An unleashing update

Hello! It has been a minute. I don’t know if anyone is still reading this blog, but if you are, I say hi, thank you for reading. I feel compelled to apologize for being MIA in terms of posts and especially in terms of comments on your blogs, if you’re a blogger, too. I do read blogs in my WordPress reader (not as regularly as I used to) but I very rarely check my Blogger reader because it requires signing into a separate email account, is not easy to do from my phone, etc. God, that’s lame. But it’s the truth. I’ve missed your stories, Blogger bloggers. WordPress bloggers, I rarely can think of anything great to say, in terms of comments, so I just read it, “like” it with a star icon.

I haven’t been writing in here because of fatigue, time, toddlerhood, and two moves in row.

I feel, at times, a level of fatigue I can only describe as crushing.

Things are about to change. I can sense the beginning of the shift. I am putting things in motion to regain my sense of selfhood and my mental and physical health.

My face hurts, I am so tired. My back hurts. My limbs hurt. I have insomnia often. I collapse in a heap and fall of a cliff into sleep often. I have trouble thinking clearly. I am not the greatest conversationalist because I can’t find words.

All this said, I know that I’ve just been through a lot and I have to cut myself some slack. Two moves in a row with a budding toddler (NINETEEN MONTHS OLD NOW!) is effing insane. And I am only now really starting to pull all of my resources together…

These are things I must take advantage of as soon as possible in our new city: Daycare. Community Center. Exercise at community center with free child care. Mommy’s Helpers. Library programs. Mom groups. Set up playdates with  new friends. Writing, writing, writing during daycare hours (about three hours per day/two days a week). Continuing ed for SW license during those same hours. Research what you have to do to practice in PA. Start the search for part-time jobs, even though it’s far away.

Write fiction. Submit fiction. Do it for yourself. It matters. It creates meaning for you. Don’t treat it like it’s a luxury.

Carving out a shelf of selfhood. Taking care of mind and body. Cutting yourself some slack for needing time to work out how to find and utilize all the resources in a brand new environment.


I was running for a while, before the second move. I would come back from a run (most runs) feeling high, feeling better than I had in ages, and the thought would be: Aerobic exercise is not optional.

The first problem is fatigue. Usually I am so tired that when I have a moment, I collapse. I go still and quiet. I try to zone out and not move, or I fall asleep.

The other, and related, problem is time. I try to get up early to exercise first thing, but I have become even more tired in those wee hours than ever before, and then there are the wild-card mornings when S gets up earlier than usual, and my plans are derailed. I try to exercise after he goes to bed, but that’s even less possible because of an even greater level of fatigue than in the morning. The only solution is the Community Center, where they will watch S while I go to class or do some sort of exercise on my own for 1.5 hours.

It can and will happen. I just have to take a deep breath and be patient. I’ll make it happen at some point this week. (I only discovered this resource last week.)

I have been irritable. Snappish. Sore. DH and I are fighting more. My patience is threadbare. All of this is due to lack of self-care.

The move went smoothly except for two things. The first is this: MIL. Long-time readers, you know her well. I thought things were going to be better, they seemed like they were on an upswing, but that was perhaps foolish of me. I gave it my best. But at this point, I think I might have to go the route of her other daughter-in-law and protect myself with rigid and high boundaries. It makes me sad. But I have to accept the situation. Perhaps it will change—ugh, I just typed the words I need to stop saying. It probably won’t change. It won’t. I need to learn the lesson once and for all not to let her in. She is unpredictable, pushy, contrary, disrespectful, superior, victimized, hot-cold, and just not consistently “in my corner,” so to speak. I don’t think she knows how to consistently love. I think she lives in a state of mind in which she is wronged always and she is looking for that. And although I realize this is armchair psychology at its worse, I think it’s true: I believe that on a deep-down level, she would rather be the one married to her son (and to her other son). There! I said it.

Long story short: She helped us with the move by watching S. I flew with her and S from LI to PA (while DH drove). Many things happened. Her treatment of me was not good. I lost my patience twice, as I honestly believe any human being would have done in my shoes. She booked an earlier flight home and said that I ruined her time with us and S. She wrote an email that was so filled with revision of facts, demonizing portraits, and victimization that I thought, “Oh. OH. She is actually not mentally healthy at all.” It all caused an enormous amount of stress during an already extremely stressful time, and the lasting effect—well, I feel that we are still feeling the reverberations. It did a number on my relationship with DH, but he did what he should have done years ago and wrote to her an email in which he defended me and tried to clear up what she claims is confusion about why I (and other people) get frustrated with her. I read his email but I have not asked how she responded, nor will I. It’s time to remove myself (yet again) from the toxicity.

