Does anyone remember the Hasbro/Milton Bradley children’s board game ‘Hungry, Hungry, Hippos‘? The reason I bring it up is because I have felt like I have been living inside that game these past two weeks. Or maybe more accurately, a gopher bop game. The “fun” machine that features a gopher popping up out of a hole (in the board surface) and the player using a cushioned “bopper” to whack it back down. In both games, the winning strategy involves swift and striking, calculated movements. With the object being to either hit as many gophers as possible or eat as many marbles as possible with the hippo head–violent hand maneuvers subject to a time clock. And guess what? Within both analogous childhood recreational games, I am either the gopher or the marble. Itch, itch, itchy, itch, itch…I must pause to pacify my epidermal irritations.
So why write about subject matter that is so heavy, as in my last post? Why bring down the various readers with my muck? Well for the most part, shoot…there is no most part and I have backed myself into a literary corner by suggesting it so. Essentially, this blog is where I live out whatever it is I am living out. Which brings me out of the corner to the thoughts I wish to discuss. Health. In this case health of mind, health of relationship, health of family…my health.
I do not want to be the “gopher or hippo” in life. The other day I wrote my “Every Once in a While” post in the morning. I wrote it from a fairly heavy place–emotionally. But I wrote it in the morning, and the day just continued to get worse, meaning, I was the gopher and whoever was the player had the lead in scoring points. It went like this:
I left the house with Cole resting and ventured to the United Fifty (www.u50.com) shop where Brian was working. I was so down my stomach hurt so I didn’t make myself a lunch. I spent some time with Brian, when our daughter and a couple of friends dropped by for a visit as well. But my stomach just wouldn’t relent so I declared I was heading home. As I backed my car out of my spot I hit the curb. The curb which was covered by a metal grate that slashed my back tire. I called Triple-A (AAA) who came and put on my spare and then I drove to the tire store. The mechanic fit me in but had a pressing need to pick up a vehicle from another client and I was pulled into the errand. That errand ended up being a 3 hour excursion making me miss my Spanish class. And by the time I returned home it was 6:45p.m. Brian was preparing dinner for himself and Cole and wondering what took me so long. No big deal except that I was a bit worn out and the tickets we had for the evenings performance of “Pageant of the Masters” in Laguna Beach (http://www.foapom.com/site/pageant_theme.asp) were not strong enough to rouse my energy level to the point needed for me to attend. Hence, we didn’t see the show (tonight is this seasons final performance). And if that is not enough for one little female to handle, my day offered an additional infraction. I had purchased a “Groupon” for two 90 minute, therapeutic massages for a mere $99.00. An absolute steal (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of massage). I purchased them because both my daughter and I hold much of our stress in our shoulder muscles and while they should, in fact, be fibrous tissue, ours are more in line with the rock of Gibraltar. So while visiting my husband I called the spa to set up our appointments. Only the nice lady (owner of the spa) informed me the Groupon was to be used by only one person, it could not be “shared” by two differing names. Well I did what any martyr mother would do, I gave the Groupon and the TWO, 90 minute massages to my daughter. And at the end of the day, I wanted to cry. I wanted to pout. I wanted the spa owner, the Pageant of the Masters owner, the tire shop owner, Cole, my daughter, my husband and the rest of the world to feel sorry for me. Especially as I felt sorry for myself. Especially as my husband and I were still a bit emotionally downtrodden due to the A-bomb Cole had previously dropped (see last post). …poor, pitiful, me. I am a gopher. I am a marble in a Hungry Hippo game. I am hit (sounds more like a scene from the Milton Bradley game, Battleship, if you ask me!).
