Category: Depression and anxiety

Twin Life

“Are you giving me a ticket?” I ask the parking ticket lady, I can see it’s too late for her to not give me a ticket, she’s already punching in all the info.

“You can wait in the car” she says.

I get in my car, engine running, hazards on, Fiona in her car seat, Billy in the back, windows fogged up. Its raining.

“I messed up, I’m a bad mom” I say as the parking lady hands me my $65.00 ticket.

“I knew I shouldn’t have done it, it is raining so hard I just wanted to run my son to school without getting Fiona out of the car. ” I say.

“I’m sorry, but this spot is dangerous, a parent got hit doing this same thing while taking her child out of the car seat. Since she was parked in red insurance didn’t cover her injuries, they said it was gross negligence since she parked in the red” she tells me.

I was scared getting Jack out if his car seat, the way the cars come around this intersection. I imagined a car whacking me as I was leaning into the car, I wondered what that would feel like on my legs, would they break? Would I recover?

As I drive Fiona to school I decide I will never do that again, hurry, cut corners, Park in red.

The whole reason we were hurrying was because we all overslept, Fiona missed the bus, Jack wouldn’t get dressed or get in the car, it was raining cats and dogs, just one of those mornings.

They are still sleeping right now but will be up soon. I need to make the breakfast and Fiona’s lunch. Jack doesn’t have school on Tuesdays or Thursdays so I need to figure out what to do with him. I want him to take Billy for a walk with me. I wish we could do that without any crying or complaining. He’s hard to bargain with.

I feel like crap. I have a headache and was up all night with hot flash after hot flash. Ugh. I wish I had a babysitter today. I wish I could paint today.

I just heard foot steps. It’s almost 8:00. I need to hurry now. My head is killing me.

Twelve hours to go.

Worrisome Times

I’m having anxiety lately. It’s hard to just sit here and not worry. Are other people feeling this way too? I am worried about the people getting hammered by hurricane season. I am worried about the Trump administration. The horrible things I worried about when president Trump became the Republican nominee are coming true. The worst things I thought he would do are happening. Thank god for our judicial system, at least things can be slowed down a little. I worry about the Earth and Global Warming. I worry about nuclear war. I worry. The furrow between my eyes becoming deeper. The lines around my lips. We all die someday. Will I be alive to see the collapse of the world as we know it? What future is there for Jack and Fiona?  I live in the moment when we are together, like it is the most important time in the world. My worries slip away when I am with my children. I cherish those moments, even the annoying ones.

I am forcing myself not to turn on the news again today. I must force myself. I am consumed by the bad news, the fires, the racism, all of it. I need to not watch the news and not look up facts about places and weather systems and wars. This morning when I was walking Billy, passing the Mission, I read the Church Services Schedule. I noticed there was a Haitian service, one Sunday a month at 6:00 PM. I thought about taking Jack and Fiona. I imagined the Haitian Priest conducting the service in French, and how beautiful it would be. Then imagined Jack and Fiona making too much noise and maybe the church goers would be mad at us and think we were rude. It felt good to know there is a Haitian community in San Rafael.

Outside, a sea of noises. Dogs barking, Blue Jays cawing, the Sycamore tree leaves rustling. The chimes-chiming. I finally take a deep breath. Fiona and Jack will be home from preschool soon. Older and wiser than when they left this morning. I’m going to try not to worry this afternoon. I’m going to give myself a break. Drink a glass of Sake, take my sign language class, take care of the kids and go to bed early. I want to turn on the T.V. so bad. I should unplug all of the T.V.’s. Turn off my phone. Let it all go. Except my sign language class. It’s a webinar!

Old Dog #2

How to build up your immunity when you’re an older mom with multiple young children

 

#1. Take baths, or meditate, or drink a cup of tea or coffee alone. The point is to be alone and chill. I know it’s hard, to find the time, to get away from the kids, to let go of responsibility and stress for twenty minutes. It’s hard and hard to justify it, until you realize you’re not so young anymore. Until every rendezvous to the kids museums and schools send you home with the flu. Until you can’t believe how much you’re getting sick. You start feeling like a heroin junkie on the couch playing cartoons for their little kids. Are you sick mommy? They ask. Yes, my throat hurts. I don’t tell them about the fever, the horrific body pains that shift each time I get a new fever. You begin to realize it’s time to take a bath, often. To take those twenty minutes. To not exercise as hard or as much as you used to, even though you see no reason not to EXCEPT that you literally do not have the energy to do it all. Just the basic stuff, cleaning, exercising, taking care of the house, the dog, playing with the kids, taking them places, grocery shopping and meal prep. Your body says NO in one way or another. Maybe it’s too late, maybe I’ve used up too much of my reserve, but it seems to me by trying to be healthy and productive as a mom I have made myself prone to sickness. I’m getting in the bath now, with a facial mask and shaving my legs. I’m drinking my water, having a glass of white wine. It’s Friday, the house is clean and all the laundry is clean. Jack and Fiona are at the park with the babysitter. The only thing I truly regret about this week is my lack of studio time, but I was sick. I miss the studio so much when I’m away.

