Menu Close

Diarist A07 Day 20

These things always seem to come along when my life is extraordinarily … exciting isn’t the right word … chaotic? Interesting? Depressing? I don’t know, but this caught me at another unordinary time. As I’m sitting here, I can hear one of my four nephews getting mad about something downstairs and stomping around. It’s entirely too early for stomping. I can also hear a rooster crowing, goat bleating, the door slamming as my brother goes out to fix the electric fence, ducks clucking (is that was ducks do?), and the incessant tic-tic of the ceiling fan in my room when it’s on, which is always is these days because it’s bloody hot here. Where is here? I’m currently in Idaho, staying with my brother and sister-in-law. This weekend will be 7 weeks, and I finally head home again next Wednesday. It has been a very long couple of months. Actually, it’s been a very long year. Easily the worst year of my life, and I’ve had some doozies. I don’t even know where to start, but you need some back story to understand why I’m here, how I’m feeling, and why I’m taking so much acetaminophen.  


At the end of July my SIL called. She and my brother had recently found out about some sexual abuse of my nieces and nephews. In the process of trying to deal with that, my brother had a nervous breakdown (the very unscientific term!), and she was calling me on the way back to the ER, where he’d spent the night, because they were transferring him to an in-patient facility. I got that call at 10 am and was on a plane to Idaho by 2. I’ve been here ever since, first just with my SIL as she tried to deal with the acute trauma of everything that had happened, and then with my brother when he got home about a week later. The kids were staying with grandparents for about a month, just to make sure my brother was on his way to healing before we reintroduced 6 kids and all the accompanying chaos, but we started bringing them home slowly and this week we finally got the last one, so everyone is home again! In the course of helping my family deal with this (including the legal issues, health issues, navigating child welfare, setting therapy appointments, doing farm chores, etc. etc.), we found out that my mom has breast cancer. She had surgery for it this week, and it seemed to go well. Then we found out that my last living grandmother has stage-4 kidney failure, and my aunt was admitted to the hospital for possible liver failure. Oh, and all of this is with the backdrop my father’s gastrointestinal issue that has had him incredibly sick since the spring (he’s meeting with a surgeon next week) and the divorce I’m going through. To say it’s been a stressful, overwhelming summer is an understatement so vast as to be laughable … if I weren’t mostly crying. It’s been an absolute shit show every step of the way.  


So, that’s the backstory for understanding the day … 


September 16, 2022 


My alarm goes off at 6 and I realize that I’ve actually slept through the night, which is unusual for me these days. I was really expect to sleep like shit because I got a tattoo on my arm yesterday and I thought it’d wake me up. It didn’t, blessedly, but I snooze for another 40 minutes before I get up and wander downstairs.  


The morning is so quiet and peaceful here before the kids get up and the chaos starts. E, their 8-month-old German Sheppard puppy, is still in her crate, B is still sleeping, A had made coffee and is getting a jump on prep for the day. I like this time with her every morning. We’ve been close friends since her and my brother got married, but we haven’t gotten to spend much time together since she started having kids. It’s not a great reason to be spending time together, but I still enjoy it. One of the things I’ve been helping her with is scheduling and goal setting. With 6 kids, a sick husband, and a 17-acre farm to take care of, just making it to the end of the day with everyone alive is a feat in and of itself but having things more scheduled and planned will help with that. So, we start every morning with coffee and going through the schedule for the day. Then we talk about her goals and how to achieve them. I think it’s good time for her too, and it’s my favorite time of the day.  


The kids are homeschooled, so there’s no big rush on getting them up in the morning. They start to wake up around 8 and we have to start our day in earnest. I put water on for another pot of coffee and go brush my teeth and wash/moisturize my tattoo, which is finally starting to sting again.  


9am: “Shit pickles” – A’s favorite swear comes from downstairs. B is upstairs working, so I go down to see what’s up. The goats are out. Again. WTF?! This is a perpetual problem with them, and one of the things that makes living on the farm really hard. They have plenty of land for the goats and sheep to roam and graze, but they always seem to get out of the fencing. A, S (their oldest son), and I put on our boots and head out to see where they got out. We tie it up and get the goats. They’re in the orchard, so it takes a while because they love the Asian pears that are ripening. And the grapes, but they’ve mostly eaten those already. It takes about 15 minutes in all, and then we head inside to finish making breakfast. By now the girls are up, which means R wants to be held and my morning window for work is over. I’ll try to get more done later, but realistically it’s probably another day I’ll have to take off. I don’t know if I’ll have many, if any, vacation or sick days left by the time this is all said and done. It’s worth it, because my family needed me – I’m seriously not sure how they would have made it through the last 2 months without me, and I’m not just patting myself on the back, having someone here with them was a necessity – but it’s going to be a long year without much leave left. *sigh* 


I adore all of my nieces and nephews, but 6 of them is a lot. We’re working really hard on “inside voices,” but it doesn’t matter how quietly they start off, within 5 minutes everyone is shouting again just to be heard. For someone who is used to basically silent house, it’s an adjustment, and something that really exhausts me. So, needless to say, breakfast was loud. Breakfast is always loud. Everything is always loud. Even quiet time is really fucking loud.  


