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Thursday, August 14, 2008

August Rush (not the film)

It’s August, the month where school seems to be rushing toward us in slow motion. This week we dug out the list of books my daughter was supposed to read over the summer and discovered that she has three “projects” due in less than three weeks, reflecting on three of the books on the list. Unfortunately, the two we had acquired (but not read) have both gone missing, including one from the library. In fact, we’ve spent quite a bit of time looking under the couch for materials from the library lately. It’s one of the hazards of having a summer where we did something different every single week. No routine, no organization. The good news is that I’m not as stressed as I used to get in August when the children were young, and I felt like I might die before nursery school resumed. Now, camp is over, and I will have no writing time until September. But I’ve learned that my creativity is waiting, not dying. September will come. I just need to enjoy this time when I get to be with my children full time. It's a blessing.

Of course, I have my moments. Yesterday I yelled at my kids when they didn’t respond after four polite requests to come eat their lunch. My daughter immediately started coughing—a red in the face, I can’t breathe because of my asthma cough, which she has had distressingly often lately. In fact, after years of having her asthma under control with medication, my daughter and I made our first middle of the night trip to the emergency room in what was technically, but barely, Saturday morning. She couldn’t catch her breath at home, but was fine by the time we got to the hospital, which meant we sat in the freezing waiting room for two hours, and finally got dismissed by a doctor after sunrise (which is when we suspect we lost one of the books). Since then she has been on increased medication and is doing much better, but is clearly not back to normal either. What struck me yesterday was how she coughed immediately after I yelled at her. I know that stress isn’t good for your body, including your breathing. And if I had thought about it, I would have known that being yelled at must be stressful. But seeing her physical response to my emotional state was startling, a very real example of words hurting.

I saw an amazing PBS special this spring, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick? It talks about the stress caused by social inequality and how that stress affects the body. Based upon scientific research, it shows how the stress of the hospital CEO (who has lots of responsibility, but also lots of power) is actually less harmful to the body than the stress of the hospital janitor (who has to respond to everyone else’s demands without the power to refuse). It was quite compelling and made me think of all kinds of big social issues, but not my children. Yesterday I was suddenly hit with the fact that they, too, are pretty powerless, subject to the demands and moods of an unpredictable mother, who has more power to inflict stress on them than she usually realizes. August is usually a time for me to work on staying calm myself. This year I have an added reason.


Blogger naturalmom said...

Hmm. Powerful point in that last paragraph. (I saw some of that special too -- fascinating.)

I hope your daughter stabilizes quickly.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

I hope she gets better soon. You have inspired me to work on being less stressing to my girls.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

How interesting! And so true if I look back on my childhood. I remember feeling so anxious (stressed) all the time as a child, and very much out of control. It is hard to keep in mind that little things to me are so much bigger emotionally to children.

As a mother of a child with asthma, my heart goes out to your daughter, and you as well!

10:12 PM  

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