Rheumatic Fever

You will survive the doctor says. I sit on the edge of the exam table on a Saturday afternoon. I can’t believe I got an appointment. Just drop me off, I tell Alan. Take the kids to the park. I’ll figure out what to do after. I’m sick again, or having a relapse, maybe rheumatic fever. Maybe I’m just PMS’ing, perimenopause, maybe menopause. I say this to the doctor. I wipe tears off my face. I’m sorry, I’m just breaking down. The nurse took my blood pressure twice, its low, 84 over 55. Same both times. It looks like this has happened before. She says reading my chart. When she leaves the exam room I start to  cry. I hope they don’t keep me, I hope I don’t get rheumatic fever or congestive heart failure. Hearts aren’t strong in my family. That’s why I’m taking the celexa. Do you ever meditate? The doctor asks me. I think it would help a lot, she says. I did before. Before Jack and Fiona were born. I tell her. I’ve started going to Yoga again recently, but haven’t been in a month because of this stupid sickness, cough, sinus infection, never ending. How old are your kids? The doctor asks. Three and a half. Yup, do they go to daycare? Yes, I say. You will be sick until they are six she tells me. So, I’m not dying? No, and you can’t get Rheumatic fever since you took the MOX anyhow.  My grandpa had rheumatic fever, it kept him from going to d-day she tells me. Everyone in his battalion died. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for rheumatic fever. The doctor tells me. Wow! I say. I tell her how my grandma used to tell us the story of having rheumatic fever when she was a child. How it affected her life. They didn’t have the antibiotics until 1965 says the doctor. There’s always drama around those stories she says. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are sick with the responsibility of having to take care of kids. Get some rest, drink a hot toddy, and start meditating. Doctors parting words.

Now and Forever

 

My studio is a mess. The whole thing. Paint brushes hard, palette knives covered in dry paint. Works I work and work and work over. Mud and ambiguity. All over the place. Sadness in my heart. The circle of life, the we are who we are fact of it all. The THIS IS WHAT IT IS and accept it. I would do anything to have you back in your studio working my friend. Anything. I see myself in you, you in myself. Line and brush stroke, ink and glue. Ripping and attaching. The highs and the lows.  The circle of the dark giant PVC pipe, too dark to see inside. Head first, head lost, if it wasn’t attached. Another toke another joke, another pill another drink, another depression. It’s all the same for you and me. The happiness, the togetherness, the creativity and productivity. It all goes together. The dyad of life. The need for escape. The difficultness of paying the bills on time, of remembering where they were put. The studio needs to be cleaned. I miss my friend. I feel a loss knowing that he’s not in his studio working. The art community is a precious circle. One falls, we all fall.  The losses are real. Painting and making, filling the void, the loss, heartache, disappointment, pressure, setback. Do the lines on the canvas fill the space that good, innocence once lived? That bad happened? I put on my crusty apron. I put on my rubber gloves and begin to work. To fill the dark space with grey, blue, pink, green, muted, layered, collage, charcoal. Work is all I can do. I stay afloat. I have the lost souls in my heart. Keep them protected.  Foggy mind, draw for clarity. Foggy mind, paint for clarity. Scratch and claw out of the PVC pipe. Once I stop making I stop living.

