There are a lot of things that preface the point of this post, so bear with me.
Everyone knows that I am a musician. We were gone this last time from September 26th to October 16th. Most months are like this. Sometimes they are longer; sometimes they are shorter. I have said it before, but I will say this for those who might have missed a post or two, I am also a registered nurse. When we come home, I spend the time we return to the time we leave out again working 12 hour shifts 3 days a week. I am also a wife and the step-mother to two girls, ages 12 and 14. To those of you who have already parented and survived the teen years, I need not say a word, but for those of you who have yet made it to that milestone, I will probably say some things that may leave you thinking about the words adoption and/or murder…
My life is super crazy and hectic, and I could just decide to tour all of the time and we could home school both kids and hit the road, but I have made a decision that nursing was a goal in my life and I plan on fulfilling it. So, I kill myself while I’m home doing something that I want to further myself in and want to become a full time career one day. (Tony and I have an agreement that as many years as I spend playing music with him, that’s the amount of time he has to commit to living in Africa with me while I nurse over there. He’s up to 4 years.) I work in an inpatient rehab facility in Muscle Shoals, AL. We have more stroke and hip fracture patients than anything, but occasionally a multiple trauma. My job can at times be very frustrating and stressful and sometimes it can be very easy going or rewarding. Take a stroke patient for instance…
A stroke can be one of two major complications: ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic is when a blood clot lodges in a vessel and the person loses blood supply to anywhere that vein/capillary travels thereafter. A hemorrhagic stroke is where a person’s blood pressure might be so high and uncontrolled that a blood vessel in their brain bursts and they bleed into that area of the brain, which puts pressure on the brain tissues and damages them. A stroke can happen in any area of the brain. Sometimes it might just effect, say, the cerebral area, other times it may effect more than one area, like the cerebral, parietal, and temporal lobes. How a person is affected by a stroke is completely different from the next person. One might walk away from it with a new respect for life, others might be flaccid, or paralyzed, on one side and need a feeding tube to be able to eat and need 24 hour nursing care to be able to live the rest of their life. Stay with me, here, I’m coming to my point. That point being, the area of the brain that the stroke effects can determine what the side effects are. Also, the left side from the right side can determine how a person is after a stroke. That is the frustrating and also rewarding parts of my job. There are some people that come in and they don’t know who they are, where they are, or what year it is, and they come in and they work hard and by the time they leave, they can walk with the help of a special walker and can feed themselves and lead relatively normal lives. But there are times, when the stroke effects that certain area of the brain that turns christian-living sweet old granny into a conniving, evil, cussing, hurtful woman, and she can’t help it, and she is now depressed and can’t make herself eat or get out of bed and all she does is get worse and she either dies or ends up in a nursing home. The frustrating part is that SHE CAN’T HELP IT! Now, there are some people that can, and just won’t and that’s sad too, but I see too often the listless eyes and the giving up. But…when you have a patient be continent for the first time after a stroke… We take for granted that little nudge our bladder gives us when we have to pee. Being continent for the first time after a stroke is something to high-five about! And I walk away from my patient’s room with tears of joy in my eyes almost every time. I can leave my job and know that because I worked with someone, I made a difference in their life.
Now, to being a mom and a wife… Recently, I have had difficulty with dealing with the pressures of being a mom and a wife. I get down on myself and wish sometimes that I could just disappear, because I feel like I’m so stressed out and angry and on edge that I’m making everyone around me miserable. And, in truth I really am. Being a mom to two teenaged girls is a battle against Satan, himself. In one week, there will be a day of crying at a drop of a hat, screaming until you’re sure child protective services will be called immediately, the “I don’t care” glaze-over, the days when everything I say is stupid, and then there will be times when they will love you to death! This is an emotional roller coaster not only for the child, but for the parents as well. Lately, I have been more and more frustrated to the point where sometimes I dread coming home. And I don’t feel bad about admitting that, because I heard a woman say that same thing today, so at least I know I’m not alone. It’s not because I hate them, or don’t love them. It’s because I’m scared of what mood I’m in and what mood they are in and that I will make a bad decision as a parent, or there will be fights or I’ll lose my temper. Then there’s being a wife. I stay just as frustrated with him as I do the kids. And I know he stays just as frustrated with me. I come in and nit-pick the house after work, or I make fun of him. I’m disrespectful to him in front of the kids, on top of a number of other things that I do because I carry around all this stress and let it build. Or, at least, that’s what I have been attributing it to. There have been days when I have lost all hope and just sat in my bed reading Psalms and crying my eyes out, and just praying that God keep me sane for one more day.
Two nights ago was one of those nights. Mary came in from being with a friend all day and it was two hours before bedtime and she tells me that she has an enormous project due the next day. I light her up. She screams at me, I threaten punishments, and finally I just walked out of the house and walked around the neighborhood for 30 minutes trying to cool down. Fights with Mary affect me more than fights with Alli, because Mary is me made over. Although she biologically isn’t mine, I could swear she came from me. Fighting with her reminds me of me and my dad fighting when I was a kid. I would be hurt by his words or just plain angry and dad would say things he didn’t mean. While I was walking, I remembered a book that my mom had bought me called Momsense by Jean Blackmer and I decided I would take it with me to work and read it. There are times when you feel like you are failing as a parent, and this is one of those times.
So, today, in my free time, I read Jean Blackmer’s book. And her words hit me like a ton of bricks. You see, I expect a lot out of the girls. I expect them to be respectful of each other and to be able to interact with other people the way people used to interact with each other before cell phones. I want to teach them how to take care of their own houses one day and how to take care of their husbands. I read today about patience and respect. Basically, Jean told me that when I am not patient with them, I am teaching them to be impatient people. When I am disrespectful to them or to their dad in front of them, I am teaching them to be disrespectful to others or to their spouses. I have worked so hard trying to make them decent human beings, and all this time I have been teaching them to be disrespectful and impatient. Two of the worst things you can be as an adult.
Now, after, what my computer tells me is over 1500 words, I come to my point. I am done teaching my kids to be impatient and disrespectful! I know that from here on out, there will be times when I will be impatient and disrespectful, but I’ll be danged if I don’t try my hardest from now on to be consciously aware of how my actions effect other people, especially my kids. Trying to be patient and respectful to them, will help me be patient and respectful to my husband, and then I’ll be that way to difficult patients that I have, and I feel like my life, and everyone that has to be around me, would be a lot less stressful and a lot happier if I just gave this a go. Yes, I have a lot going on in my life. Yes, there are stressful things that happen. But I have decided to take the time to check myself before I lose my cool and say things that I don’t mean or that serve no purpose, and if it becomes too much for me, there’s always a neighborhood to walk around, and hey, I’m burning calories doing it! Two for the price of one! So… Here’s to becoming a better me.