I Am a Loner

lonetreeI’m not a complete loner.  I like to have friends and family, especially the friends, which I never had many of until recently.  I need to be alone, though.  If I don’t get alone time on a regular basis, I become a very not-nice person.

Part of that is the strain of maintaining masks and meeting expectations for the people I am around.  When people are around me, I am constantly thinking about how I look, what do other people think about my actions, am I behaving appropriately, etc.  I don’t need to do this with Brian or my kids, but I do with pretty much everybody else in the world, even my parents to a certain extent.  That creates a drain on my inner resources, and I need the down time of being alone in order to recover and reset.  If I go to an event, I need to have a place that I can retreat to and be alone (which means I will never be sharing a room with a roomie at Con).

Another piece of the puzzle is a need for periods when I am not interrupted.  Being interrupted in a task is very hard for me.  I have a very hard time getting back to where I was when interrupted, and again, if it happens too much, I become a very not-nice person.  This is where sometimes I can’t even be around my family, because no matter how nicely I ask or how hard they try, generally my kids can’t avoid interrupting me on a regular basis.  Brian can do it, if I ask him to.  When I need to be alone for this reason, sometimes a public place will do.  I can go to a coffee shop or a park or someplace where people are around, as long as they are strangers and don’t want to talk to me.  I’ll do this for studying.

A third reason I need to be alone sometimes is just interaction.  Any interaction.  Sometimes, I need to go into my own little world and not be touched, not be spoken to, not have anything expected of me.  I might respond to text messages and similar non-verbal, non-corporeal communication, but that’s it.  I can get to this level after a long day, after a day of travel or of being with the kids away from home for a long period of time.  Sometimes a few hours of being at Foster will trigger it, or even being in ritual space for a while, with the constant noise and people and needing to watch Kender and talk to everybody and pay attention, and again I become a very not-nice person until I get my alone time.

I need each of these, to some degree, every day to stay at my best.

I have gotten the impression over the years that this need to be alone, to not communicate for extended periods, is abnormal, and that people are offended when I need to go away. This makes me feel like seeking alone time is not appropriate, and I feel bad about it.  Perhaps I just need to be more up-front about my needs and my reasons, and not worry about what people think.  I also need to be aware of the need and plan better for it, plan my escapes and my necessary alone periods when I know I’m going to be around people a lot, so that I can recover and regroup before I become that very not-nice person.

I Blame Mercury

The last few weeks, it seems like little things keep creeping up on me. Today, I feel like I’m hitting that point of no return, where the shit is about to hit the fan.

Background: Last week, I had to deal with 3 messed-up computers. The neighbor had some viruses on hers, and I had to reset hers to factory to restore it completely. My mother’s started acting wonky, and ended up functioning but without the “click” feature of the touchpad working. And mine…hosed itself. (Beware the AntiMalware Doctor!) I got everybody else’s computer fixed but mine, and re-upped the defenses on all the other computers in our home network.

Sunday, Jarod was supposed to go to a birthday party, but the mom called to reschedule at the last minute, due to resident pukers. (NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!)

Tuesday morning, the internet connection started going down. It took me almost an hour to get it back online, but since it’s happened before (usually when the power goes out), I figured it would be okay.

Last night, I tried to install Ubuntu on my old computer, since the Windows OS was obviously trashed. It wouldn’t work; the installer would either halt, mess up the screen, or auto-reboot. At the same time, the Internet started going out again. I was trying to work on that and my computer at the same time (so I could access Ubuntu tech files), but I could only keep the Internet up for a few minutes at a time. I gave up after a bit. Later on, Brian’s computer started blue-screening and the mouse would stop working.

So I started this morning with a downed Internet, a downed computer that Brian needed for an on-call shift this weekend, a house with barely any food because I was putting off shopping, and TWO birthday parties on the schedule, one at the park in 46-degree weather. Oh yeah, and Brian needed a ride home from work picnic party. I was planning to bring some homemade bread and cheese to the , so I started in on the bread as soon as I got up, trying out a new recipe, bouncing between upstairs computers (tethered to my phone for internet access to look things up) and downstairs computers (intermittently failing and needing Windows updates installed) and occasionally chores. (I haven’t gotten much schoolwork graded/taught the last couple of weeks.)

The bread must be a good recipe. The kids demolished both loaves within 15 minutes of my cutting them. So much for party food.

