Back to School Worrying and Other Acts of Frenzy

‘Tis is the season of MUCH ACTIVITY, second only in craziness to the nightmare known as December. School has started, a milestone of which I’m sure you’re aware, even if you don’t have kids. (My husband dubbed last Monday “Housewives of America Day” on Facebook.) In addition to all the Back to School Shopping, there is of course all the Back to School Worrying that we parents must do. Since I have three kids all starting something new (one starting a new elementary school, one starting kindergarten, and one starting preschool), I have spent copious amounts of time and energy on worrying. Luckily we’re one week in and no one is dead/kidnapped/morose/humiliated/shamed yet, so I’m starting to unclench my jaw just a bit.

But it’s not just all outward expenditures of energy around here; I’m also on overdrive on the inner front. I’ve been taking the thyroid hormones generously donated to me by my new friends, the pigs, for about two and a half weeks now, and it’s so crazy, but I’m totally different. Well, I’m still the same me, but it’s like someone busted into the party (which had previously consisted of a couple of strung out hippies listening to music and philosophizing across a sagging sofa) and cranked the volume up. I have energy to do back to school shopping, for example, and fold laundry and cook dinner, which is fantastic. Even more interesting to me, however, is the uptick in mental energy.

I never knew that there was such a thing as a “mental energy level.” But now I’ve lived it—a rapid increase over a short period of time has made the case quite effectively. For example, did you know that talking to children takes a lot of mental energy? This may sound obvious, but I’m not talking about dealing with their temper tantrums. Of course that takes energy. I’m talking about just chatting with them—listening to them explain for the three thousandth time about the Hero Factory toy they want for Christmas, or hearing their super involved pretend plot line involving 12 stuffed animals and a bag of toilet paper rolls, or waiting for what seems like 90 seconds between an endless succession of “ums” just to get through the first half of the sentence, which you’ve already heard twice before.

That all takes patience. Buckets of the stuff. But it’s not just that. There’s also the mental energy required to just exist next to the little whirlwinds. This is why feng shui books recommend against buying a house near a school: with so much energy flying by, it’ll leave your home stripped. This is also why people who do not do coke find it exhausting to be at a preschool for more than the 15 minutes required for drop-off or pick-up.

But anyway, my point is, before my friends the pigs started helping me out, I was feeling very low, very slow, and I actually had to withdraw from my kids sometimes just to make it through. This is not entirely a bad thing; I think a lot of moms and dads (although I think many dads understand this intuitively already) would benefit from a lesson in “How to Tell Your Children to Leave You Alone for a Minute (or 30) So That You Don’t Go Insane.” But now I have more energy to just be with them, to exist next to their whitewater energy, and to still somehow crack a smile.

(I say that, but I’m being coy. Truth is, I listen to them 50% of the time, and the rest of the time I just stare at them and wonder how on earth such magnificence managed to scrape itself together out of my insides.)

This is a huge gift, and it makes me very happy.

© Amy Daniewicz

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