Being with MIL triggered my anxiety in a major way. Why we thought it would be okay to have her watch S while we packed and moved (moving being already such an anxiety-provoking situation) I do not know. But we needed someone, and we couldn’t afford to pay someone. By the time we got to PA, I was so frazzled and exhausted, my stomach in knots, my mind buzzing, my chest tight. Classic anxiety. I wish I’d had some medication, but I didn’t. Now I know that it is a good idea to have anxiety medication, just in case. For those fraught times. I wonder if a doctor would agree to that—to give me a prescription just for those once-in-a-while peak moments, which might come every few months? I definitely don’t want to take it daily. But I wish I’d had something then, I really do.

After she left, DH went through a period of mourning. He cried. He thinks the situation is very sad, because his mom has always had so many problems with driving people crazy—him, his brother, his brother’s wife, his dad, her friends. Once, he told me, his beloved high school English teacher ran into his mom somewhere, and the next day in school, she asked DH: “What is up with your mom?” It was one of his first moments of truth about his mom. Once when he was a kid, his mom went on a trip, and when she came back, she asked his dad how things were while she was gone. His dad took her by the shoulders and very pointedly and somberly said: “Peaceful. It was so peaceful.” And she was furious with him for a very long time. He said that was another time he realized how objectively difficult she is.

After that fiasco with the MIL, I had to deal with our landlords—who also happen to be Asian. An older Asian couple. I’ll call the woman L and the man J. It doesn’t take formal analysis for me to understand that the woman’s incredibly frustrating communication triggered all the recent stuff with MIL. Also, the previous tenants hated these landlords and advised us to not ask for anything or interact with them much–we still wanted the place because it is so awesome and for relatively inexpensive rent. In any case, warnings from previous tenants aside, I thought things were going well. L was annoying, but it seemed she was responsive. At least at first. The big problem came when there was an issue with the gas, and the stove, and the sunporch windowsills, which were a mess, and which little S was getting into (splintered, rotten wood, paint chips, fingers, mouth, you get the picture). The first issue was vital because it involved the gas line—not something to mess around with. The second issue was also very important to us because it so clearly involved S’s health. After an enormous struggle, we resolved the first issue. But the windowsills—that was a bigger struggle. Communication was so difficult. Language barrier, yes, but also that communication style and positioning so familiar to me from my MIL. In the end, the windowsills were scraped, filled in, and repainted, a job they had promised to do and that took no longer than two hours but took a month of infuriating communication and power-struggling to actually get done. We will do everything else that needs done ourselves from now on, if we can (which I’m sure was the whole point of the struggle).

All this said: the house is lovely. The neighborhood is lovely and filled with families and children. We love our sunny sunporch. We love our giant, flat back yard. We love our big bay window. The trees all around. It feels like a summer cottage. It feels like a home. (Mostly. It is still rather institutional, in terms of the bare, white walls, but we will have to decorate slowly, due to budget concerns.)

S loves it there. He runs with abandon. He runs naked through the back yard, going for dips in the kiddie pool, pushing his red wagon all over the place. “Go, Hercules!” we call after him. He plays with his big trainset on the sunporch, the one that’s been in my family for over twenty years. The trains are his hobby, his passion. Trains and cars. He giggles, pointing out the windows at the squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, and the wild turkeys. We have five wild turkeys who frequent our yard, along with five little fuzzy baby turkeys.

S shrugs his shoulders up and down to imitate the squirrels. He thrusts his head forward and back to imitate the turkeys.

The evenings—dinner, playing in the yard, running, pool, sandbox, ice cream—are absolutely sweet and pure and good. We laugh so hard. S will get so overcome with joy and go, “Mamadada!!!!” He’ll spontaneously blow us kisses or kiss us on the lips or thrust out his finger to do the Starman Handshake. “I la oo!” he still shouts out, for “I love you.”

Because throughout all of the changes, all of the adult concerns, the anxieties and stresses, he is there, this small Starchild, looking at everything in wonder. He points. He talks. He wants to see and say everything. He starts “working” the second he wakes up–pointing, commenting, touching, smelling, watching, bellowing, laughing.  Doing.

