It’s been a really trying few weeks. I’ve been on the verge of tears multiple times, trying to keep my shit together for one reason or another. I’ve got to give my husband and parents credit too. My husband has been holding a lot on his shoulders, and my parents have helped co-parent when I needed them the most. But that doesn’t mean I’m not about to lose my shit multiple times a day.
I want to write a list of everything going on in my life. I want to write it all down and then hit “delete” so I can pretend it’s not there. If only it was that easy. But it’s not. I hate that phrase “life isn’t fair.” Life doesn’t have to be fair. There’s no rule book or guide on how to get through life. It’s your outlook and the way you handle things. It’s replacing “I have to” with “I get to.” It’s pointing out the good things when most everything is falling apart (even if it’s only a good hair day!).
I think it goes without saying that as the momma bear, I’m the President of most things Ainsley. I’m also President of most things dogs, and most things home care/chore related, minus the cooking (most days).
My husband owns his own business. He works really hard and it shows, but that also means he’s working a lot. It’s often just me and Ainsley. Thankfully she’s a kick-ass kid. I find myself taking that for granted a lot, but she truly is flexible and enjoyable.
Our life started to get more complicated a few months ago when our youngest (and biggest) dog, Alfie, got really sick, really fast. He’s had GI issues for a few years, but we’ve always chalked them up to that – GI issues. He’s been gassy and lots of other GI symptoms… you can use your imagination. He’s been on all the limited-ingredient diets out there over the last two years, but it just got really bad, really quick. We went on one last food trial for a few weeks, and then we heard the C word. Not that it was definite – but that would cost over $1,000 just to confirm. His body wasn’t holding any of the nutrients, he was losing weight and hair, his steroids were making his thirty and subsequently have to pee ALL THE TIME. This dog is already afraid of storms, and now with a full bladder at the height of summer storm season, you can imagine what I came home to every day. We had a method though, and were able to swap out his crate blankets daily to clean up messes. But sometimes we forgot to put him in his crate. And sometimes my husband would clean up during the day, but I’d come home later and see dog pee splattered on the wall. Last winter, this same poor dog had “happy tail,” which resulted in his tail bleeding almost daily from the amount of wagging/knocking things. Needless to say, after that, poor guy had his tail docked. He’s had a rough for few months. He’s still around, if you’re wondering. We decided to take him off this expensive fancy food and put him on semi-expensive but also yummy food. Why make him eat cardboard if he won’t be around for much longer? He’s still on meds and we’re just playing that day by day.
At the beginning of August, we took a few days off and went to Amelia Island, FL and then a few days in Disney World with my best friend and her family. It was much needed after a busy summer (and a total success for our first real family vacation!), but right before we left Adam found out he had to get wisdom teeth removed. He was in a lot of pain and his surgery wasn’t cheap.
After getting back, we decided life wasn’t busy enough, so let’s put in driveway in, re-do our spare room and move Adam’s office from the separate building out back to a spare room on our first floor. We love a fucking challenge, apparently. The driveway was something Adam’s wanted since we bought the house. The spare room was something we talked about for a while too – eventually that’ll be Ainsley’s room and it needed major TLC from the ceiling down to new carper. And Adam’s office move – well that was not by choice. Comcast decided we could no longer have two internet ports at one addresses without opening a business line that would have cost triple what we are paying. And the Wi-Fi couldn’t reach his old office through the plaster walls in our 1940s home.
And then! Two days before Adam’s wisdom teeth surgery, he fell off a ladder rung and tore his tendon! Poor guy is literally falling apart. Fast forward a few weeks, he’s had a MRI, an x-ray and boot and plans for surgery. More money, and the recovery is insane. A week of nothing – literally nothing. And six weeks of no driving. Try telling that to a man who can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes and who drives for hours every day for his job.
So now my home is semi-ruffled, dog is still sick and hubs is limping with a swollen mouth, on top our average stresses of life. But apparently that wasn’t enough. Life decided we could handle more, and we’re always up for a challenge.
