Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Campers

If you were at my house right now you would see my husband (who just turned 36 yesterday) sitting on the couch with his two children and his niece and nephew clustered around him as he reads book after book to them. We started with an old favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss, then it was Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by Margret & H.A. Rey, and then Goodnight Me, Goodnight You by Tony Mitton, the next is a personal favorite, Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park followed by More Spaghetti, I Say! by Rita Golden Gelman and then The Little Puppy's Bad Day by Cathy West and finally Little Red Riding Hood by The Grimm Brothers.

My husband treats these children with as much and warmth and generosity as if they were his own children. My children treat their cousins with as much love and warmth and generosity as if they were their siblings. It touches my heart to see them sipping chocolate milk and listening to him read at the end of the day when I know he is tired and wants to just put his feet up or turn on the television. We have been camping for 3 days and are just plain tired and want to relax.

Those of you that read this blog regularly know that my sister and her ex-husband are both in jail in Oregon. Before they went to jail they had 2 children and while the children live with my parents in Northern California, we are the lucky recipients of them each summer for 2 weeks and sometimes for a few days around Christmas. We love having them and we take as much or as little time as we can get. This summer we got to take the kids camping with several other families and it was a lot of fun and a lot of work.

I have to be honest, this last week and a half was a stretch for me. I deal with ongoing anxiety issues and having too many people in my personal space can sometimes be devastating for me. I find that I can't sleep or focus or concentrate or be a nice person when I feel like I have too much going on around me. The kids were here, my folks were here, my brother is still here and he has a new "friend" and she is here and then some kids I babysit for the neighbor's, and so you can imagine that I was not exactly pleasant all of the time this week. I tried to count to 10. I tried to take deep breaths. I tried to not be bitchy. But knowing that I would be the one to entertain and cook and clean and organize and pack and wash and do all the things needed for 4 kids, 2 parents, a brother and his "friend", and the kids I babysit for the neighbor's, made me do what anyone else in this situation would do - I unraveled a little bit here and there. (mostly at my husband and mostly where only he could hear me) At this point I don't feel the need to explain the square footage of my house to you because even if I lived in a very large house - that many people would unravel me.

Here's the truth: I can be selfish. And I can be bitchy. And I can be particular. And I can be a clean freak. And I can be judgmental. And I can be conservative. And I can be in the middle of a massive panic attack, but I'm lucky to have a partner that I respect and admire and that makes me feel like I can take whatever gets tossed my way.

And that having been said, we are done camping for the summer. I need the next 10 months to prepare for next summer!


Angela said...

Sounds like fun and exhausting and special time for your family.

My husband turned 36 yesterday too! We celebrated with another friend who also turned 36 yesterday. Is Gabe left0handed too? They could start a gang!

Whitney said...

Um and I'd add that you are awesome for trying to keep all of those people happy and give all that you do to people in your life. You give of more of your own time to help someone else than most people I know, so guess what you are entitled to be a smidge bitchy or judgemental or even "conservative" (ha) on occasion. Now put your feet up and toast to Gabe for being so supportive.