Ah, a new year, a fresh start. Full of promise and expectations!
2014 started out like many prior years. I woke up with a tinge of a hangover, but not a tragedy. I spent the day lounging with my friend, a yearly tradition to watch bad tv and eat our yearly Big Mac and Fries. There's comfort in routines and having something to look forward to even if it is a drive thru run in your jammies with a friend. Nearly 10 years we've loved this tradition. Not 10 years in a row. The year she was in Hawaii on a family vacation, she called me sad not to be hitting the drive thru with me. Traditions are good.
I didn't make any "resolutions" for the year. Honestly I was one blog post about resolutions from poking my eye with a fork. Why you should, why you shouldn't, why people don't keep them blah blah blah. I was intrigued, however, with the idea of having a word to guide your year. Hope, faith, love all the usual suspects had been touted and written about. I decided I might untangle my inner control freak and try out the word "release". I of course didn't tell anyone I was trying out this new word because that was more commitment than I was comfortable with. Who am I kidding my control freak is an outy not an inny.
So I pictured releasing my clinched fists and my desire to make everything be right and on time and complete. Maybe I'd just let life unleash itself into some gloriously beautiful thing that I hadn't let happen before. I pictured those women doing leaps and yoga poses on the beach, free and happy.
Then just as the holiday was wrapping up we were pounded with a foot of snow and the Polar Vortex which is a fancy word for, "your pets will die if you leave them outside". So instead of kids going back to school and parents going back to work, we hunkered down for another week of family togetherness. Me, husband, two kids, two newfoundlands and four cats. This was a science fair experiment proving that the Law of Diminishing Returns does in fact apply to family togetherness.
Then my husband came down with the flu. The miserable moaning, groaning, aching and going to die kind of flu. I'm never a very good nurse kind of person, this time I was completely out of empathy or sympathy. I tried to be polite but inside I was "done". I wanted my kids to go to school, us to go to work and the animals to go outside!
I walked around with bleach wipes tied to my belt and slept in the guest room no longer "releasing" but in full on control mode determined not to get that flu.
Finally, the day had come, I was able to leave the house. After 4 full days of being snowed in I was going to leave the house! The kids were still not able to go to school but I was busting out to go to a program for work. I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder on the day that Pa was taking us into the general store. I got up early, put on make up, and my big girl pants, the ones without an elastic waist band. I felt so fancy and free and fabulous.
I braved terrible road conditions that did in fact feel like traveling in Pa's wagon to the general store but by gosh I was having a freaking Starbucks and conversation with someone that I was not related to. My program was going well and then it happened.
I felt this odd tightness in my chest. I was starting to feel achy. I texted my husband who was already feeling better and packing for a weekend snowmobile trip. "My chest hurts, aching, trying not to panic" I typed. But I was panicking. I wasn't releasing. I was having a panic attack.
In the next two hours I went from polly perky positive Starbucks girl to get me to a couch because I'm dying. Dying I tell you.
I made it home, changed back into my PJ's. The same thing I'd been wearing for DAYS. I fell onto the couch and begged people to pile me with blankets. The fake fur blanket, the fuzzy blanket, wool socks, I was dying.
I told my husband I wished I would have been nicer to him while he was sick because I understood now that he had skirted death and I had barely made him a can of Campbells. Death had again knocked on our door at the same time he was leaving out the door for 4 days of snowmobiling with the guys.
He assured me if I could just hang in there I'd be better on Saturday. I tried to believe him but as I shivered and sweated and shivered and sweated I was sure it was an evil plot and I was dying and he was going to spend our life insurance money.
Friday ... dying. I limped through some work calls because there's no such thing as a sick day when you work from home. One challenge after another blowing up my phone. This was release? Shit. Why oh why did I sort of, kind of, consider that word. I kept assuring myself that I would be better on Saturday because he promised. I needed assurance, predictable, tradition, this release stuff was a freakin' scam.
I must admit, the kids were amazing, taking care of their sick mama. The girl cooked, my son cleaned up. They were kind and helpful. I wondered how long they could keep that up.
