This post will probably sound like a bitch-fest and, quite frankly, I’m okay with that. I’ve been feeling very depressed lately, similar to how I felt over the summer. While I do suffer from clinical depression, this is something in addition to that.
I love my kids more than anything on this planet. I would do anything I could to help them grow into kind, interdependent, and peaceful men. Part of that is having a parent at-home with them and homeschooling. We also practice non-violent parenting (or at least try – we never hit our kids, but we do struggle to not yell or revert to punishments… it’s a learning process, for sure). When Bug was born (he’s almost 10), I was home with him all the time. Dave was working, I stayed home. I got a little stir-crazy sometimes; I would talk Dave’s ear off when he’d get home because he was the only adult I talked to most days. Bug nursed a lot, for a long time (he was 3.5 when he weaned himself), so I often got “touched-out,” but that was the extent of it. I was able to take him out to stores, play dates, to visit family, and so on. When Gus was born (he’s almost 2), things were different. Dave and I had gone back to school, Bug was fairly independent (as much as a child can be), and I had an idea of the world beyond my child. Gus was a surprise, to begin with. I was thrilled and terrified. The pregnancy was riddled with complications: a confirmed miscarriage, which was later found to be mistaken, spotting, pain, contractions, bedrest. He was a tough baby. I think that a lot of it stemmed from the way he was born (prematurely, in the hospital, with all that a hospital birth entails) and what happened to him in his early weeks (bili-lights that I knew were unnecessary, having his foot slashed open almost daily for blood work, having to pump milk to feed him from a bottle because he was so small, etc.). I had Reynoud’s Syndrome in my nipples and he was never a great nurser. He was done nursing entirely shortly after he turned one. I am still sad about that because in my perfect world, he would still be nursing.
Since then, things have gotten more complex, as they do with multiple children. Over the summer, as now, I was home 24/7 with the kids while Dave worked. I was so depressed. Currently, I’m trying to recover from mono (which isn’t happening super fast because I don’t have time to rest – I was supposed to be on as close to bed rest as possible) and dealing with the culmination of over two years of inactivity and pain. The pain in my back was so bad that I would be close to vomiting after going to the grocery store. I can’t bend down to pick things up, pick up my baby/toddler, walk, stand – it even got to the point where sitting and laying down were excruciating. I’ve gained a lot of weight, probably in part because I’m so inactive, but I’m finding it difficult to be physically comfortable in my body. (I refuse to get back on the diet rollercoaster because it’s bad for the body to yo-yo, which is what happens in 95% of cases. I am a firm believer in Health at Every Size and that body weight and/or health are nobody’s business, and surely aren’t moral issues, in so far as being fat or unhealthy –which do not always go hand in hand– are concerned.) I finally went to the doctor and she gave me a muscle relaxant and an order for physical therapy. I thought that I was getting better until I went to the grocery store the other day. I wore my TENS unit (electric stimulation) but even that didn’t stop the pain. I’m not used to being weak. I have always been strong, and now I struggle to lift things that shouldn’t be a problem. I am definitely better than when I started – the muscle spasms were unbelievably painful. However, I still can’t go anywhere with the kids because I can’t get Gus in or out of the car alone. I am stuck in the house, which is a mess beyond words (partly because I suck at housekeeping, partly because the pain is preventing me from getting on top of cleaning). The kids are loud; Bug talks ALL THE TIME — he narrates what he’s doing and tells stories all day. Gus is just a toddler and needs constant supervision. It would be better if we had more space, a clean house, and if I could leave. By the time Dave gets home from work, it’s after 5. We have to start dinner, which means that Dave has to do most of it. He stands on concrete for 8 hours a day. He deserves a break when he gets home. I deserve a break, too. But we don’t get them. Gus usually falls asleep by 8pm, but Bug won’t sleep. He is either scared to go to bed or fights about going. Dave and I don’t even get quiet or alone time at night, and I can’t remember the last time we went out together. By then, I’m too exhausted to enjoy it anyway. I am asleep before Bug comes to bed most nights. Either that, or I can’t sleep. During the days, I am so exhausted that it hurts; my body aches from tiredness.