My oldest and second oldest nephew (13 and 8) are both super into Mario, and they talk about it constantly. And both of these kids have ADHD and one of them has ASD, so when I say constantly, I mean ABSOLUTELY. FUCKING. CONSTANTLY. They talk about playing it. They sing the theme songs. They talk about what they would do if they made their own games. They discuss who would win fights between the Koopa Kids. They make up story lines and plots and bad guys and princesses and and and and andandandandandadn … it’s incessant. So, that was the rest of the morning – during breakfast, Mario; after breakfast and during chores, Mario; during farm chores, Mario. It requires a lot of deep breathing, coffee, and Advil. I actually have had a migraine for several days and nothing can touch it. Six acetaminophen and 2 ibuprofen several times a day? Not a damn thing. My mom isn’t using her hydrocodone from her surgery on Wednesday, so I brought it back with me and am going to try that today. It’s probably time. I think it’s cascading at this point, and if I don’t stop it soon it will be a big problem, which is exactly what I don’t need right now. 


11:15am: The only farm chore that I haven’t handed back is walking the dog, E. When I first got here, I was feeding and watering the bucklings, feeding the chickens, finding the eggs, helping with milking the goats, and anything else that my SIL needed done. Now that the kiddos are home, they are retaking charge of their chores, so I just have Éo. Usually I get out there sooner than this, but it’s been a slow morning, so I’m just now getting to it. J decided to come with me today, so we make sure that the sheep aren’t in eye-shot (Éo loves to “herd” them), and head down the hill to the swamp – her favorite place to play fetch. We play for about 40 minutes when J screams from the water that something bit her, so we head home to clean it off, look for stingers, put ice on it, and snuggle on the couch. She’s a sweet, sweet kiddo who is particularly sensitive to everything happening in the home right now, and I think she just needs some extra loving. She’s also 11, so everything is very dramatic in that pre-teen girl kinda way. I don’t mind. I like snuggling, and frankly I haven’t gotten much of it since April, when M and I decided to divorce. I like being an Auntie to these kids. They make my heart full, even when they make my head hurt.  


I saw a friend who I haven’t seen in a while yesterday. Her and her husband just opened a speakeasy-style bar in Boise – it has a hidden door and everything. Very cool. We were best friends through high school, even though we lived in different states, and then we just drifted apart. I emailed her after I got home yesterday to say that I enjoyed seeing her, and that I hope we can reconnect if/when I move back to Idaho. She just wrote back a sweet email that makes me happy. At least I wouldn’t be totally without a friend if I were to move back, which is becoming more and more likely. I need to figure out how to make it work, but now that I’m getting divorced and shit has hit the fan with my family, I’m feeling a strong pull to move closer to them. I never understood that before – why people uproot their lives to be closer to family, but I do now. It’s hard to be so far away when these kinds of things happen. I have a great community and support system in Muncie, so moving would be hard, but my parents are getting older and I’m missing all my nieces and nephews growing up – that’s hard. I’d like to be closer. I wish they didn’t live in Idaho … but they do. So that’s that. 


1pm: lunch. Bean and cheese burritos and pears from the year. Several of my nephews also have a dairy allergy (like me!) so there’s always dairy-free options when eating with my family, which is really nice. Lunch brought more talk about Mario, of course. J also talked about the comic book she’s writing. Then it’s on to why there aren’t dinosaurs in the bible. This is the one thing that is really hard for me – all the religiosity in my family. Even the kiddos spout it like it’s gospel (haha), which is particularly hard because I remember being them and so desperately trying to believe what I was taught. Or maybe they actually do, I don’t know. It’s just awkward to be around. I had a long, involved conversation with my 8-year-old nephew about what it means that I’m not a Christian and don’t read the bible. It was hard for him to understand. I might be the only person he knows personally who is adamantly not a Christian. I love that kid, though. He asks such blunt questions and he’s genuinely, deeply interested in things. Other things we’ve had long conversations about: types of tornados, types of earthquakes, blackholes, the distance to the stars, what insects bite and sting for no reason, types of Mario Bros. power-ups, types of Mario Bros. bad guys, chicken care, types of chickens, kinds of insects that live in Indiana, types of snakes that live in Indiana, where exactly Indiana is … thank god for google.  


