This blog is for Jim Marventano's family and friends to review his status and updates while he goes through treatment for Stage IV Colon Cancer. We can beat it together!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rejuvenation is short-lived

I had a great week this week.

My Dad and I took off on Tuesday morning for a three day retreat. We took lots of walks, talked, read, meditated, and ate all vegetarian meals. It was great. My Mom was kind enough to watch the kids while we got to go have fun and refresh our spirits. We got back late on Thursday, and my folks left on Friday afternoon.

I am already burned out.

We didn't have a plan for the day, but I did have to get a few things at Wal-Mart. We weren't in the store 10 minutes before Jake started misbehaving. He's going through a really bad hitting phase. We finally made it through our Wal-Mart fiasco (not without a healthy measure of embarrassment on my part), and rolled back home for a mediocre lunch and naptime.

The kids were restless so I thought I would take them for a walk and to the park. It's windy here, but it was sunny, so I figured it would be good to get out and get some fresh air. I asked Rachel to ride her bike. She refused, and told me she wanted to ride in our double-stroller. I told her it wasn't a good idea because Jake is hitting and I didn't want them fighting. She assured me it would be fine. (Um, duh, Kate - and you listened?) So, armed with assurance from a 4-year-old that they wouldn't fight, we headed out.

We didn't even make it to the corner before the fighting began. We made it another 1/2 block before they were screaming at each other and letting fists fly. I went beserk and whopped them both on the head (twice!) through the cover of the bike trailer. (It converts to a stroller). This, of course, outside the local Catholic church where the entire congregation is filing in for evening mass. I made it another 1/2 block, still in full view of the church, with both of them screaming because I whapped them, when they started hitting each other again. I went beserk again and yelled at them to stop. This time I garnered a dirty look from a woman getting out of her Mercedes. I must have looked so trashy, but I am just exhausted.

So instead of taking them for a walk, I walked them straight to the park and let them run around to burn off some of their angry energy. Jake found the biggest puddle in the park and proceeded to slog through it, soaking his shoes and socks. I dragged Jake out of the puddle, put them on the jungle gym thing, sat down on a bench and cried. I haven't cried like that in quite a while.

No matter how much help I get, no matter how many breaks I take, it's not enough. And I realize this because this is my permanent life. I can never go for a run/walk or go to the grocery store alone unless my folks are here or I hire a sitter. I think what drains me is the knowledge that this is it. This is where I am. It's not what other people have. I can't just say "Honey, can you watch the kids? I need to run out for a gallon of milk and some mascara." I have to pack up two little people, get a cart because I can't have them running around, and hope that we can make it through (walking rather fast) without some kind of a scene. I have to run or walk hoping that they'll get along. Even if it's just Jake (sometimes I walk while Rachel's at school), the fact of the matter remains that he can only stay in the stroller for so long before throwing a fit.

That is the drain. The realization that my life is not a break with a few intermittent hard times. It's a constant hard time with a few intermittent breaks.

The kids are just being kids. That's what they do. And I realize that there are a lot of other people who have it just as hard, if not harder than me. Just when you think your own personal drama is the worst, you realize that there's someone out there who truly does have it harder than you.

But today, I would have given anyone a run for the white-trash award. I'm sure the church on the corner is abuzz with the news of an abusive Kohler mother.

Which goes back to my thing: they have no idea who I am or what's going on with me. You would never know by looking at me that I'm a 35-year-old widow who lost my husband to cancer. You would never know the sorrow that is my every day life. You'd never know that even before noon today I was fed up with my kids hitting each other. You'd just look at me and think "That woman needs to settle down!" (Actually, re-reading this paragraph, I don't think anyone would even guess that I'm 35. I look terrible. Some woman in Chicago asked my mom and I if we were sisters. I got off the elevator near tears. My mom tried to calm me down by saying "well maybe she just thought I looked young..." 55? Young like 50? Young like 45? Because that's really still a stretch for us to be sisters. Which means that I look at least 10 years older than I am.)

Anyway, back to the point. Take mercy on those of us who are screaming at our kids at inopportune times. You never know what our life circumstance is or how we got to be screaming at our kids in a bike trailer while they wail and smack each other outside the corner church.

Rejuvenation is short-lived. I am thankful that I have the support of family and a wonderful community to lift me up and give me a break - even if I know that at the end of a lovely run all by myself, I'll still have to go home and restart my responsibilities.

Sorrow is my every day life. The kids will stop hitting each other eventually. I'll get to go for runs and to the store on my own eventually. But this nagging sorrow never leaves and it never lets me rest.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cereal for dinner - again?

