Monday, June 5, 2017

My Favorite Son

Good morning.

I don't trust myself today so this will be brief. I'm in a dark place so this won't be lighthearted or funny. Maybe dark isn't the best word; I'm in a dim place. I'm tired & frustrated & haven't been self-regulating well lately & all of this, coupled with the daily stresses, is weighing on me. 

I began several blogs on a variety of topics, including the recently released Wonder Woman & combatting terrorism (these were two separate, unrelated blogs . . . though at this point suiting up Gal Gadot is about as good a strategy for combatting terrorism as anything else that's been suggested). A few paragraphs in, all my attempts at a coherent, mildly interesting blog floundered, unraveling into long & preachy rants that I didn't even want to reread to check for errors. So, I stepped away from the computer, though, for a variety of reasons, I should've done it sooner. 

In the absence of the strict schedule on which the children & I operated during the school year, I am making some poor choices. Almost every night last week, I waited out the kids . . . whose bedtime is sadly creeping close to ten o'clock because, as I've mentioned, I'm falling apart. Once the kids were asleep, I made coffee (caffeinated coffee), grabbed some ice cream, & settled in the bed. I am not even an ice cream person; it's usually something from which I can walk away. I'd sip my coffee, eat my ice cream, spend way too much time reading & brooding over the endless stream of terrible, horrifying news available online, & then read some fiction until around two in the morning. 

Several things about my confession in the above paragraph may alarm you, but the two that have got to go are the ice cream & the news; the former is devastating to my thighs, while the latter is, I'm discovering, altering my mood - my outlook on life - in an unfortunate way. I didn't have time to obsess over much of anything during the school year, & while I enjoy drinking coffee late at night & reading fiction into the wee hours of the morning, having so much flexibility in your schedule has its pitfalls; I've been reminded of those this past week as I watch the world seemingly fall apart via my MacBook. 

In addition to news of terrorism & murder & countless other ways humans brutalize other humans, the Internet is a minefield for a parent. Facebook in particular is rife with shared articles about every last thing under the sun that might possibly harm a child, from a family friend who turns out to be a  child molester to a tick bite that can cause irreparable damage - & these are just the things that keep you up at night if your children are otherwise perfectly healthy.

Because of Reagan's diabetes, I follow several individuals as well as several group pages whose purpose is to support & inform diabetics & their caregivers. I want to learn things that will help me help Reagan, & many of the people I've reached out to online have been a tremendous help these last few years. However, I usually avoid articles about the complications of diabetes, even articles about how best to prevent complications. It's not rocket science anyway; you try & keep her numbers in check. It's trial & error. It's constant, & it's exhausting, & it's sometimes terrifying. I didn't have the time or energy to be terrified often during the school year, & in that regard, I am ready for August. 

I made a mistake yesterday & clicked on & read most of a diabetes-related article that was shared on Facebook & it has rocked me. This article, which I read on the heels of a Saturday night spent with a tub of Ben & Jerry's & way, way too much time on Twitter & various other websites saturated with the breaking news of another attack in London, has left me shaken, sad, & reevaluating the things to which I expose my mind. 

What I want to say today is not that I am leaving Facebook forever, or leaving the Internet forever. I am, after all, enrolled in an online class at present, & I have a book to be published & publishers sort of encourage you to not swear off the Internet forever when you use it to communicate with them as well as attempt to persuade people to buy the book you wrote. What I want to say is that in two short weeks, I've learned, or maybe been reminded of, some things about myself. I have to do a better job of regulating not only the time I spend online, but what I consume when I am online. That's the crux of being an adult: regulating your own behavior when you're thirty-six & no one else (save the government in some instances) is looking over your shoulder. Just because you can sit in bed for several hours at night eating ice cream, mired in the news, doesn't mean you should.

As is the case with all technology, the technology itself is not inherently good or evil, but rather our use of it makes it so. Today I want to tell you what I love about the Internet: the footprints it allows me to leave.

June 5 fell on a Wednesday in 2013. I ate dinner at the Warehouse that night; I had salmon & jalapeƱo cheese grits. I finished dinner around six thirty. Eight hours later, my son was born. His whole existence is chronicled on this blog, beginning with this announcement that I was pregnant (complete with a fun story about taking a pregnancy test in the bathroom at Delta Community College), this post which served as the equivalent of a gender reveal party for me & Trey, two people who like to sit on the couch & not throw parties, to this post which chronicles in detail Henry's rapid entry into the world. 

There are other Henry-centric posts, obviously, but I won't link to them all. Just thinking about the early months of my pregnancy with him makes me queasy. I was nauseated all the time for about four months; I gagged & even vomited pretty regularly. Those of you who've been here from the beginning may recall the psychological trauma that plagued me during the time I didn't want to drink coffee. 

I'll start with some belly shots. I can deal with them now that I've lost all the weight, though my back hurts just looking at this. 

This was taken June 1 of 2013. Yeah I know; I was enormous. 

1st birthday:

2nd birthday . . . which was spent at the beach:

3rd birthday:

This past year students would sometimes joke about favoritism. Every teacher has favorites, & if they claim otherwise they're lying. Students are people, & teachers are people, & just because you're in a classroom setting the things that influence human relationships elsewhere (like personality, rapport, etc.) don't disappear. Don't get me wrong; I care about all of them, but there's admittedly a hierarchy when it comes to who would get a kidney if needed. 

A student once asked me if I have a favorite child (if you want to do some introspective thinking, hang out with teens because they will ask you basically anything). I immediately & emphatically said No. It occurs to me that I could answer the question of favorites the same, whether regarding my kids or my students. Certainly there are some students with whom I grew, & with whom I remain, close, but even among them, as is the case with my son & my daughter, the terms more or less are inaccurate to describe my affections. I think differently is a better word. I love my son differently than I love my daughter; they need different things from me, & so it goes with students.  

I expend a lot of energy on Reagan; as he grows, I know Henry will understand that, intellectually, but there's a lot of literature out there about diabetic families, because there is no member of a family it doesn't touch. I've been thinking about Henry's place in our family. I've obviously been in my head a good bit over this past weekend. I intended to tell you more about last week's book club meeting (& about the book we read during May) & about my brand new, straight-from-1929 A Farewell to Arms, but that didn't happen, & that's okay. Maybe next week. I'm in the trenches with myself right now, waging war with my thoughts, which feed everything: my actions, my attitude, my ice cream consumption, etc. 

What has lightened my heart considerably is rereading what I've written about Henry's life. Happy Birthday, Henry; I look forward to celebrating you tomorrow. The four years since your birth have been lively. I love having your perfect smile & bright eyes & infectious laugh in my life. I love that you always want me by your side. I'm so glad you're my son. I love you. 


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