I have to say, I have cruised into these last few weeks of school an absolutely bedraggled, exhausted mess.
Back in September, I posted a cute picture to Instagram of Olive’s little stainless steel lunchbox, tidily packed with mini croissant sandwiches and neatly cut fruit and veggies. My ex-brother-in-law, Chuck, father of four, commented wryly, “Remember this post and show us a picture of the lunch you pack on the Friday before the end of school”.
Well, Chuck, I would like to tell you that here we are, the last Friday before the end of school and oh my god I would never share the lunches I’ve been packing lately. NEVER.
One morning a few weeks ago I actually found myself frantically smashing stale popcorn and beef jerky crumbs into the top of her lunch kit – last week I upped the ante by just forgetting to send a lunch entirely (Olive proclaimed it the best day ever because one of her teachers gave her a lunch and even shared a scone with her. Bless you, teachers. I don’t know how you do it.)
Olive leaves to her dads for the summer on July 4 and I haven’t even gotten to the point where I can feel sad or wistful or worried about how much I’ll miss her because I am positively drooling at the idea of being able to go to sleep without having to convince another person to go to sleep first. Or not having to prepare eighteen meals a day for someone with both an insatiable appetite and a distinct aversion to eating at mealtimes – not to mention a relentless inability to just sit properly with their bum in their seat, please!
I’m also somewhat flummoxed because I realize that in the grand scheme of things I’m incredibly fortunate to have the kind of situation that I do. I only have one child and a job which is completely flexible, in which I make my own hours and work when I want to. I’m also surrounded by a loving family and a supportive partner and basically just all the privilege a single parent could have. But oh lort, I am just done.
The past ten months have felt just so full on – full-time work and full-time single parenting, trying to stay on top of workouts and meals and homework and extra-curriculars, and trying to also find time to mash a social life and some sleep in there too. I mean, it’s a lot. I saw this meme last week and felt personally attacked by how on-point it was.
Also – speaking of headaches, I promised I’d give an update about the Botox I’ve been getting for my migraines, and I haven’t done that yet because truthfully, I’m really not sure what to say about it. I haven’t noticed a huge improvement in the frequency of migraines – I still get them 10-15 times a month – but I think they may be slightly less intense and painful than they were pre-treatment? Maybe?
My stress levels have increased steadily over the past few months as my work’s gotten busier and my kidney stuff is weighing a little more heavily lately too, so with so many factors in the game, it’s really hard to say how helpful it’s been.
I’ve only had two treatments so far and I’m going to commit to doing two more to see if things ease up during the summer when my stress load is lighter and I’m able to take care of myself better because I’m not taking care of someone else.
Anyway! Despite the distinct limping-toward-the-finish-line, running-on-empty feeling of life lately, I’ve been trying to relish it. It’s full to bursting and I’m trying to keep a sense of perspective and appreciate it for what it is. I’ve been through this process enough times to know that by mid-July I’ll be absolutely aching for Olive’s unique brand of chaos – her strange creations, her wild imagination, the craft supplies strewn around my living room and wild hair in the morning as she sits sleepy-eyed, munching cereal.
I think that’s been the main struggle since her dad moved across the country – my time with her always feels like all or nothing. It’s either four or five straight months of bedtimes and lunches and talking and extra-curricular activities with no break at all, or it’s weeks on end of absence and silence and stillness. I wish I could sprinkle these childless summer weeks throughout the year, one a month, and use them to recharge a little at a time instead of careening wildly between overwhelmed and empty-handed.
I’m definitely a textbook introvert, and having a child who is so talkative and energetic and enthusiastic is a wonderful thing but I do also find it tough to balance Olive’s need for interaction with the headspace I need, the silence and alone time I require to make sense of my own thoughts and sort through this feeling of being so scattered and at loose ends.
She really is a wonder, though. She’s gotten more animal crazy – if that’s even possible – and has absolutely blown me away with how well she’s done during this first year of real school. Her teacher has such positive things to say about her kindness and curiosity, her wonderful independent mind.
She’s been a good big cousin to my sister’s baby, a great friend to her little buddies, and though there have been bumps and course corrections and phases where we struggle, she always comes back to herself wiser and having learned something. She’s still hanging on to all of her teeth and hasn’t lost a single one yet – looks like her plans to catch the tooth fairy might have to wait a little while longer!
As we edge into these last few days of school I’m trying to plan some space with her, just us. No school, no rushing, no alarms, no errands, no work. Just a few days where we can be with each other and reconnect and prepare for her absence this summer. Only three more school lunches, three more mad dashes to avoid being late.
Good luck, fellow parents! We’re so close!