July 30, 2008

Proof of Life

Any talk about my girls being in school has turned into a sort of mantra. "It's important for their socialization. They are learning the skills of interaction and team work."

Oi vey. This, for the children of Queen Hermit, Mrs. Haven't-Spoken-To-Anyone-Outside-My-Dance-Space-In-97-Days. Perhaps I need to go to preschool?

It's been a weird summer. I've evened out and enjoyed the comforts of our local psychiatric establishments. I have absorbed, through sheer force of will, ways to cope with what ails me. Mostly, in boils down to simple preparation and avoidance of over-stimulation. I'm starting to wonder, though, if I haven't taken it a bit too far. My whole existence now revolves around The Schedule. I work on The Schedule every Sunday night and stick to it like ketchup in Silvia's hair.

Planning out my week is part of my overall stress mitigation. First, I set up my workout routine. Sometimes I get all flustered trying to figure out if The Schedule balances working upper body against lower body with enough rest between each muscle group. My exercise routine is the entire foundation of my week, a key factor for peace of mind. Following closely behind that are planned activities with the girls. I now passionately avoid watching the carpet in the living room grow all afternoon.

Dinner is easy since I started with the fabulous frozen dinner extravaganza. What really sets me to a flurry of erasing (I do the whole Schedule in pencil, of course) is the quantity of events entered each day. Is it too much? What if I have a workout AND a walk AND a play date? Will it be fun or will all my hair turn white and my eyeballs pop out? Deviations from The Schedule after Sunday Planning are rare and nerve-wracking.

By the end of every day, I often feel like I've reached capacity. The days are pleasantly but sufficiently full. While this is a happy change from overwhelmed and incapacitated, it does have a social drawback. I find myself each night ensconced somewhere, reading or watch TV with Kurt. I entertain not even a thought of anything outside my cocoon. To whit, I do not go out. I have, on occasion, even declined a trip to the ice cream shop(pe).

(Side note: I just scoffed at the very concept of turning down ice cream and accidentally spit coffee ALL OVER my laptop.)

I know all this sounds extreme, especially for a housewife with no other job. But consider my sudden burst of anxiety last night when all my planning went astray for over AN HOUR. We were playing outside and the older girl across the street came over to play with Anna. On a whim, holding Anna's little hand in her own, they headed down the street to visit another girl. All of a sudden, I was whirling in an impromptu play date at the house of a woman I hardly know who already had company. She was about to run out the door with her friend, the two other 6-year-olds were ignoring Anna, and I stood like a fidgety statue in an unknown kitchen with two near-strangers.

All I could do was take my shoes on and off, four times, aghast at the pristine white carpets (how do people DO that?). Anna, not ready to be alone but unwilling to leave, followed the older girls around like a puppy. Silvia, covered in bubble solution and potting soil (don't ask), crawled all over the buttery soft leather couch and delightedly wrestled the spotless silk pillows.

While this situation would have been only mildly awkward for some, I was near panic. After about 10 minutes, I corralled two whining and teary-eyed children out, pleading that Kurt was probably home (it wasn't even 5 P.M.) and I had to make dinner. My heart pounded and a nearly painful tightness squeezed the air from my lungs.

All I could do was backtrack and plop myself back down, weepy children and all, into the framework of The Schedule. Then my breath returned and I was safe.

I am a balanced person, on the whole, seriously. My equilibrium, both through hard work and medication, has returned in ways that never existed before. I have confidence in myself and the strength of my little family. But, from time to time, someone's snowy white carpets can throw all that to hell. Planning against this is what keeps me on an even keel.

Still, while all this proactive living and whatnot is effective at keeping me level, perhaps, only perhaps, I should find a way to leave a tiny, itty bitty portion of it up to chance. See my friends for an evening of adult interaction. Make a phone call or two. Attend a local function. Maybe.

Or, and now I think I've hit on it: I could schedule the opportunities for chance! Brilliant! Barring of course, any future possibilities of landing myself again in the house of Older Children and Weekly Steamed Carpets. A woman can only take so much.


Alison said...

I say stay with your schedule for now. Eventually you'll know when it's time to be more flexible. But could we maybe get an appointment with you (in pencil of course) in the next few weeks!? :)

mamma said...

this helps me to understand what's going on. i admit it didn't make sense to me when you said you couldn't go out with me on wednesday or friday morning. i was there thinking, "the girls are in school, megan's at loose ends, we can get together". but now i do understand and won't make that mistake again! instead i'll get myself on your schedule. but NOT for next week! how about the week after? friday morning the 16th? coffee or nails or both?

Lis' said...

I'd love to get penciled in sometime, but the commute might get in the way.

I totally get the schedule thing. Being a spontaneously social human on a schedule is not as easy as the celebrities make it look, but they have assistants and cameras that make it LOOK like they're being social.