Thursday, October 4, 2012

Misery, Multivitamins, and Blow-drying Your Face

It's official: I don't want to write about the sad stuff. Two weeks into Twelve's summer visit with her dad, she pretty much stopped calling me to say goodnight.

For the last three or four years, a phone call at bedtime has been our ritual when Twelve's been visiting her dad. With time zone differences and early bedtimes, sometimes I'd miss her call and she'd leave a message. Until least year, the first few nights of each visit she'd call in tears, missing home and mommy. I would comfort her as best I could and eventually tell her that she needs to be brave and go to sleep. Yes, you heard that right; from thousands of miles away, I was doing the actual parenting.

You can imagine how it felt to admonish my eight-year-old to stop crying and go to sleep. I'll sum it up for those of you lacking empathy or imagination: Awful. Also enraging, since after all I had done the first eight years on my own and then, once I got her to the point when she could navigate transcontinental travel on her own, someone else got to just swoop in and enjoy the fruit of my labor? Take credit for it, even!? I'd have said indignantly, "I don't THINK so!" except that it was already happening, was approved and encouraged by a legal system that would have compelled me to participate had I resisted, and will continue to happen indefinitely.

Had I been keeping a diary then, I wouldn't have written about that, either.

I also don't write when I am miserable. It was completely unrelated to Twelve, but I had a couple (okay, four) weeks of being kinda miserable. It may have been depression. It may be that my life is stressful and, when life is stressful, those trying to live it don't tend to function all that well. As I said to my child-and-family-therapist friend, being diagnosed with Depression would validate the way I feel. As she said to me, why does it matter? Life is stressful and stress makes it difficult to function. Why does labeling it Depression make a difference?

Either way, seeing a counselor ('free' with the university fees they make me pay anyway) is on my list of things to do.

Either way, I'm giving myself more freedom to be nonfunctional.

I remember the first and only time I held my mother as she cried. I was seventeen or eighteen; I came into the kitchen and found her on the phone, crying. I had no idea what was going on, but went over and put my arms around her. She had just found out that her mother had been diagnosed with leukemia. Twelve did the same for me the other night when I came home crying. She rocked us back and forth and made comforting noises. (It must be one of those skills that people who were well parented have without knowing they have it - like rocking babies or using scaffolding when reading to preschoolers.) I was crying about something absolutely trivial but the fact that I broke down over it was the telling thing. And Twelve's response was spot on; also telling.

To my eternal gratitude, the missed phone calls didn't foreshadow much of anything; Twelve came home at the end of summer just as she should be. Changed, I'm sure, as must always happen, but still herself in the important ways. A bit more materialistic, which is galling, but still willing to look for and excited about finding a Juicy Couture hoodie for five bucks at a thrift shop.

I've returned, more or less, to my usual equanimity; I'm less prone to choking up and haven't cried all week. I've resolved to not need a capital-D Diagnosis of Depression to be okay with how I feel if I don't feel good.

I'm 'taking better care of myself' via the occasional vitamin, even though I really hate taking vitamins. The B vitamins are supposed to be important to one's mood, and I'm supposed to be taking a multivitamin with calcium anyway so that's something to report at my next check-up. 

We've even gone to the gym twice this week before school, Twelve and I together; thank goodness she wants to do this, or it would not be happening. I feel fine about getting an earlier start to my day, but I can't say that euphoria sets in at 7:15 am. Perhaps it's a delayed reaction? We'll see.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention: Twelve became Thirteen today. I'm not sure what that does to my diary; I have a few scribbles of entries I still want to write, and she still does impossible things, like coming into the bathroom during my shower with the cheerful announcement that she has to blow-dry her face. Like you going back to re-read that sentence, I was sure I had misheard, so I peeked out to check. Sure enough, she was buzzing her face industriously with the hairdryer. When she finished, I asked what that was all about. "Warming up my face gives me a good complexion: It's like makeup without makeup!"

I had, and continue to have, absolutely no reply to that.

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