A week after Adam’s wisdom teeth surgery, Hurricane Irma headed toward the Southeast. It looked really bad. We prepped the house just like Hurricane Matthew last year. This was only our second hurricane in Savannah in our ten years here. I panicked because it was stronger than Matthew – I got a hurricane kit, stocked up on boxed milk (gross), water and food. I even rented a home in Asheville, NC. Then Irma’s track shifted and she weakened, and we thought, “Whew, we’re safe.” We canceled the rental just a day before our check-in, and the wonderful owner refunded half our money. I took the dogs and Ainsley to my parent’s home 20 minutes northwest of us. Not only are they more inland, but their home is brand new with new windows, on a new power grid and their neighborhood has very few mature trees. Adam decided to stay at the house. Monday morning, 9/11 (yes, 9/11), the storm was the strongest and would you fucking believe a tree fell on our home. A giant tree hit the second story roof, above the exact room my husband was in. It broke a window, pulled other window frames out, put some cracks in our siding and roof, cracked the cement around our pool, uprooted the pool filter and our entire back fence, pulled down power lines and internet lines, crushed part of our deck, pulled down our gutters and a myriad of other things. I could not make this up. We had to live with my parents for a week until we could get home. Our insurance company has been surprisingly great, and thanks to hubs’ connections, we have a great contractor. My work has also been lifesaving and let me work from my parents for the week I was homeless. Nothing’s been done so far – lots of waiting and figuring out what needs to be fixed. Inside my home, you can barely tell anything is wrong. It’ll be a few weeks of interior fixes, but I don’t look out back right now. This is my favorite time of year to sit out back, and I’m avoiding even the smallest glances out back.
Shit, these past few weeks have been trying on me and my husband each separately, and on our marriage. But he’s finally getting ankle surgery next week (after rescheduling twice because of the hurricane). We got our driveway finished late last week and we got to start parking on it this week. We finally got the guest room painted and carpet installed. Adam’s office in the house actually hasn’t been the worst thing. Ainsley runs in to say hi occasionally, but who wouldn’t enjoy that? Alfie’s been doing pretty well too. He goes to the vet every two or three weeks, but he’s been off steroids for two weeks. He goes back today, so we’ll see what his weight and belly look like.
Thing is, I don’t attend church and I don’t believe there’s one single being out there running the show. But I do believe in karma and fate and that things happening for a reason. And I have faith. I have faith in my husband to be my rock, and faith in my parents to take over parenting when I need them to help, and faith in my friends to offer support when I need it (and maybe give support when I don’t know I need it).
I was going to add that being a mom is actually the easiest thing in my life right now, but then I realized it’s not the easiest, it’s just the most natural. Some days are really hard with her. She doesn’t want what I cook, her routines have been totally out of whack, and she’s not even allowed in our backyard. What works one day, totally fails the next. But I think it’s the strength I’ve gained in becoming a mom that has powered me through all this. It’s not that being a mom is easy (it’s definitely not), but it’s because I’m a mom that I can handle all of this, still brush my teeth and remember deodorant.
I wanted to end it there, but thought y’all needed to hear this story. Three days after the tree fell, Ainsley’s school finally re-opened and you bet your ass she was going. I was working from my parent’s kitchen and also making a shitload of phone calls dealing with all things tree-related. On our way to school, she shoved her hand down her throat (because she’s a toddler), and vomited all over my car, her car seat and her lap. I think that was only the third time she ever puked. I was closer to our home than my parents, even though we had no water and power. I took her to her room and got her changed into new clothes, wiped her down with baby wipes and just started weeping. She walked over, threw her arms around my neck and squeezed. How did she even know to do that? How do our children learn compassion and empathy? That sweetness put an immediate smile on my face, even though I knew my next few hours were going to be spent elbow-deep in yogurt vomit. Our kids are watching everything we do, especially during the really hard times. They pick up on our energy, and how we handle things will eventually reflect on how they handle things. Be a positive part of society and handle them well, even when you’re covered in vomit.