “snuggle and read books” than go to the playground. Bam: fever, lethargy, 3+ hour nap, and asleep again by 7:30 last night. We had sort of a lovely day; lots of book-reading and snuggling, an hour watching a video about trucks, a brief period in the sandbox in an Advil-induced better moment. He slept through the night, and woke up ravenous: he ate two whole pieces of toast plus a boiled egg. He even started to eat the toast crusts, which is an indicator that he’s really hungry. So, then the decision needed to be made: was he better? Could he go to daycare?
In the meantime, we’re trying to get packed for a trip to Tahoe this weekend. We all overslept; I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you we oversleep every morning, lately, but still. Unshowered, I was bustling around trying to get breakfast for everyone as B was frantically throwing last-minute things in a bag so he could get to work on time, as L was demanding to be held/more toast. It got late and B really needed to go but I also needed him to help me pack the car since I have a cracked rib and carrying heavy boxes is not advised. So B was a little impatiently trying to pack the car as I was badgering him with questions about whether or not we should do daycare (B voted yes) and L was still demanding more toast and I started to feel like a scene in a movie where the clock starts ticking louder and louder and the phone rings and the baby starts crying and it comes to a fever pitch and AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
But, see, I’m fairly used to this. I have been anxious since I was a little kid, and every time I go away for the weekend or do something more than slightly out of routine I get a little wound up. I start anxiously asking too many questions, and my brain is like a yoyo going boing boing boing. Last night I was already fretting about whether everything would fit in the car and whether, if there IS any snow, I would make the cracked rib worse if I fell while skiing, and whether we would need chains for the road, and whether L would be up to going–and when I woke up and L was better, there was this very simple decision to be made about daycare.
Simple decision? You’d think I was agonizing over where to go to college.
When I was pregnant with L, I had to decide whether or not to do some basic prenatal testing. A wise friend said to me, “Just make a decision. It’s going to be one in a long line of decisions you make about your kid, and at some point you just have to decide something and not look back.” Excellent point, I thought, and in the moment she said it I could see this future of mine as a non-anxious, in-control, self-actualized sort of mom who made confident decisions and didn’t worry that they were wrong. Three years later I’m not fooling anybody. Eventually I decided he would go to daycare, but I worried about it all through getting us quickly dressed and out the door (what if he got the other kids sick? What if he needed to just stay home and be held all day, sweet love? What if what if what if?). I thought maybe I’d ride him on my bike instead of driving; part-way there he said he was cold and I nearly turned around. There was this other voice reminding me to put on a good face for him, because if he caught wind of my apprehension daycare was going to be a lot more difficult today, plus I wanted to seem confident with R, the daycare provider, so she wouldn’t know how borderline the situation really was (100-degree fever). AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Then this little voice said to me: drop him off. Go get a cup of coffee and mull things over a while. If you need to go get him in an hour, you can.
And here I am, mulling.
It is hard to be this person. I trivialize it, I joke about it, but the truth is, it sometimes really sucks to be so tethered to worry. I would think after 30 years of this…illness I’d have some basic tools to cope with mornings like this, but I don’t. I’m reading this book right now, a young adult novel B loved as a kid, called The Bronze Bow. And Jesus is a character in this book, and he heals people who want to be healed. In the chapter I read last night the main character is talking about how Jesus can’t heal people who “don’t want to be healed.” I’m not sure where this is going to go, in the book (and no, I have not found Jesus) but the question resonated. I have many times wondered (and I know my husband has wondered) if I can’t somehow just deal with this anxiety problem of mine and be done with it, or whether anxiety has traveled with me for so long–like an abusive, dysfunctional friend–that we’re inseparable. Like maybe I don’t even want to let her go.
This got sort of heavy, didn’t it? The truth is, I feel much better for having written it down.