So, let’s be real-
I’ve fallen way off my proposed fitness track in the new year. For some reason, that cracks me up because I made my resolution coming into December and still fell off with the New Year’s crowd. I become more ironic the harder I try not to be ironic.
At any rate, within a week of entering the new year, all three of my children were completely flattened by the flu. The terror caused by the potential for disaster in these situations is the stuff of legends, my friends. In seriousness, any virus or illness that can cause respiratory distress is a legitimate cause for alarm in that my youngest has very, very touchy asthma in the winter time, and my son is a toss-up in those situations. The house goes into complete lock down, and my kitchen counters are a smorgasbord of inhaled steroids, cough medicines, decongestants/expectorants, and Ibuprofen (that one’s for me). I kid you not, the last time a respiratory virus entered the house in the winter, my wheezy baby woke me up in the middle of the night, and her mouth was blue.
That shit is terrifying, regardless of having dealt with this for her since her first birthday.
On the realistic parenting side of things, bored, irritable kids means the possibility for a mutiny and/or straight anarchy. It’s almost like negotiating with terrorists if things start to go south. Generally, my kids respond well to scheduling, so when they’re sick, it’s just understood that adherence to that schedule is best for everyone involved. But as they start to feel better and get bored of mandatory quiet/rest time, they start realizing how terribly outnumbered I am. I’m simultaneously trying to keep my house from requiring HAZMAT suits and from being burned to the ground while living under the threat of absolute calamity that would follow my getting sick while they’re stuck in the house.
Dangerous times I have lived in.
Fortunately (but still unfortunate), this flu had such a high fever and level of fatigue accompanying it that I was able to do quite a bit of cooking to put up for the inevitable day I managed to get sick while meeting baseline fitness criteria. I wasn’t on-point with it- especially the weight lifting- but I was managing to get in consistent, weighted cardio and general circuit training up until Saturday or so. My nutrition has been pretty solid, to which I credit seeing 153 lbs. While I’m off track as far as my preferred amount of weight loss at this particular stage (I should be seeing 150 at this point, ideally), the beginning of this year has been a shit show. So I’m going to forgive it.
Yes, somewhere between my heat going out, being swindled by an HVAC repair company, trying to sort out some legal/financial bearings for the year, and all my kids having the flu, my intended track went awry. Slightly further still when, as of Saturday/Sunday, I ended up getting sick and haven’t been able to do anything my ashtanga yoga off and on. But you know what’s funny about that? I ended up with bronchitis. All this time, I kept publicly waiting for the flu to get me, too, as it took down the kids’ father and stepmom within a few days of their being exposed the weekend prior. I took bets on social media about when I’d end up needing all those soups I had frozen earlier in the week. And then the same virus that causes the flu and various colds can apparently present as bronchitis, which came straight out of left field, along with huge, nasty phlegm wads and pieces of my lung (or at least, it feels like it).
Of course, when I expect things to go a certain way and even take measures to prevent it (like with the weight loss track accountability and contracting the flu strain), I’m only partially correct. Generally, I end up with a heaping pile of What even the hell is this? that pairs nicely with I mean, I wasn’t totally off, and I guess I can kinda do this the same way…but different, which results in Eh, close enough.
And that, my darlings, is my excuse for being completely negligent about this blog and getting my ass under a barbell recently. You’re welcome.
On the bright side (and getting more toward the point of this post), Darrin has been aces for the better part of the last week. Not that he isn’t usually- and when you see him, part of you will wonder if he isn’t the Ace of Spades- but moreso than usual in light of the fact that I started losing my grip on the house as I got to be more sickly. It wasn’t enough that the kids were stuck in the house for a week with the flu- that week was followed by another day home for MLK Day and two snow days thanks to the South’s confusion over winter weather. So while the bronchitis aggravated my fibro (which caused more severe fatigue, pain, and mind fog), my kids lost their damn minds to boredom and went straight ape. D not only looked after me, but also became the law of the land day in and day out for the first time, commandeering their respect and obedience. And masterfully so, I must say, in comparison to the way I pretty much devolved into loud lectures and heavy-handedness with chores.
We all know that I’m ridiculous (but awesome), so managing me correctly on top of my very strong-willed, occasionally opportunistic children is a fete to be commended.
What I find even more notable about this is that it was done in a way that I could not have conceived of. I could not have created the course of action he took ahead of time in order to instruct anyone that it should be done that way. Further still, I can’t exactly pinpoint what about it was so earth-shatteringly different or correct. It just was. It made sense, was executed without help or guidance, and resulted in the kids still being alive to return to school this morning.
-Insert a “What even the hell” here-
Like any mother/domestic engineer/goddess of hearth and home, I would like to believe that I know best how to manage my home situation. Coming off a divorce that ended a marriage wherein it truly did feel one-sided in this respect, I felt even more strongly that only I could best conduct this domestic sphere peacefully, efficiently, and responsibly. I’m also not above admitting that I came into single motherhood feeling pretty aggressive (and not just toward the father of my children). I think you almost have to come out swinging and make apologies later in situations like that, considering that women today are generally paid less, given less clout, and expected to manage employment and household duties (i.e. two full-time jobs) without complaint or misstep.
