I cough, start to type. Today I am going to my studio to paint. It’s effort because I have a cough, woke up at 4:30 AM. It starts with a little tickle. The Nyquill and hot whiskey from the night before has worn off. I think, maybe the coughing will stop, maybe I can go back to sleep. It doesn’t, I don’t want to wake up my husband, or children. I go upstairs, pick up my phone, touch the Facebook Button. Spread butter and sun butter on my toast and drink unsweetened coffee. I scroll through the internet looking at haircut styles, I want my bangs back. I jump on my Peloton bike for a 6:30 AM Heart Rate Training ride. I beat my PR, have a great workout. I still have gunk in my chest. I make beef and bean tacos for lunch, slather them with hot sauce, drink two cokes. I still have gunk in my chest. I want to burn out the gunk. I feel tired, so instead of going to my studio I’m tempted by a sci fi movie on Netflix and a hot bath. Maybe another Whiskey Sour, I mean Hot Whiskey! But I’m going to my studio. Let’s see what happens. It’s 11:08 AM.
I went outside first, before going into my studio, to get some sunshine. Two Nasturtium leaves, dark green with dark brown, damp earth underneath. Two bright yellow sour grass flowers??in front of a full Meyer lemon tree. It’s almost spring. Now going to studio. I look around, turn on some tunes, pull some old works out of the flat file. I decide I’m not going to start anything new anymore, or frame anything. This collection will be re-worked and New Note Books. I mix some paint, white and blues and golds and greys. I try not to conceal too much of what was there before, on the old drawing, but once the works taken a hold of me I can’t stop until it’s done or ruined. Except in my notebooks. It is impossible for a Note Book entry to be Ruined. I was inspired by sickness and gunk and my body. My growing body. My changing mind. The loops I’m going through. Fact or Fiction? Pink or Grey? Thick Lines or Thin?
Jenny Hynes , My new web site I made myself on WIX. Just a week ago I never imagined I would be able to create my own web site just how I wanted it. I did it, I learned how. I am so proud of myself. It still needs some additions but Its a great start.
My book is almost ready too and all my paintings are framed for the show! I would celebrate but I got Jacks cold. I have a half hour left until I’m back on mom duty. I’m going to try to take a nap.
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.
Out the kitchen window I see a fawn. Light brown, head turned back in my direction. She had crossed the black asphalt to reach a patch of flowers. I felt like a roommate who waits till everyone leaves the house before coming out. Grabbing a stick of cheddar cheese and a Braeburn apple. I felt like I was staying home sick from work. Jack and Fiona are at the Zoo with the babysitter, who is scheduled to work till 4. Only my dog is in the house. We took a walk yesterday after we dropped off Jack and Fiona to school. Normally we take a nice long city park hike around. We pass through a park and down the city streets. Yesterday, when we crossed the street and walked behind the little babies’ playground, my legs were killing me, especially my right. FUCK just blurted out of my mouth. I was so scared they would see me. At first, I walked low, trying to hide behind the shrub and fence, then thought, o-well if they did, my legs are killing me. Billy and I bypassed the parks, we did a short ten minute around the block. I just pet Billy while walking up the stairs earlier, before when I saw the deer outside and got my water, cheese, and apple, I felt the lump on her chest. All the lumps are getting bigger, she’s an old dog. I thought I didn’t feel guilty anymore about taking her for such a short walk yesterday, I felt like we are both getting old and she’s probably tired and achy just like me.
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.
I sit on my bed, Thursday afternoon. The house is quiet, Jack and Fiona are asleep. I went to my studio for an hour, painted everything I worked on the other day white. I worked on my notebook pages. I start to cough and feel depressed. The flu can cause depression, I read this on the internet. I decide to come inside, rest. Yesterday I woke up in the morning, my eyes bulging with pain, behind my ears hurt so bad I almost threw up. I called my husband, he could be home by 4:00pm. I had to make it through the day on my own with Jack and Fiona. My legs weak, I had a hard time walking from one location to another as Jack and Fiona called me, “Play with me mommy”. Jack mostly watched T.V. and Fiona stuck by my side all day. While I was still in the process of trying to beat this monster that crept into my body to wreak havoc, I took my vitamins, ate cantaloupe, drank lots of water, and did a kids Yoga video with Fiona. My back, arms, legs so stiff and sore as I went into Childs Pose. Fiona held my hand when we did Tree Pose and airplane. I knew that I was going to recover, I still was scared. I was scared to be alone with my children when I was so sick. I felt myself going into some strange survival mode. As I ate the cantaloupe I felt the juice run down my throat, it felt so nourishing. Fiona and I made a smoothie, she cut the banana, put in the protein powder, turned on the blender, she was so proud.