We’ve already made new friends. I left a city park one Sunday morning (one of those free music fests) with four new phone numbers and offers of playdates. And then there is sweet R, shy little girl, and her mama, whom we’ve seen the most. We’ve gone to the toy library with them (yes, a place where kids can play with all variety of toys together and also check out toys like library books, volunteer-run for 40 years) and to a Music Together class that is amazing, and over to their house for lunch. He holds R’s hand and swings it. He laughs at her jokes (she likes to point at him and call him “Buh-buh”). He is so friendly. He seeks out and finds R’s hand and her mama’s hand when we leave so he can shake their hands and say, “Bye-bye!”

He sings and sways and plays instruments in his music class. He pumps his arms like Arsenio Hall or he does very expressive free-form circles with his arms, thowing back his head. He hangs back on my lap and safely observes. He runs into the center of the circle and grins around. He runs over to the chalkboard to where there are Christmas lights and, with the other children, he “blows out” the lights. The “O” of wonder on his sweet little face.

He and I are so bonded. It’s like nothing I have ever known. It really does grow deeper with each day, as the adages go. There are so many inside jokes, at this point. Many established routines that we love. Many ways we know how to make the other feel loved.

There is the brand new riverside park with totally amazing playgrounds, hiking-distance away. The zoo. The aviary. The museum. The nature trails. The free park festivities on Friday nights and Sunday mornings. Folk music. Ragtime music. Belly-dancing. Circus. The pool right on the river. So much of it free.

Right now we are at my parents’ house, having taken advantage for the very first time of the (relatively) short distance between our homes. Hard to express how moving it is to see him running and playing with my cousin’s boys, with his beloved Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw, my aunt and uncle and cousins. He entertains them all with his gorgeous singing. He loves for everyone to have a different instrument and “jam.” His piano-playing is just unbelievable to me. It’s so pretty and musical. And he sings along, in key! Wow. He can hear a tune once and remember it—later, we’ll hear him “la-la-ing” to every note.

There are days when I say, “Agh, I can’t do even one more thing! This is the end of all thing-doing!” Because of three meals a day, the endless cooking and cleaning up. Because of all the nitty-gritty of caretaking. The lack of space to think a thought. The runs to the doctor for unexpected emergencies, because of hand-foot-mouth disease and tick bites and burns and fevers. Because dressing a toddler for the day or for bed is like trying to dress a very strong feral cat. Mama’s back burns. Mama’s eyes burn. I yearn for The Good Wife and the papason. But about an hour after he is asleep I miss him and yearn to hold him and can’t wait to see his funny little smile in the morning. To lean on his feet as he gives me an airplane ride. To hear him exclaim with delight and belly laugh and show me how truly stunning the world actually is.

I’d better go now, but it has felt good to unleash! Everyone take care out there. I’m going to start the self-care up on this end as soon as we reach home.




Leave a comment


  1. Oh girl, so nice to see a post from you. And this week since I am off I have the time and energy to comment! Some people are just toxic. It’s just so sad that they cause problems for those around him. You did what you had to do by asking your MIL to help. Now you know what that looked like and hopefully you won’t need her help anymore in the future once you have totally settled in your routine and new life there. Aside from the landlord situation, it sounds like a great place for S to grow up. I hope that along with your routine comes time and space to get less and less tired and more and more time to rest, for the aches and pains to go away, and for insomnia to say good bye. Love to you and always love seeing your update. <3

  2. m

     /  July 25, 2016

    First time commenting…I have read your blogs for a few years and have missed your writing, glad to see this new post. If it makes you feel better my MIL lives on my block! ugh!

  3. I am so sorry about how everything turned out with your MIL. Toxic is absolutely the right word. When your own husband admits to you that life is peaceful with you away, you’d think you’d reflect on your behavior, but perhaps change just isn’t in the works. So removing her influence on you and your family is the right thing, even if it’s the hardest thing. Wow, two moves with a toddler is A LOT. Also, 19 months??? How can that be??? Amazing how time flies. I’m glad you unleashed, and I’m glad to see a post from you! I hope that you can settle into your new space and find time for that ever important self-care.

  4. I think once you both understand your MIL is “mentally ill” or has some sort of personality disorder(whether that’s clinically true or not) I think it makes it easier to see her behaviour objectively. If she has no insight into her life, I don’t think explaining things to her would be of much benefit to her. Instead, reframing your relationship is the oniy thing you can control. It is sad, though. Your life with your todder sounds like very much like mine when my son was that age. On one hand of how much you love your fun times and the other hand realizing you are exhausted and need a mental break.


Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: