This has been a rough summer (and, here in Georgia, it’s going to feel like summer until October. Ugh). Aside from the oppressive heat, it’s always hard for me to be home with both my children. Well, let me qualify that: it’s hard toward the end, right before they go back to school, when it becomes abundantly clear that the three of us knocking around the same space has become unbearable. It happened last summer, and it will most likely happen next summer, too. It doesn’t make it easier in the moment, though.
My kids went back to school yesterday, and I breathed a giant sigh of relief. They did, too, because I’m sure they’d had enough of my cranky ass. The summer wasn’t all bad, of course, but a few things happened that made it more challenging. First, the air conditioning in my car is pretty much kaput, and we don’t have the money to fix it. So getting the kids into a hot car to go anywhere, even to the store, is a chore. Then our house air conditioning broke, and we don’t have the money to fix that, either. We’re getting by with a window unit and two portable air conditioners. It’s not ideal, but I’m not in danger of suffering a heat stroke.
But things really took a nose dive eight days ago when I began running a fever. Out of the blue, no other symptoms. I wasn’t all that worried that first night; it’s not uncommon for me to run a fever or 24 hours. It’s been that way since I was a kid.
By the third day of feeling miserable, I decided to go to the doctor. She ran my blood work and some other tests, all of which turned up nothing. She decided I had some kind of virus or infection and just needed to wait it out.
Wait it out. With two boys at whom who get along about as well as you can imagine an eleven-year-old getting along with a seven-year-old (which is not very well). Against the backdrop of no central air, no air in my vehicle, the kids fighting about every ten minutes, and running a mysterious fever, I was trying to line things up for a part-time, online teaching job. And keep the house relatively clean, make meals, and not lose my mind.
I felt like I was, for a while, especially this past week. It all came to a head when I was clearing out the kids’ room to make space for bunk beds. I was moving box springs down the stairs–or attempting to–when it slipped, careened down the stairs, and knocked out one of the windows in the downstairs bathroom door.
That was it; something inside me snapped. When I realized not only had I busted out a window, but the box spring was now jammed between the window frame and the wall, I let loose a string of screams and curses so loud my throat hurt after. I finally managed to free the box spring and drag it outside. I apologized to the kids (they were a little freaked out by my meltdown) and then went to the kitchen.
I was so beaten down, exhausted, and defeated…I had no idea what to do. So I drank some water, slowed my breathing, and took a cold shower. I texted my wife and told her I was having a really hard time and begged her to come home immediately after work (which she did).
Self-care is difficult for me under ideal circumstances, but when I feel sick and it hurts to move–and when I know I have no choice but to keep moving–taking take for myself all but vanishes. But my body and mind keep score; if I don’t have enough time alone to decompress, my eyes will pop open at 3:00 AM, and I’ll go downstairs for a few hours, just to have that precious time. It’s not ideal, but it works (especially if I really can’t sleep because of a fever).
GAH! I’m grateful my fever is gone (as of today, last night was rough) and the kids and I have some much needed space from each other. I’m taking it easy today, catching up on the things I didn’t have the strength or interest to do when I was sick: I’m writing a little bit and working on music…and updating this often-neglected blog.
Thanks for reading. Happy sober Friday.