Brenden decided after lunch that he didn’t want to go to the park party. I didn’t blame him; I didn’t really want him outside in the chill for several hours. Once he decided he was staying home, Liam decided he was staying with him. So I ended up dropping off the girls at the party, turning one trip into town into at least two (did you know it costs me over a hundred dollars to fill up my gas tank now?). On the way to the party, Caitlin informed me that she’d been seeing a bunch of strange, new floaters in her left eye since that morning.

I did get by Sams with the younger boys, and then picked Brian up on the way home. While I was in transit, my brother checked out my computer and declared my hard drive a total loss. Great. No sooner did I get home than I to turn around to go back and pick up the girls. On the way home, Caitlin tells me her eye is getting worse, and now it looks like when her glasses are fogged up. I left her with Brian to figure it out, grabbed Jarod, and turned around to take him to his friend’s birthday party (no longer puking, thank gods).

Reagan’s party was cute. Jarod was the only kid there (I wonder if all the others were scared off by the puking?), so he and Reagan were glued to each other’s side the whole time. Listening to them talk was so much fun, me and Reagan’s aunts and cousins were just cracking up most of the time. Jarod was good, although he did try to open Reagan’s presents for her. By the time they were ready for the pinata, it was just me and Jarod, and Reagan and her brother and parents. I saw the pinata…and flashed back to Birthday Blowout 2005, the Year of the Unbreakable Pinata. That year, even Brian and my dad whaling on our pinata with a metal baseball bat couldn’t open the darn thing. We practically had to rip it apart by hand. I had no idea there was such a thing as a pull-string pinata until then…and I could see that Reagan’s dad had never heard of them, either.

I’m nice. I let him in on the “anti-violence pinata” secret. I’m not sure he believed me at first, but he did have Joline go get a metal baseball bat. They let Reagan have a couple whacks at it, and you could hear it go “clink” when she hit it squarely. Not good. So Reagan walked up and yanked on the strings herself to get it over with. Smart girl!

Not like me. I am not a smart girl. I tried to be nice, pulling Ethel off to park beside the driveway so all the other people there could still get out. Turns out, though, I apparently parked Ethel in the local swamp, and she couldn’t get out. Poor Mark had to chain his truck to Ethel’s tow-hitch and pull her out! (Joline told me to tell Brian I went mudding instead of going to the party.)

When I got home, I found out that Caitlin’s eye had gotten even worse just in the couple of hours I’d been gone. She couldn’t read with that eye or see anything very clearly, although she swore she couldn’t see anything like curtains. So now, at 9:15pm, I sit waiting for Dr. Trese’s office to call us back and tell us when she needs to be seen by who, my “work” computer is even deader than I thought, Brian’s work computer is questionable, and we still can’t get to the internet (my laptop is still tethered). Oh yeah, and we’ll probably start puking in a few days (although I will hold out hope that we missed it).

I blame Mercury.

On the positive side, I did run for 20 minutes straight yesterday. And Kender is started to talk more. Got to find the balance somewhere.

5 Minutes

I have 5 minutes to write down what I most want to remember about 2010. I want to remember Kender’s first times walking with his cane, the way he usually uses it like a pony stick but sometimes he gets it out in front of him and uses it appropriately. I want to remember Jarod’s smile, and the way he insists on kissing my cheek. I want to remember Liam’s love of his chemistry sets, how much he enjoys learning new things and how fast he picks everything up. I want to remember Caitlin’s artwork, the beautiful pictures that just come flowing out of her pencil. I want to remember Tamara’s insight, her social understanding, her sudden ability with the jewelry kits that were bought on a whim. I want to remember Brenden’s love of the game, and the way he made his own archery bow from scraps in the yard this year and made his own arrow and made it WORK! I want to remember Brian allowing me to sleep in on the weekends, especially after the sleep study said I was just not getting enough sleep. I want to remember taking the family to Texas and climbing up Enchanted Rock, seeing all the prickly pears and yucca and hundred-year plants in bloom. I want to remember picking apples in the cool fall breeze, everybody sneaking bites and trying to grab some of every variety in the orchard.

Time’s up.

Appreciate

What have I come to appreciate this year? Many things. Believe it or not, I have come to appreciate what Michigan has to offer. I tried to spend each day this summer enjoying the warmth and greenery, storing it up for winter’s chill. I appreciate being able to plant things and see them grow without much effort. I appreciate not having to water the grass three times a week all year. I appreciate the bounty of the harvest up here, with almost anything that grows available to pick or buy within an hour’s drive.