During the days, I want to write. I want to think. I want to read. I haven’t read a book for pleasure since before Gus was born. I want to work on my paper, but I can’t. I need to have at least one eye on Gus all the time and I’m tired. I’m exhausted. Part of it is the mono, I know, part is my nutrition (I just don’t care about eating), and part of it is my depression. Another aspect is the apnea I’ve had all my life. I finally went for a sleep study but couldn’t sleep. I don’t breathe at night. I sometimes wake up gasping for air. Dave often wakes me because I stop breathing. (Gus does it, too, which scares the shit out of me.) I feel like a hypochondriac, but I’ve let my own health go for so long that it’s building up. I wish that I could go to the chiropractor, acupuncturist, and massage therapist, but I can’t afford that. As it stands, Medicaid only approved 12 PT sessions; I’ve already had 4.
Money is another constant drain. We have none. Zero. Dave is working full-time, but our bills are so high and we are so far behind. We get food stamps, thankfully, but everything else is out of our range. Even if I could find a job with my (hopefully temporary) disability, we would lose a lot of food stamps. It doesn’t make financial sense to bring in a little money, but lose a lot of assistance. The system is not set up to help people get out of poverty or off of assistance. We can’t even get HEAP this year because we owe them (social services) money. Being scared of a utility shut-off or not having enough food is terrible. I want to stop eating meat, but it’s too expensive to buy more produce and vegetarian food. I refuse to let my wants come before my kids’ needs. I get mad, too, that we don’t get to have tv. It’s the first thing that goes when money gets tight. Why shouldn’t we have entertainment? We worry so much and work so hard to get ahead, but we can’t even watch tv. We were using it for homeschooling, too. Several of the channels have program guides and curricula that have been very helpful to us. But we don’t deserve tv. We don’t pay for internet, thankfully, so at least we have that. Sometimes, though, I just want to sit in front of the tv to watch a mindless show. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.
We are supposed to move into our house in the Spring. However, there is so much work that needs to be done. We need a fridge and a new oven. The floors need to be refinished and we need to store furniture that’s already there. My mother doesn’t have the money because her tenant hasn’t paid her rent in months. We are in the process of evicting her, which we should have forced mom to do before. We tried, but she felt bad for the girl. We have great people ready to move into the other house (grandma’s), and they will help fix it up. I don’t know how to get these things done. Our entire tax return will be going to mom to pay the taxes on the house (she will still own it, we will rent it). I can’t move my kids into that house until it has been cleaned. And it needs a serious cleaning. It sat empty for several years, then a woman rented it for a few months before she had to be evicted. There were mice, which have now been taken care of, but there is mouse shit in cupboards. I am not cleaning that; that’s a job for a professional. I’m afraid of the utility bill there, but we could use the space. I can’t deny the fact that moving into the house where I grew up is really nice. It’s a gorgeous house, it’s just not the greatest neighborhood. However, the Italian couple across the street has been there since we moved in (they have lived there 36 years, we moved in about 3 years after that). One of my professors lives next door to the other house my mom owns, and hopefully people we know will be moving in to that house.
Of course, I feel guilty for thinking we need more space. This place would be okay if we had one more bedroom and a bit more storage space. As it is, we have a small bedroom and an even smaller room that is Bug’s space. It is really more like a tiny office. We don’t have room in our bedroom for a bed for Gus, which he will want soon. My guilt stems from the fact that other people have far less than we do; less money, less space (if any), less of everything. I am privileged in that my mother was able to buy her own house and is now passing that on to us. As poor as we are, we still benefit from white privilege more than any other privilege we have. I have a hard time finding a place of comfort in what I have, and I feel horrible when I wish for more. I don’t wish for a lot, just enough to pay our bills and live without fear, but that’s more than others have. I want more than anything to have enough money to help out other people who need it (and to rescue/adopt abused dogs). I know how it feels to live in such fear and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that. Except for those who would deny assistance to people or who feel that we are poor because we are lazy. How fucking lazy are those who inherit money? No, they may not be lazy, but they will never have to do backbreaking labor to only pay one or two of their many bills. Anyway, that could be a book in itself…
My Gus is napping, my Bug is playing in the other room. I’ve had the time to finish ranting here, for now. I’m very tired. My house is a mess. We need groceries. Our heat is about to be shut off. And all I can think about is the special Time Warner is running right now: $99.95/month for 12 months for digital cable (which usually costs that much on its own), Road Runner, and digital phone. I want my damned tv back.