Last night, after Alan was home, I came down to bed. Fiona wanted to come with me. At first Alan tried to stop her. She cried the kind of cry that shows true disappointment. I said, it’s O.K., she can come with me. “Can I sleep in your bed with you?” Fiona asked. “Yes” I say. My body aches, I can’t get comfortable. Fiona starts to bring animals, horses, the Glass Pig, she brings me pretend food. She talks to me and asks me questions. She doesn’t have her hearing aids on and I’m too tired to talk loud or repeat what I’ve said or use sign. I just say “yes” and “thank you” and that suffices. My bed is soft and cozy. Jack played upstairs with Alan the whole time. Fiona took care of me. It was comforting. I remembered myself alone with the flu. When Fiona was talking to me so much I thought maybe I should have her go, be alone. But I decided to let her stay. I enjoyed her company. I remembered the times I went home from work and jumped in bed. I don’t remember missing anyone to take care of me or keep me company. I thought about the times before Alan and I had kids and he took care of me. I thought about my mom and how she took care of me. My mom died very young and healthy, (except for the massive heart attack). I never had the experience of taking care of an aging parent, but Jack and Fiona will. I think they know intuitively that I will die before them. How depressing am I? Fevers and sickness always remind me of my mortality, of my limited energy. I always get a little bit sad the next day when my fever is gone but I still feel tired but the laundries pilling up and there’s calls to make and e-mails to respond to but I can’t.
Jack and Fiona will be up soon from their nap. I hope to be a good mom and wife tonight, to cook a nice dinner and not stress. Be fully present and available. Every moment counts.
Sick again. Then better. Then sick. Then better. A roller-coaster. Non-stop dishes; complaining re-wires the mind, it makes you more prone to anxiety and depression, I read this on-line. The pile grows, minute after minute, day after day. It causes me anxiety. There’s nothing I can do about it. I feel overwhelmed domesticity-wise. It’s hard for me to handle the constant talking, my name being called from all which ways, 360 degrees around my head, non-stop. The pulling in this direction and that. The mess after mess, Jack and Fiona growing up into actual people, whole people I need to clean up after. There’s no containing the mess, or trying to “keep up with it”, no, it just barrels out, the minute you think you’ve got it all under control, KaBoom! It’s like a hurricane went through the house. I can’t tell how exhausted I am from this whole ordeal. (of being a parent). Or if it’s the beginning of menopause and my hormones are changing drastically, leaving me unable to be the “Good Housewife”. I’ve said this before; it’s back breaking work. It’s intellectual too. Sometimes I’m bombarded with so much talking, mood switches, fighting, whining, asking, grabbing, calling my name, my mind goes blank. I can’t remember names of common zoo animals. Spaghetti brain. Then the constant anxiety over the election, pure fright. Do I need something stronger? Something to numb my body and my senses? A costume? A disguise? Fake it till I make it? Does my stomach hurt from stress or hormones? Or is it real? Are all feelings real? How do we honor ourselves and how we are feeling when we are under a heavy pile of dirty laundry? Too heavy to pick up, too massive to just “get it done”. These are feelings that go through my mind and body. Things I say that get taken out of context, another problem when you’re raw. Is it a shared feeling? A shared sense of being? It’s noon, Monday November 7, 2016. Tomorrow is the election. We will see if some of my discomfort will go away after tomorrow (If Hilary wins). If Trump wins, I just don’t know. It will be a very sad and difficult day for me, for a lot of people.