Now yesterday, I found myself again very low. At the brink of tears. And I realize the cause. I have been carrying the weight of my son’s emotional health upon my shoulders. This is a natural ramification of him returning home from the hospital, in May of 2011, regressed to his infantile physical state. Being his caregiver and with him throughout the day and evening, I invest much time and energy into keeping his outlook positive, healthy, and forward thinking. But I also do that with my daughter and with my husband as well. Heck, I do it with myself and anyone else who G-d sends along my path–provided I can. So it was, yesterday, that I realized “this needs to stop”. This being, my happiness dependent upon the happiness of my children/husband and more specifically, my son. Especially if my son, for whatever reason, cannot find true joy in this life (though I will not quit my investments in helping him pursue it). This is not a new epiphany. I was at this place when Cole graduated high school and joined the Marine Corps. Many of you readers have moved on from this place long ago with your own children. I believe I am here again because I, in a sense, was returned to my previous role as ‘hands on mother’ to Cole. And now as he gains stability within his new physicality, my ‘hands on’ needs to let go…again. Additionally I have my daughter transitioning out. The road ahead is still a ways down, but we see it on the horizon and are experiencing the appropriate sentiments connected.
I am at a loss when it comes to time frames, suffice to say that at some point while revisiting my mishaps from the previous day, I thought to myself, “This pitiful ranting sounds awfully familiar! It sounds like the character, Alexander, from the children’s storybook, ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.’ Which means my plight is not a new one. My whining about it just compounds the sadness within me. And, it “even happens in Australia” (a pertinent line from the book, for those of you unfamiliar with Alex).” Well folks, I don’t want to be like Alexander. I don’t want to live life as if swinging from an emotional pendulum which is out of my control. And though I contemplate the ‘much and many’ in this life, the good Lord has truly given me a disposition of positivity…for the most part.
So yesterday evening, both Brian and I took a walk at the beach. Crystal Cove in fact (see post titled, Crystallized). And we both were fantasizing about running away for a spell. But to where? For how long? I wanted a month, he felt a week would do the trick (I told him he is wrong!). However, the reality of us taking a vacation this year is nil to none. And together we decided that we need to invest in “fun” for ourselves and with each other–right here where we live–just as we were doing so together at the Cove. Because at the end of the day we are married to each other, we are not married to our children. It is most perfectly natural that Cole and Esther will move on from us because they did not choose us. Our hope is that they will like us and want to visit from time to time. It also donned on us that we hope we like them. The last statement being most profound because I never truly evaluated any other possibility in life. I truly hadn’t considered the possibility of not liking my own children. Because the majority of my joy, these last 21+ years, has come from time spent with them. Itch, itch, itchy, itch, itch!! And what if I don’t like them? …I will always love them, so it doesn’t matter. But life will definitely be more fulfilling if they end up being people I enjoy being around. That is just the pure truth of it. It will also be an added “life bonus” to have them find enjoyment in time spent with their father and me.
This is one long post! I expect not one reader to even make it down to this line because I am sure each and every one of you has enough soap in your opera without needing to blast through an ounce of mine. But if you did make it, thus far, I want to clue you into a promise I have made with myself (though I might forget I have done so). Well more of an intention of mine than a promise. I hope, if I can remember, to keep my writing from delving into the sad, sad places of my soul. Not because I have to, or because I am hiding those places. But because I do not wish to dwell in those places. And because I typically don’t (dwell there). Yet when the darkness is published, it quite possibly remains in the present tense. So let us talk of sunshine, nonsense even. I will strive to jump off the emotional teeter-totter that I have been riding, and writing about. Oh I am sure “fiasco” will still run its fingers through my themes, that seems to be merely the “BentRivka” way of things. But I refuse to clothe myself in any fabric that resembles that of a hippo, a gopher, or Alexander the great.
Besides, I am not a martyr mother. I care for Cole because I want to. Period. I gave the massages to my daughter because I chose to reward who she is. Period. Oh she felt bad, for a split second, that I would not enjoy the muscular respite alongside her. But her first appointment is this afternoon, so the sting of the circumstance didn’t set its roots too deep. Thankfully. And Cole cares about his father and I or else he would have split instead of giving the relationship between his dad and he another go. And tires? Well, they wear out. They pop. They need replacing. And Pageant of the Masters tickets? They expire, they come around again, and they were only seven dollars each–no big loss.
So please, “don’t cry for me Argentina.” In fact, don’t cry at all. Just send in some homemade chocolate chip cookie reinforcements to remind me of who the winner is, in my game of life. Don’t ask why the cookies will help, let us just eat and be merry! Now onto the business of figuring out, and learning again, what makes me happy. Of course, my children’s health and well being will always remain at the top of my list. That is part of my maternal code. Period. Itch, itch, itchy, itch…