Saturday, October 18, 2008

Still Seeking Perspective

Yes, I'm still trying to size things up.

My mom can meet you for five minutes, not see you for six months, and pick out your wardrobe for a year without getting a single size wrong. She can hang out in your house for an hour and months later talk you out of the hutch you point to in the catalogue: "You'll be sorry if you get that one; it's about six inches too wide and it'll always feel like it's in your way." My mom knows how to size things up. Also, she is not known for worrying. Most things I worry about make her say something like, "A few years from now you will look back and this will just be a little thing you hardly even think about anymore."

I do not take after my mom much.
I still struggle all the time to judge the proportions of things. I struggle with sense of scope and scale. I go in the dressing room with sizes 6 to 14, never sure if any of them will fit. I do look back at some things I worried about five years ago and wonder why I lost so much sleep, and I reluctantly have to admit that mom was right. And I look at other things and wonder why I didn't think to worry about them more, as if the worry might have helped. (Mightn't it have?)

When I was about 10, my mother left my father, my father left the country, I moved away from my home and school without saying goodbye, all of our money was gone, and the FBI wanted to have a few words with us about dad's "business." I thought it was the end of the world, and anyone who met me that first year could tell it. I wasn't sure I'd ever make new friends in this small and insular town, that I'd ever forgive my parents for their secrets and deceptions, or that I'd ever go to college with my suddenly penniless mother having to work for minimum wage. It made me angry when my mom said, "You'll get over it." I don't know how over it I got, but I made friends, even with my mom (who I adore), and I had more happiness at college than ought to be legal.

When I left my ex for his infidelity, I thought I'd ruined my life by choosing a bad partner and wasting five years with him. I thought I'd never "catch up," have true love, make babies, have the kind of family my parents couldn't give me. All wrong, of course.

On the other hand, you don't want to hear all the things that I thought would be small problems, that turned out to grow and grow and grow.

This time, I have this gnawing need to know: HOW BIG IS IT? This Autism Thing. It dances in front of the fun house mirror, and I don't know if it's a 6 or a 14, how much it's going to get in our way.

I know that I don't want to waste too much time worrying about the small stuff, but nobody believes it's really ALL small stuff. I know that I don't want to overlook things that need taking care of. It's a conundrum. I know I have never worried as much about myself (and clearly I've worried plenty about my self) in the 30some years before kids as I have worried about these little people in the last five years. I know if, before kids, I had truly, completely understood how much and how deeply I would worry, I would have chickened out. I could not have gone through with it.

Really, my perspective problem is at the heart of many of my problems.

I read so many blogs by smarter, stronger, healthier mamas, and I envy those with the sense of proportion I lack.

Does anyone have an accurate yard stick I can borrow?


jen said...

We all have our very own yardstick my friend - I'd never advise borrowing someone elses!

It's a slippery slope looking at someone else's life from the outside - everyone has their own disfunction, that's one of the ony realities I've managed to find in this crazy life. I've often envied some of those shiny happy put-together lives that seem so out of reach - but when I've had the privilege of being invited into those shiny happy lives - I find that somehow they're remarkably more familiar than I could have imagined.

Perspective is an interesting thing - it all depends on what you're looking at & from what angle. from this end of the www I admire your strength & courage and wish it were my own...

gretchen said...

More often than not I just find myself thinking "well, this is just what I have to do. Let's get on with it." I try not to think too much about HOW MUCH IT'S GOING TO SUCK TO HOLD MY SON DOWN WHILE THEY TAKE HIS BLOOD or how driving around to pawn shops looking for my stolen stuff is pretty much one of the shittiest things I've ever had to do.

And of course I try to remember that others have had to do worse.

So I guess I'm saying that I try to downplay most situations in my own mind. And maybe I'll look back on it later and think "wow- that was really bad. Glad it's over now."

By the way, I comment on almost every post you write, but then decide against clicking publish because my answer always seems to sound wrong. I want to help but don't usually feel like I am. But I'm always here reading :-)

ghkcole said...

I feel the same way about your blog; I read all your posts and feel like anything I might say in a comment would be of no use. I think we should both be gentler critics of ourselves.
The pawn shop thing does totally suck, and I hate that for you.
I know well the blood draw suckiness, and I'll be holding down my boy for the gajillionth time on Tuesday, so wish us luck.

gretchen said...

So today's Tuesday, and I'm thinking of you. And you're right- we must be too hard on ourselves. From now on I'll say whatever comes into my mind :-)


pixiemama said...

Obviously I'm not one who's very good with perspective - except that I often find myself realizing (over and over and over and over and...) that our perspectives are simply not reliable. No one's is! Perspective shifts from day to day, from moment to moment. Things that terrify us and bring us to our knees one day are gone the next. Take it easy on yourself. If something feels difficult, that's because it is difficult for you.