I definitely felt the pressure to keep my shit and everyone else’s shit together in order to try and steady the ship my kids were on. Seas were rough; skies were hard to read. I felt like a survivor breaking free of a prison in which I was wrongfully contained, trying to rescue others like myself- and, indeed, more innocent- with minimal collateral. We had all been wronged in different ways, and our environment was pretty unforgiving emotionally. While I could fend for myself, my young children could not. Mama bear had to maul first and ask forgiveness later to stop the hemorrhaging.
That protective behavior, while useful and not entirely executed without grace, did also result in a feeling that I was the heroine in every short story of my life that occurred. An unlikely one, or everyone’s favorite underdog. I alone could figure out the solution, bring about the resolution, and restore peace. I had to fit together all the people and advice and life-bits to piece together some kind of shelter. I could easily admit to the help I did receive, but it didn’t assuage the feeling that it was solely my job (as it had been for years) to make things happen. And in knowing myself and my kids better than anyone else- or so I thought- there wasn’t a human alive that could come in and change which way our daily flow flowed.
I don’t really think it was entirely pride, although I think that pride did have a little to do with it. I think it was a defense mechanism married to assumptions and colored by projections.
Hey. I’m only human. We do the best we can.
I had every intention of refusing to be in a relationship with someone who couldn’t just assimilate into my construct. My household was a certain way. My kids needed specific things. My character required particular care. I didn’t want to play the victim anymore, and so taking an offensive stance seemed to make sense. I told myself I am a queen in this kingdom. Not because I married- and was subsequently left- by a king, but because I was born a queen and created a kingdom. I will choose who rules next to me. He will enter my realm on my terms, when I say so, and will consider me in all things an equal. Or I will hunt him down like a wolf for his weakness and rip out his throat like a lioness.
A little brutal, but my single moms out there will understand this.
I didn’t hate men. On the contrary, I recognize that my personality, internal wiring, and God-given gifts work together to help me hone myself into a worthy mate. It is my heart’s wish to be a partner (as we discussed in a previous post about my primary goals)- the best possible partner I can be through introspection, accountability, and evolution. But I had come to a point in my life that allowed me to change my understanding of what that meant from something more subservient to something that should be empowering. And sense I was on a necessary empowerment binge…I might have gotten a little too big for my britches.
This is a trap I think a good portion of divorcees fall into, as well. The first go-round didn’t work out, and so in the natural reflection of why things failed, we analyze the previous partner before analyzing ourselves. Too easy to point out what he or she coulda/shoulda/woulda, and then make a list of needs and wants for the next time. In my case (and to my own personal amusement now), I thought that in being as hard on myself as I was on the father of my children, I had a leg up in understanding what it would take to be in a healthy, loving relationship with myself. I legitimately believed I knew what my “correct” relationship would look like.
It’s cool. You can laugh. But only because I’m laughing, because otherwise you’d just be a real jerk for judging.
Darrin is a fair amount of what I understood to be necessary for marital success as marriage was intended to be. But he’s also so many things for which I could not have accounted, and, in some ways, the exact opposite of what I thought I needed. He certainly isn’t one to sit outside my kingdom mote and wait on a freakin’ draw bridge. No, this is more like sending emissaries to negotiate a peace treaty long enough to see if an alliance is mutually beneficial.
Because this mother f’er right here rules in his own right.
D humbles me, but not intentionally. He keeps me straight, pointed north, without correcting me. He’s one of the few humans I’ve come across who, simply by the manner in which they live, calls every bystander around to the carpet within themselves for assessment. There’s a natural command presence, but you could lose him in a room (even with his stature) because he doesn’t impose himself on the room. He requires your respect without saying anything at all, although nine times out of ten he’ll give you the shirt off his back before he acquires anything from you. Darrin will always be direct, take a direct path, and arrive exactly where he said he would, when he said he would. I have never seen such a human bulldozer in my life who accomplishes what he does with very little from anyone else.
For all the demands I thought I had, all the gray area I thought I enjoyed, all the words and thoughts and mental rabbit holes I thought I needed a buddy for- all the predicting I’ve ever done has brought me right back, in this moment, to where I always am:
What even the hell?
I mean, I wasn’t totally off, and I guess I can kinda do this the same way…but different.
Let’s all just be real honest with me right now and say, “You don’t even know, Lydia. Just let it happen, because it sure is gonna be…something.”
I can laugh because God always gives me just enough wisdom to know what definitely won’t work and a little of what will work, but saves the Oooooooooooh, now I get it! moment for His divine timing. The beauty of faith in my life will probably always be that I learn from my own folly after literally and/or figuratively shooting my mouth off about something I think I know. I knew I needed a partner who would respect me and allow me to be who I am, as independent as I am, without patronizing me or restricting me. I knew I needed a shelter from time to time that came without strings attached or the threat of holding that help hostage if I didn’t acquiesce to another request later. I knew I didn’t want to be judged by the things I couldn’t do or unnecessarily praised for the things I could do. In essence, it’s a delicate balance that needed to exist because I can be changeable at times, but am always fearful of being discounted for that quality, and I imagined it would take an equally complicated or intense person to manage that.
I could never have guessed that someone who approached life so simply- despite having an intelligence that cannot be properly labeled- would take all the things that feel so precarious and irreparably tangled and sort them to hold steady while I wander off in whatever direction I’m facing for the day. Which makes me inexplicably better than I was before.
Call me Jon Snow, because I apparently know nothing.
But only after I put another dollar in my figurative jar of not-knowing-ness.