Sometimes I'm so confused by my choices. I started a goal setting group a few months ago, but then cancelled the meeting last night because I wanted to watch The Bachelor. (Sad, I know.) Today was another tough day of moping and low-lows. So low, in fact, that I had cereal for dinner again. My kids had only slightly better - grilled cheese, yogurt and broccoli. I just couldn't muster the gumption to fix more than that.

So then I wonder - if I'm feeling like this, why didn't I follow through with my goal setting meeting last night? It would have really recharged me. Instead I watched a bunch of floozies bawl over a guy they don't really care about in a false scenario that's supposed to set them up for love. Huh?

Where's the logic?

I have a few goals I'm working on, but I've sort of let them drop off the radar for awhile. And you know how it is...when one thing starts to's a pretty muddy slope as everything seems to pull down with the original slider. I've bristled against this kind of erosion for months, but now I'm sort of at a place where I need help working my way back up the slope.

I figure cereal for dinner is okay until I'm recharged and ready to push forward. It's just a matter of finding what's going to revive me this time.

I wonder how long my life will feel this way. The other night I was filled with anger at Jim for leaving me. Clearly he didn't have a choice, but the fact remains that it's just me here. I'm just sitting here on Friday and Saturday nights. I don't want to go out, but I don't want to stay in. I don't want to do anything with anyone except Jim. I don't want to be alone but I don't want to be with anyone.

The breaks I get are wonderful, but there's a little period of mourning after each of those. The realization that I have to go back to my "normal" life. The realization that the help I had is gone. Exhaustion sets in and I realize that I'm dragging and letting things go that at one time would have been important to me.

I need to ratchet my life back up and start working on things that make me happy. Cereal for dinner - again - is no way to live.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

10,000 Maniacs

I've been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster the last few days - elated because the weather is warmer, depressed because it's a new season without Jim. After Jim passed away, it just seemed like we rolled right into winter. We had a beautiful fall, but as far as I was concerned, it was basically winter. So the coming of spring makes me happy - to see a little thawing, robins in the yard, and hearing kids play outdoors. But those things also remind me that Jim won't be here this spring. He loved the sound of kids playing in the yards - the screams and calls and giggling. Spring to me meant Jim out grilling food on our patio. I love the smell of a grill. It means summer.

Last night was a low point. I was just...sad.

Today, during one of my manic high points, the kids and I were listening to The Rolling Stones - loud - in the car. And I got to thinking about my 30th birthday when we went to see The Rolling Stones in concert. I was worried that if we didn't see them at that point they'd stop touring and I'd never get to see them. Ha! We had a great time seeing The Stones. I screamed my head off. We paid a fortune for our seats, and I swear to God, the seats were so high and far away that we were ABOVE the foul pole at Turner Field. Jim was terrified at that height. It was one of the best concerts I've ever seen.

Then I got to thinking about how we've been to a lot of concerts. Boy did we do some fun things together. And I started compiling a mental list:
10,000 Maniacs - we went on our second date, and we already knew something was different between us
Rusted Root
Tori Amos
Vonda Shepherd
The The/Macha
Barenaked Ladies
Rascal Flatts/Toby Keith
Gypsy Kings (we went multiple times - it was a fun summer event)
Toby Keith, again
No Doubt/The Rolling Stones

We also saw a number of things in the theater together, including:
Phantom of the Opera - twice
Tommy - The Who
Tap Dogs
Rent (yuck!)
Miss Saigon
Jeff Foxworthy/Larry the Cable Guy/Blue Collar Tour - hilarious

I know there are others, but...of course I can't think of them right now. I'd never even heard of 10,000 Maniacs when we went to see them. He insisted I'd know their music when I heard them, but...I didn't. I'm a Led Zeppelin girl. He'd never been to a major theatrical production before Phantom. And we had such fun that we went on to see many more.

That's a pretty good rate - 16 totally different kinds of productions in 12 years. Although, admittedly, 10,000 Maniacs and Rusted Root were in the two years before we got married, so actually it was 16 productions in 14 years. And I don't count the ones that we saw separately.

Remembering things like that makes me feel good. It reminds me that we really didn't waste the time. If we saw things on an average of once a year, that's pretty good, assuming that we did other things in the meantime, which we did.

I guess right now I'm needing to feel that we didn't waste the time - I need that kind of validation. And that's what makes me feel better about losing him when he was just so darn young. We rarely said "well, let's put that off because we can do it later" - thank heavens we didn't. We didn't get to later. We got to now and we packed some fun adventures in before now arrived.