Saturday morning - still dying. Dying worse. Fever. Miserable. Coughing up unspeakable things. Looking at the Kleenex and seriously wondering if I had coughed up an organ or something. This was it, I was sure of it. The end.
All the animals that had been put back outside because they were no longer at risk of freezing to death were pawing and meowing at the door begging to come back in . You see, they'd like to be assigned to the couch for the year. They're begging for it while I lay dying on it.
Then I became an emotional mess. Too many movies with dead moms, and dead dogs, and pain and conflict. Too much time to think about my life and what wasn't getting done while I lay there dying. Too sick to get anything done, too sick to even write them down for later. Yes, I realize I shouldn't be thinking about my to do list while I was dying but I was only into my 2nd week of this "release" crap and I'm clearly not good at it. If I was dying I did not want someone else picking up my mess.
Then I must have been dying because I did the unspeakable; I reached out for help. I texted my parents over an hour away and a mom from my daughter's gymnastics team to help with my kids for Sunday activities. Not much of that worked out. Asking for help and getting it to coordinate with others are two different things. I do want 2 points for release on that one. A solid attempt.
So my daughter would compete in a gymnastics meet with no family members there and my son would miss his first meeting for a trip he's taking to Europe next year. Seriously, was this what release meant? Seriously? This is not yoga on the beach, this was being okay when your life completely unravels.
Shit. Why didn't I pick faith, hope and love like the rest of the world for my freakin' WORD.
Sunday, I drive my daughter into her gymnastics meet and drop her off with another mom. I make it home and feel like I've climbed a mountain. I'm so sad. My daughter there with no family. Exhausted I lay back down. Back to the couch. My nest of dirty cups that no one will touch, a box of Kleenex and an empty box of Kleenex to put my used ones in. There's a brilliant tip for you all.
With my son still in bed I get up to get some water and have a coughing fit in the process. And then just as I was surviving dying from fever, it happens. My back goes out. I pull a muscle coughing. It's bad. I'm doubled over. I'm in excruciating pain. I crawl back to the couch. Literally. Now I'm in tears not just from the pain but from this nightmare I'm living. I yell repeatedly to wake up my son and make him come down and sit with me. He comes down and I tell him what happened and I start to cry. He's so sweet, he says all the right things. "I'm so sorry mom, I hope you're going to be okay."
I text my parents and tell them the latest. They say they're worried about me. I let them know that yesterday I was worried about me too but today I'm just glad that my daughter will be home soon to make me another outstanding egg sandwich. My life has become like a game of Survivor without leaving my house. I have my son video me trying to make it to the bathroom because I'm convinced this is going to be funny someday. I'm using a small stool like a walker, it's a classic.
I send my son to scour for muscle relaxers in the medicine box, a task I hope doesn't come back to haunt me later. Sadly he comes up with nothing but bandaids and cough drops. Ugh.
After being helpful and kind for several hours, I asked my son to plug in my phone because I can't reach the cord. He gets up and says, "You know I don't mind helping you out but I'm starting to feel like I work in a "home" - ouch.
I learn to give really good and patient communication from the couch. I teach about how to make tacos, and where dishes go and how to find food the dogs can eat from the fridge because we're also out of dog food now. Did I mention the two newfoundlands?
I field texts from others that thought I was going to fulfill commitments that day, my inability to drive for carpool on Monday. Some don't return the messages because I'm sure they're rolling their eyes thinking my dog also ate my homework. Trust me, you can't make this stuff up people.
My stomach now feels sick because I've disappointed people. I don't like to disappoint people. I don't like to not fulfill my commitments. I don't like to not show up on time or not show up at all. That's not who I am! Release. Crap. Maybe I've jinxed myself completely into a slacker!
Through this all I've seen how much my kids are capable of and how sweet and kind they were with me most of the time. I've learned that the world doesn't end when I don't show up, when my kids don't get to their stuff, when the dogs don't have food. All those things I typically control like it's my job. Maybe that's what release is about.
I'm sure there's some sweet and wonderful bunch of lessons and notions that I could wax on about but I'm over it, my new word is cake. I'm going to spend 2014 eating more cake. Just as soon as I can get off my couch.