Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting Back Up in the Saddle

(cc) Douglas Cootey

As I sit here typing, the sun is setting—leaving golden hues on the tallest buildings. The sky is a gorgeous blue with streaks of white and purple-gray clouds. Two contrails leave a white scar in the air like a badly formed, backwards "Y". I notice all this and still my brain has not returned to me.

First, the Storm

Yesterday was a neurological nightmare, made worse by my ogre-like personality which was stoked by the electrical storm in my mind. I fell asleep around 11:30pm, early for me these days, and slept for four hours. Later I napped for two. Somehow this was enough to recharge my mind and give me enough presence to zip around town like a hummingbird on wheels. Even with the AC on full blast my brain still cooked due to our right passenger window being stuck open. My mind doesn't function well over 80°F and the minivan was at 92°F.


I'm glad that I was able to be useful. I dropped the Elf off at work and the Leprechaun off at play practice, I picked out and fitted a trike for the Goblin, put gas in the car, picked up some Slurpees, and even gave the Goblin riding lessons. It all sounds so drab and mundane, but after being couch-bound all day yesterday it was a nice change.

Until my brain melted.  

It happened on the phone with my wife. I had a meltdown when I discovered I was stuck babysitting until after 9pm. With a late article to write and a book to dust off and work on, I had been looking forward to some time to myself.

I had an epiphany as I stared up at that calming blue sky. I realized why I think I'll have more time to myself every summer once school is out. I'm afraid the Pixie and the Elf spoiled me. They were such good girls, always taking care of themselves, and not getting into trouble. They played dolls for hours, or watched TV or read books. The Goblin and Leprechaun on the other hand squabble and screech. They break things. They can't be left unsupervised for a second or they'll create new and terrifying messes. They require constant, non-stop micromanagement.

They've been killing my creative self.

It's my old nemesis, Boredom. Micromanaging is torture for an ADHD mind—at least for mine. I just want to slip into the sweet bliss of hyperfocus and get work done, but my li'l fairies keep me skimming the surface of productivity like a dragonfly evading fish. Now, more than ever, I must master my sleep schedule so that I can work BEFORE they wake up, not after when I put on the Daddy hat first thing in my morning then take it off late at night when my brain is fried and useless.

Like now.

Time passes…

My heart and mind want to fly, but instead they are shackled to a horse and plow. Sometimes I forget that this was the life I chose for myself. I am simply having a difficult time of late not losing my identity while I labor.

Tonight as I decompressed at the kitchen table, the Elf began to talk to me. She shared with me her thoughts on her grown up day. How she worked and went to a film festival. How she has learned there is a difference between being a child and being a teenager. How she has learned that there is a difference between being a teenager and being an adult… As I sat there her words flowed over me. So sincere. So serious. So filled with wonder and pride and self-discovery.

This type of moment is what parents live for. We put in so much heart and soul into the raising of these wonderful spirits. We just need a sign that all our efforts are paying off—that we aren't just wasting our time. I gave up a doctor's meeting to drive my girls around. It was supposed to be an alternative approach to managing my ticking via chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. I canceled the meeting with nary a thought. It is easy to lose ourselves in our job as parents. The children are always more important.

As I sat there tonight ticking and twitching as I had the night before, I despaired. It's true. I felt nobody really appreciated my efforts. At the same time I felt so frustrated and trapped, unable to move off the couch—hating myself for needing the help of others. What a Godsend it was that I thought to move into the kitchen when I did. Otherwise, I may have missed that blonde beam of cheery optimism blasting its way into the storm of my cynical and weary mind.

Sometimes we need these random moments of epiphany to push ourselves up into the saddle again. Life can be so burdensome. It's too easy to lose ourselves in our troubles and forget to look up and out and beyond.