I’ve been working on appreciating my children more this year. That sounds horrible, but I’ve found a nasty tendency on my part to get annoyed too quickly. So I’m working to bury that impulse, and to smile and enjoy the moment instead of insisting on quiet and order all the time.

11 Things

11 things I don’t need in 2011:

1. Debt. Dear gods, how I don’t need this! I swore it off for 2010, then let little things creep up and add to it. In 2011, I hereby swear to follow Dave Ramsey as closely as possible, including *not* spending $80 to sign up for his website (ha!). I will *not* go on a vacation that requires extra money. I will *not* allow the blind people to puppy-dog me into approving outlays for big toys. I *will* work harder to bring in what extra money I can.

2. Hand-me-down clothes. Yes, I actually do need and use hand-me-down clothes. But no, I don’t need hand-me-down *girl* clothes, I don’t need hand-me-down boy clothes smaller than Kender, and I don’t need clothes that I don’t wear anymore. As soon as possible, everything needs to go to Goodwill or a good home, and I will stay on top of this during the year and make sure nothing goes into the basement without a future recipient living in the house.

3. Baby things. Yup, time to purge those, too. I should make it a goal to donate or give away one baby thing each month, and maybe 5 baby toys each month? It’s scary, because the last time I gave away any baby things, I got pregnant. If that happens again, I’m just going to have to break my promise on thing #1.

4. Flab. I really don’t need any more flab. I managed to gain almost 20 pounds in 2010. They have to go, along with their friends that invited them in. I want to get back to skating, other things permitting. I also want to get up and exercise in the mornings more. My days go better when I do this anyway. I’ll continue to eat better, too. I need to be better about keeping fresh fruit in the house, and planning and cooking dinner.

5. Stress. I need less stress. So many stressors are out of my control, but I can choose how to deal with them. Ideally, I’d like to add meditation to my morning routine, but I’m already adding exercise. I guess we’ll see how that works out. In the meantime, I’m already trying to take a breath and consciously adjust my viewpoint whenever I feel myself getting overloaded. It does seem to help.

6. Broken promises. I need to do better about keeping my commitments. I need to check my calendar before I make promises to the kids or to anyone else, and then ADD the promise to my schedule and KEEP it.

7. Clutter. I need to get rid of clutter in my house. I try to stay on top of it, but it keeps sneaking up on me.

8. Dirt. I don’t need dirt in my house, either. For things #7 and #8, I will try to stay on top of my Flylady lists and routines, so I can get and keep things more picked up and cleaner around here.

9. Diapers. If I’m done having babies, then I definitely don’t need diapers anymore. Kender will turn 3 in 2011, and here’s to Kender potty-training younger than Jarod did!

10. UFOs. I have too many UnFinished Objects lying around. I will work harder at sticking to and finishing projects I have instead of starting new ones. I’ve actually done pretty good at this in 2010, so this is a continuance.

11. Internet chatter. I do feel that I need some amount of this, just to stay informed. Blogs and such are almost the only way I get my news, now. But I do not need to get into debates, or spend time arguing with people. Part of me still wants to get the word out, politically evangelize, so-to-speak. But this is causing too much stress, and I spend too much time thinking about conversations and following up on debate points. I’ve made progress on this by getting off of BabyCenter. In 2011, I will stay off, and continue cutting down my interactions on other sites.

Wisdom

I was doing so good, but then this prompt came up and stumped me. Here is the prompt: “Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?” Is it a sad commentary on myself and my self image that I couldn’t really think of how to answer this?

You have to define wisdom first, I guess. I certainly don’t think of myself as wise. So let’s check the dictionary. Dictionary.com says wisdom is knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. Okay, so that’s just doing the right thing? Or is it bigger than that, making choices that wind up being correct on a path to a larger correct goal?

One piece of wisdom that I have worked on turning into action this year is getting my house in order first. I always want to be out doing things. I want to take the kids to all the homeschool classes and field trips. I want to help anybody who needs help. I want to be in clubs and have activities to go to. But I need to get my home life in a position of comfort first. When just the thought of the things that need to be done around here stresses me out and causes me to lose sleep, I have no business taking on activities and responsibilities outside the home. If our basic schoolwork is not getting done, we don’t need extra classes. If my housework is not getting done, I don’t need to be out playing. If I’m not happy, how can I bring happiness to others.

I don’t know how “wise” this is. But I do try to keep it in mind when making choices. My first responsibility in life is to my husband and my children. If their needs are not being met, then I need to back up and get them, first.

Yeah, that came out sounding like a blithering idiot. See why I was avoiding this prompt?