2-5pm: my second favorite time of the day is quiet time after lunch. The kids pick out books to read and go to their respective rooms. The 3 younger boys can be a little less than “quiet,” but it’s 3 boys under the age of 8 in one room, what do you expect?! I usually do various things during this time – work, read, color, etc., but today, I slept! Even though I slept well, I’m exhausted already. I fall right asleep and don’t wake up until the stove alarm goes off and immediately feet start trampling from all over the house because quiet time is over. It’s video game time after quiet time, which is generally relatively calm still because they are all engaged in either playing or watching each other play video games. S really wanted me to play the new Mario levels he made on the Nintendo Switch. I don’t play them often because whenever I do all the kids are piled onto me to see the game, and it’s too much contact. It feels claustrophobic and I don’t like it, but I decided to today. I do love playing the levels that they think are “unbeatable” and then beating them the first or second try. They are all amazed! Ha! I keep telling them that I’ve been playing Mario for 30 years, but they don’t understand that length of time really. I’ll take their admiration. Ha! 


5:15-6pm: now that the weather has gotten more manageable, I’ve taken to going on walks on the property in the evening. It’s actually only been this week, before it’s been in the 100s before now. Even though it’s a dry heat, 108 is 108! I go out to the back pasture, sit in the quiet, and scream at the top of my lungs for as long as I can. This is new to me. I didn’t set out to do this, but goddamn does it feel good. I was just out there earlier this week and had the overwhelming need to scream and scream and scream. There are so many emotions and feelings, and I don’t have anywhere to put them right now, so they’ve all built up and letting them out with a scream feels really fucking good. There isn’t anyone out there to hear it – I’m far enough away from the house and the closest neighbor is across the swamp, so it’s just me and the occasional sheep. The neighbor dog hears me too – he barks for a while, but that’s fine. I’ve done it every night this week, and my throat is getting a little raw, but it’s worth the release.  


6-8pm: after screaming for a while, I head back to the house for dinner. Spaghetti and salad. Delish. That mostly goes okay, but there are always some skirmishes with 6 kids at the table. After dinner was another matter. B and A went out to feed the goats for the night, so I was inside with the kiddos trying to wash the dishes, get a band aid for the baby who somehow sliced her finger a little bit, clean up after the dog who is in her first heat and started dripping blood (she’s getting fixed soon, but the vet wanted her to be at least a year old), and trying to mediate between all the other kids. It wasn’t the worst, but it was chaotic and frustrating. It’s just a lot more than I’m used to, even now, almost a month after the kids have come home. I’m so exhausted by the end of the day; I never feel like I’ve slept enough. I’m trying to be a good aunt and a good sister, but I feel like I’m utterly falling short every day. It feels like it’s too much to deal with for so long, but then I feel selfish for thinking that because I didn’t even experience the primary trauma they did. Plus, B and A deal with 6 kids and all the ensuing chaos all the time. Of course, they chose that, and I chose a life without kids, but I still feel like this shouldn’t be as hard as it is … 


They all have a nighttime routine, which is actually really beautiful. They get their pajamas on, and then have “family time,” which consists of them singing hymns together. They have some funny ones they sing (that the kids have made up or changed) and they have some regular ones, but they all sing together and start to calm down. It’s a nice ritual, even if the religiosity bothers me sometimes. I don’t join them (that’s why Z wanted to have a conversation about being a Christian and reading the bible), but I listen. I know the songs, of course. I grew up with them, and sometimes I sing them in my head too.  


Tonight is a special night because S just finished Call of the Wild for school and they are going to watch the movie. I was thinking I would, but when it came down to it, I wasn’t in the mood (plus I hate the smell of popcorn and the movie was really loud), so I put on an eye mask and am chilling in my room for a while. I might brush my teeth and read myself to sleep …  


Oh, a good thing – the hydrocodone seems to have worked! My headache is just now starting to come back! Hopefully I interrupted the cascade enough to not get it back tomorrow after I sleep. Tomorrow is my grandfather’s wife’s 90th birthday party and I’ll probably go to that to see my aunts and uncles. My cousins will also likely be there, which I’m not excited about, but it would be much easier to deal with them if I don’t have a migraine, so I should probably go to sleep and hope it’s better in the morning.  


T-4 days until I go home … to an empty house … without a husband …