Friday, November 14, 2008

Selfish, lazy, mediocre...

And I did it. Added a picture to my NaBloPoMo page, that is. But no blog posts. I guess people are just going to have to click on over to find out what I'm doing.

In the non-virtual world, I've been tied up with sick kids. Again. I feel like I should tattoo "Beware of Germs" on our foreheads. I feel like my friends are going to start avoiding us and the germs we seem to crawl with. I feel like a failure. I wash hands diligently, feed the kids lots of fruits and vegetables, take multivitamins and supplements, avoid cold-bearing friends and places, etc. And still: the kids get sick. A lot. So much so that I'm starting to have people comment on it.

Look, I know why the kids get sick. They have inherited allergies, asthma, and eczema that tax their immune systems, thus making them more vulnerable to colds. But there is so little I can reasonably do about the allergies. They have some medications (M at least) and we've cleared the house of the big culprits. Still, too much running and coughcoughcough. A little cold turns into a big ordeal. I know it's not enough.

But the alternative? Trying a bunch of radical changes that may or may not do anything, other than throw our whole life for a loop. If I was assured that these changes could help our kids, I'd do them. Even if they were tough. Even if they seemed un-doable. But I don't know that.

Okay, but I do know that I ought to just try. I mean, it's my kids and their health. But it seems like such a huge thing to do that I find myself praying, thinking, hoping that things will just resolve themselves on their own. Isn't that how we are about so many problems, parenting or otherwise? It's just a phase. Or, It's just this one time. Or, It's not really a big deal. We tell ourselves these things when the nagging little spirit within--often the Holy Spirit, if you're of faith--is telling you otherwise.

Why? Human nature. Laziness. Denial. Envy, even, of other people who have it so easy. Common sense, which tells me that other people are fine without these extreme measures. But we're not fine, right? And these aren't other people. They're us.

And I know parents who've made similar changes. I know they've managed, that they live happy lives, but it seems like such a big change fraught with such uncertainty. So what made them decide to do it? And does the fact that they made the same decision that I continue to avoid make me a worse parent? Or just a realist? Just some combination therein?

It just seems like I can't manage the daily stuff. How in the world can I tackle something so big? Where do you come up with that strength? Or am I just shortchanging myself? Because I know--regardless of whatever else there is--that I'm just a capable of a mom and person as anyone else. It's just a matter of application.

And today, the only application I've managed is a fork and knife to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet. And my NaBloPoMo page. And the photo book I'm making for my grandmother. Which seems in writing like a lot less necessity and a lot more avoidance. Great--Now I can add shallow to growing list in my head.


Melissa said...

Wow, there's a lot to unpack here, D! First: kids get sick a lot. Yes, your kids get sick on the higher end of normal, but someone's got to fall on that end of the spectrum. Besides, there are two of them, which means twice as many chances to pick up germs and bring them home. And that's frustrating, and tiring, and blech, but if we're not talking about serious illnesses here, it might be okay to just live with it.

I don't know what changes specifically you're thinking of here, but I'd like to point out that you make choices not out of laziness, but in keeping with your own priorities and values. So those things you aren't doing? you probably aren't doing them because you are doing something else that you value more.

For example, using my own laziness: I could put away laundry with more regularity, instead of leaving it about the house sorted in baskets. I could. But more than I value the clean house and unwrinkled clothes, I value having an hour to write/blog/email. You might think those things are "lazy," but I think they help me maintain sanity. I'm guessing your list is full of similar trade-offs.

I (obviously!) don't think you're a "worse parent" or more of "a realist" than other parents, I just think you have different priorities and therefore make different choices than the people you're comparing yourself to. What do you think?

Heather said...

Dear, dear dear. Man these voices/lists in our head can be really caustic sometimes, no?

The whole food-elimination thing is a really huge pain in the ass. I say don't go there unless someone is puking or breaking out in life-threatening spots (or possibly, not sleeping, but I'm not sure...). Like Melissa said, you're choosing to be a better parent and more sane rather than pursue _every possible_ avenue that might possibly help a little bit. Which, if you think about it, is perfectly logical. Trying everything is crazy-making.

Take it from me, an expert on crazymaking from year one.

Diana said...

Very calming words, everyone, and very sensible too. Why is it that things other people say sound so reasonable, especially when applied to themselves, but hardly feel fair to be applied my way? I guess there are two things in response:

1) I have trouble seeing ensuring my own sanity/happiness/health as anything but lazy and self-indulgent. I KNOW that's not the case. Logically I can tell myself that I need to take care of me (think oxygen masks on a plane: secure yours before securing masks on those around you). Doing so just feels contrary to my do-for-others nature.

2) I never feel like I do enough for the kids. That's the trouble with a job that has no deadlines, a hazy end goal, and endless possibilities. I'm constantly selling short what I do by focusing on what I don't do. This case is no different.

So I suppose, on closer examination, this is less about my children's colds and more about my own lack of confidence. Too bad there's no antihistamine or elimination diet for that one. Okay, I know, elimination of bad thoughts, diet of encouraging aphorisms. Don't think I haven't tried those. But if only anything was that easy...