Party

Now I’m supposed to write about the best party I remember of 2010. I don’t get out much anymore, I guess, because I’m having trouble remembering much. My biggest party memories would have to be split between our October birthday bash and the November birthday party of a friend’s daughter.

We have four birthdays in October (in our house; there are two more in the immediate family), so each year we have a big party for all four of them at once. This year, it was a Halloween/fall party, too. It ended up being a bit last-minute in the setup, as they always seem to, but since I prefer the focus to be on the kids getting together and playing, it worked out well. We had bobbing for apples, which was a lot of fun to watch. The kids played zombie tag outside. And I made a huge cake where I tried to incorporate all the themes that everybody had wanted for the party. The girls wanted fall and wedding themes, and the boys wanted soldiers and Halloween. So I ended up with a wedding cake topper, but I shredded the veil and drizzled red food coloring on them to make them look like zombies. I put them at the top of the cake, surrounded by a pumpkin patch. Finally, I got some toy soldiers (sent by the government, obviously!) and set them up in an assault on the dangerous zombie bride and groom. Success!

In November, our friends’ daughter turned 5. This happened while my mother was in the hospital for her cancer treatment, and my father was visiting to help out, so he came along with us. My friend’s parents were also at the party, and her father and my father really hit it off. Normally, her father is a bit of a wallflower, just sitting on the couch and not saying much. But with my father there, our dads talked and talked and talked all afternoon and all evening, and we had to practically drag my dad out the door to shut them up and leave. It turned out that our fathers joined the Air Force within weeks of each other, and were at the same base for basic training at the same time. This is just another in a long string of coincidences that have linked our lives since before we met seven years ago (and apparently, since before we were even born!). We all enjoyed watching the dads hit it off, especially when they started a game of “mine is colder than yours,” trying to decide whether Michigan or Colorado was colder and snowier. I’m not sure who won that one.

Community

I found two new communities to move in this year. The first is our new church home at Crossroads Tabernacle Church, a (somewhat) local branch of the ATC. I’ve missed being part of a church community for years. Back in Texas, we were members of a Unitarian church, and I enjoyed the services and the community of the church. When we moved to Michigan, the Unitarian churches up here just didn’t feel right. Finding out about Crossroads at the end of 2009 was a blessing. We have found a group of people who share our beliefs and who welcome our children. We’ve managed to make most of the rituals this year, and each one has been a wonderful experience, both spiritual and social. The biggest challenge with this community is distance. The church is over an hour away, and most of the folks who attend also live in that area. That makes it a big commitment for any ritual. So far, it has been worth it.

The other group I “found” was a Lansing homeschoolers group. I’ve been on their mailing list for a while, and had been to a couple of events with them. But this summer I was determined to get out more, and I went to every single park day, every week. Maybe I missed a couple, but not many. The kids and I got to spend time with the same families all summer long, making friends and learning about each other.

I would like to do more with the homeschool group in 2011. I had hoped to start attending some of the classes they do this fall, but it hasn’t worked out. I really need to get our home studies in better order before signing up for those. But I want to get back to attending more of the field trips. It seems like there is something every month, at least. The field trips and holiday parties are great for keeping in touch with our new friends through the cold winter months.

Make

I make lots of things. It’s my favorite part of life, from making mittens to making babies. As of right now, the most recent thing I made is a watch cap for Brenden for Yule (shhh, don’t tell!). This year I’ve been trying to make one thing for a present for each holiday and birthday for each immediate family member. This might have been easier if I hadn’t waited until September to think of it, with only a month until the October birthday rush and three months to Yule. Next year will be easier, once I get past February. But still, I’ve done fairly well this fall. I’ve got 3 items finished and waiting for Yule. I made 6 chemo caps for my mom. I got 2 items finished for the October birthdays. I have 3 items waiting to be finished for Yule, needing only fulling or blocking or seaming. I have 2 items almost finished for Yule, and one of those will need blocking. One more item not yet started, and I’ll be done for Yule. Yay!

Something I wish I had more time for is sewing. I don’t like sewing as much as I like knitting and crochet, so I tend to not make time for it. But although the process isn’t as gratifying, the end result certainly is. It is so wonderful to put on a nice item of clothing and have it FIT properly and look good. I want to do it more. I think this will get easier next year. In order to sew, it’s important that I not have a baby getting into things and climbing on me, and right now Kender still stays up late. Once he starts going to bed with the big kids, sometime this year, I’ll have the evenings completely child-free to work on…clothing for the children!