The Sycamore Tree

               The Sycamore Tree

There is a giant sycamore tree on my street. I can see it from my kitchen window. It was planted the year we moved into our house in a five-gallon bucket. Today it’s the tallest, widest, tree in our neighborhood. In the summer, it’s full of dark green leaves. In the fall, they turn to yellow then bright orange. Winter, magnificent bare branches are exposed where in the spring tiny yellow finches cover the tree. From my window in February the branches still look bare, but when I walk by close I can see tiny little leaves. So many things in my life have changed since that tree was planted.  Eight years ago, when I was training for my first Olympic triathlon I would ride my bike up our steep hill until I saw the sycamore tree, sweaty, legs weak, tree still small. The year after that I did my first IVF transfer, followed by disappointments, sadness, infertility treatments. The next year, pregnant I relaxed watching the tree, then my first miscarriage I recovered, watching the sycamore tree. Its leaves reach up into the fog this morning, air cool, a crow in the distance cawing. Clanging of recycling being dropped into the big yellow trucks. Jack and Fiona are still sleeping. When Jack and Fiona were born I set up blankets on the deck where we could see the sycamore. They laid down, two chubby babies, so tiny, compared to the giant tree. My studio downstairs, waiting for me. There are no windows in my studio but I can still feel the presence of the tree. The first fall Jack and Fiona were alive as the sycamore tree started to change I felt like I was missing my cue. I wasn’t registered for any art classes, I wasn’t starting any new programs like I had every year of my adult life. I was a new mom, the tree reminded me of the time passing, fall into winter into spring. Jack and Fiona were growing, the first several months were difficult. I needed my studio, I needed my creativity to grow like the tree. I started to get worn down after nights of constant feedings and diaper changes. I was missing my classes, my painting. I didn’t know how much I was changing and growing, or how much the experience of motherhood would affect my studio time.

The lifespan of Plantanus Occidentalis, the American Sycamore tree is more than 200 years. That tree will be there long after we are gone.  I think about that, our short time here. I first started back in my studio after the babies were six months old, it felt like a long time had passed. I started getting very depressed.  At first, I tried to get large chunks of time in my studio, like I was used to from my life before becoming a parent. It was difficult to get much time, I was frustrated. It took me several months to develop a new technique that worked. I learned that even if I only had an hour or thirty minutes it was worth it. I started working on my naptime notebooks and paintings. I focused on spontaneity. I left my critical mind out of the studio. I’ve grown as an artist this way, with these restrictions. I shed my leaves and grew back new ones, use what time I do have instead of thinking I don’t have enough time, inspired and grounded by the sycamore tree. Memories are imbedded in that tree, it is a keeper of the past and a beacon of years to come.

SELF/portrait

Layers of skin and organs and blood and pain. Layers of joy and pleasure and softness. Layers of hardness and calluses and sun spots and crusty toe nails. Layers of stress and relaxation. Of noticing, of ignoring. Of panicking, of accepting. I hate myself. I love myself. I hate him, her, them, us, our world. I love him. I love her. I love our world. I love my dog. I hate my dog. I love my chair. I hate my chair. Fuck, I hit the corner of my toe again on this chair. Fuck I hit my shin again on this stroller. Yesterday, I’m watching a couple, drinking forty ounces of Miller high life outside the Big Rock Deli. I pull up, think Yum, wish that was me. I’m with Jack, ready to pick up Fiona.  Just gotta pick up some lunch. The couple looks at his phone. All of the sudden they jump up in a hurry, get in the SUV with forties half gone in their laps and take off. What are they doing? Where are they going? I feel cool with only one kid right now, but he starts pushing, he starts climbing, he starts trying on sunglasses, touching everything. I feel helpless. I follow him saying no. I follow my children saying no. I have best intentions. I am open and happy. The more I give the more they take. “You’re never satisfied” I say. It’s always something. They take and take. I give and give. I make time to love myself. I make time to take hot baths and put on facial masks and take care of my feet and take yoga classes and do spin workouts and eat right. My stomach still always hurts. My best intentions can’t remove my frailty. My age. My premenopausal symptoms. My disconnection with my body. My painful, swollen, annoying body. I love you body. Thank you body. You are a good body. But I hate you. But I love you. I’m trying. I lay down now. I leave the dishes, I leave the picking up to lay down. I put a pillow under my knees. I rest. I feel guilty. I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t say shouldn’t. I paint. I draw. I feel. I get excited, then exhausted. I get honked at as I’m driving and Jacks saying “I want to go home over and over again” and Fiona’s saying “I want tiny” over and over again. I’m sorry other driver. I’m sorry, maybe I cut you off on accident. I’m sorry. He drives behind me and when I make my left had turn he honks at me one last time to make sure I know how mad I made him. “It’s always the woman drivers” I hear my husband saying in my mind. We try. We try our best. We try to see you. We try to be good drivers with screaming kids in the car. O-Well. I take comfort in the fact that I never honk at people. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I am kind.