Tuesday, August 9, 2016

in the homeland

Hello from hot, sunny Ottawa!

Well, we made it, despite my girl leaving her passport on the plane (she asked to look at it before we landed; we forgot to make sure she had it with her when we disembarked). The woman at immigration in Toronto was amazing and even had someone from Air Canada bring the passport to her when they'd found it. When we went to transfer our baggage to the domestic area, the belt was stuck, so we had to go to another floor. There, we realized that the nice lady at immigration had kept one of our boarding passes by mistake, so I had to get another printed (freaked out first, naturally). We actually made it to our connecting flight just as they were boarding. Mom and dad gave us a ride to our wonderful friends' house, where we stay every year, and we all took melatonin and crashed.

We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, hanging out with the folks, alternating between eating great food and relaxing at mom and dad's and swimming in the pool and eating cookies at my aunt's place. I had a mental crash Friday, compounded by everything, including jetlag, and begged my mother to let me have a responsibility-free day. She put me to bed, kissed me, I took two solanax and slept for pretty much the whole day. My mother is amazing. If you think I have a lot of energy and get a lot done in a day, I am nothing compared to her. She even took my girl shopping to get a bathing suit -- had to call all around town first because they are sold out at most places.

Yesterday, my boy started soccer camp. When we dropped him off, he shyly walked over the play area and I thought I should go up to the counselors and mention that he could comprehend, but not speak much English, but he told me firmly in Japanese to go home. He's shy, but really trying hard and we are very proud of him. He told us that one little boy talked to him a lot, although he couldn't respond because, as he said, "he's not used to speaking English yet". We hope that by the end of the trip, he'll be saying more. My girl slept most of the morning away because jet lag hit her hard. We woke her for lunch and then headed off to a water park to meet a friend and her son. We arrived much earlier than my friend, so the kids were fighting over the iPad, etc., and we had to do some mediation (had to do more in the evening, too). Finally, my friend arrived and the kids had a blast. When we had enough water park, we went to a nearby beach where the kids could actually swim. After that, off to McD's for dinner. I shouldn't eat anything there, but I did, and paid the penalty of feeling nauseous all evening.

This morning, my boy was not as eager to go to camp -- it took a while to figure it out -- he doesn't like to go so far in advance of the program starting  (kids can be dropped off at 8 although the camp starts at 9) because it's hard for him. I realized it and we decided we can leave 15 minutes before 9 and get there in plenty of time. Once he was understood, he cheerfully checked his bag to make sure he had everything, and off we went. What is amazing me to me is I still seem to be the one who tries to figure out why there's a problem. Beloved husband sees what's in front of him only (whiny kid) and deals with it in, shall we say, a less-than-helpful way. I realize from this that I might actually have a smidgen of maternal instinct -- I used to think that meant knowing absolutely everything about how to take care of your child instinctively -- now I realize it just means listening, feeling, and trying to get to the root of the issue bothering your child.

My girl is very calm these days and although has whiny bursts, they are really not different from my boy's whiny bursts, or indeed any other kid's whiny bursts. She is enjoying some, but not all of the food, but likes the cheese, giant chocolate muffins, my mother's lasagna, that my mother has no compunction about loading a sh*tload of whipped cream onto your slice of pie (with sound effects), and that she can lounge in bed for a good part of the morning and evening. Right now she's sitting quietly across the kitchen table from me watching Chibi Marikochan videos on the iPad and laughing to herself. There's a park nearby with a basketball hoop, so the husband will take her there while I try to get a little work done. This afternoon is power-packed with more playing - we're visiting an old friend and her kids for more water pistol action and then going swimming at 6 with yet another friend who has a very outgoing daughter. This will be nice for my girl, because so far, she's had no other girls to play with. Tomorrow, I have a meeting at Ottawa U program and will take the afternoon for myself.

Have you noticed that I've replaced "the girl" and "the boy" with "my girl" and "my boy"? I wanted to protect their privacy, but some readers mentioned that it sounded distant, so I've solved this situation with a simple pronoun switch. Much better, yes?

Have been having lots of good talks with friends about mental health, medication, counseling, meditation, what books to read, self-compassion, and everything I need in my life at this moment. Thank goodness there are so many understanding people out there and it's no longer taboo to talk about these things in public. People around me keep saying, "The kids are good! The kids are sweet!" and I think, "They are?" It's true! They are good, sweet kids, and I'm winding myself up worrying about what they could be doing or what might happen in the future rather than what is in front of me right now. Why "do I do this? I've talked to other parents (well, moms) who also do this.

Anyway, am working out a plan for myself for when we return to Japan, if I'm still feeling anxious or weepy for no reason. Many friends are mentioning good meds they are on and we know a Japanese social worker who lived in the US for many years who I might be able to schedule talking sessions with. If I can get a plan to get my emotional health back on track, things will be fine. I know it!

And the one person who is getting me through with the most support is my husband. Although he doesn't always know what to do, he does a lot and  reassures me that I can ask for help anytime! I couldn't do this or get through this without him!

Thanks, as always, for reading,

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