Bending without Breaking- The House that Jess Built.
Sometimes the Universe can do unexplainable and incomprehensible things to our lives. Natural Disasters like Hurricanes, Tornadoes, or Earthquakes unexpectedly erupt and suddenly we are left dazed and confused. We’re lifted and twisted, turned and sometimes torn. Some of us are uprooted and lost. But, there are those who weather the storm. There are those who hang on until the calm arrives. We bend without breaking. We sway with the winds and bow to the earth. We kneel to which we don’t understand. We Bend Without Breaking; staying grounded and connected… yet aware.
Swaying with the Wind…Bending without Breaking.
Recently, I’ve had some strong tornadoes blow my way. Actually, it seems that the storm had been brewing for some time and finally let loose.
First, after 10 years of “Making the best of it” in a small yet cozy home; I was blessed and finally able to move into a lifetime investment for myself and my two daughters. A beautiful, spacious, and hopefully memorable home. Yet, it needs plenty of repairs, remodeling, remaking and restarting. So far, I’ve painted 11 rooms, put up dry wall, replaced ceiling panels, pulled up tile and carpet, painted two floors, laid tile, filled concrete, patched holes, repaired pipes, fixed doors; this is some of the work that I’ve been able to do on my own, but does not include all the work of others (the professionals) that I had to hire to do. It’s been too many sleepless nights, long days, scrapes, bruises and blisters. Terribly gruesome and costly but wonderful too.
Here’s a little background on my life; (just in case you’ve forgotten): I’m a single mother of two breath-taking daughters; 14 and 11. Which by the way, are home-schooled and have been all their lives. A move for any child may produce unsavory results, but for a home-schooled child whose social life evolves around neighborhood friends and miraculous relationships that have blossomed from limited exposure; a move can be devastating. (We’ll get more to that later).
Also, I’m self-employed. The proud owner of Regeneration Daycare and School. Regeneration began out of the need of having alternative, holistic, and progressive ways to teach, instruct, and produce healthy and happy children while providing income for my family. But, most importantly being able to be home for my children. A bit old fashioned but appropriate for me and my beliefs. The daycare has been highly successful. In the 14 years of me starting the business I’ve provided care for countless children. More than half of the children (preschoolers) who enter into the public school system are at advance levels academically. Most are placed at First grade level instead of Kindergarten. Children are taught French, Spanish, Yoga, Aromatherapy, Color therapy, Meditation, Quantum Physics, Gardening, respect for all Traditions and Cultures and PRIDE-Peace, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Example. Obviously, I’m very proud of my accomplishment with starting Regeneration and it keeps me youthful and grounded. However, it’s a full-time job that always goes into overtime…minus the overtime pay. I’m Owner, Manager, Bookkeeper, Teacher, Parent, Priest, Maid, Chef and Janitor… etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…(Blah..Blah..Blah)
Lastly, in order to fulfill my personal duties to myself and what I am passionate about. I started an (almost non-for profit; still in the legal works)..ACT Now! Organization for human rights and bringing attention to injustices against military women by the hands of the military, and most importantly fighting for now deceased LaVena Lynn Johnson.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot…I’m a writer and poet, too. (as if you didn’t know that)
Needless to say, my life is plentiful. I run the business to pay for the house, I need the house for the kids; (If it were just me, I would be satisfied in a big enough closet for me to sleep in and peck on a computer) However, it’s never… ever how we expect.
I moved into my new home in November. Unlike the old home, everyone and everything has space. The girls no longer share a bedroom. Instead of one shared television, there are 5. The daycare has its space with separate kitchen and bath. Office, Classroom and family room. I was even able to create a space for Yoga and Meditation. The change was from day to night.
Well, not long after the move I noticed that the girls stayed in their bedrooms. No where else, just their bedrooms. Which is not uncommon for children..(right?) Also, I figured that since they shared so much of themselves with each other that it was okay for them to be alone. I kinda wanted to see how they would handle the freedom and if they would make wise choices. It may have not been the best idea, but with all the work I had to do, it seemed alright if only for a moment.
By April, I was basically finished with the heavy work of the house. All rooms were finished except for the office and downstairs bathroom. They could hold for a while (I thought). But, not long after that, my 18-year-old niece unexpectedly moved in. She roomed with my eldest (the 14-year-old). At first it was a welcoming addition, my daughter loved the idea. However, (as I expected) it soon became a big issue. Both girls needed space. My daughter wanted back what she just recently received. My niece wanted what she’d always had. Oh well, what to do? I decided to take my plans for the downstairs office and change it into a bedroom. And I would add an office space to the downstairs family room. Easier said than done. I was hoping it would take a weekend to complete. But, after the first week I realized it was a bigger task than what I projected. My daughter got restless and unhappy because she wanted (HER) room. My niece was irritated because she wanted (HER) room. My daughter soon gave up the fight and fled to her father’s house..who incidentally had a room for her there..(Nice right?)
One week at her father’s turned into two weeks, then three. Now, I’m unhappy. The money has dwindled..and I need more to finish my niece’s room. She needs furniture etc. (I’m stressed to the max.) And, I have to hurry up and finish so my baby can come home. Now, it’s the Fourth of July. Family time and outings, fireworks and pie and my daughter isn’t home. Okay, no worries. My 11-year-old celebrated with her father. I celebrated by working on the room. I was determined to get it done. By the weekend..I was finish. Whew! Yes!!! My daughter came back Monday. Now, we’ll be fine. (I thought).
I was exhausted and beat. But, optimistic. My niece was happy. My 14-year-old wasn’t enthused. She was moody and different..but she’s 14 so it was common. But, my 11-year-old. Where is she? She had been withdrawn and quiet and pretty much invisible during the whole thing. She hadn’t put up a fuss about anything. Perfectly perfect. She hadn’t wanted to help with painting or creating. She didn’t want to go out for lunch breaks or dinner. She asked nonchalantly about her sisters absence..”When is she coming home?” responded with a “Umph.” and retreated to her room. I was too busy to question her.
We had our first night’s dinner together as a complete family. My youngest peered at her sister..”You seem different.” she abruptly said. I gazed from my plate. Confused but aware of the tension. “Well, babe. She just got home. She’s been gone for a couple of weeks.” My 14- yr. old responded by saying “Whatever! I have two families and two houses, I have to be there too!” My youngest looks at me with these eyes. Eyes that I hadn’t seen before, or just hadn’t noticed. She looked at me as if to question me and beckon me to do something. However, I wasn’t sure of what to do at the time. So, in classic Mommy fashion..I responded by saying that “Everything’s gonna be alright. It all seems different right now.” Quietly, my 11 yr. old finished her dinner, then shuffled to her room.
The next day, I stumbled upon her crying in a fetal position. She was crying so uncontrollably that I soon cried too, because I wasn’t able to calm her. Through her tears she told me that she was unhappy. She said that “everything was different”. The move, the house, she had no friends. (Okay, I understand…) Then, she said that she was lonely and didn’t want to be here. Shocked, I asked “What do you mean? What do you mean you don’t want to be here?” She said..”I don’t want to be here anymore, I don’t want to live here anymore..I don’t want to live.” (WHAT!) Oh my GOD! What is she talking about?! Puzzled, I just looked at her. She understood my confusion and spoke for me. She said..”Mom, I’ve been having suicidal thoughts. I’ve had them for a long time, and I feel like it’s getting worse. I’m just not happy.” Afraid of the answer, I asked her had she attempted anything and she replied with a horrifying “Yes”.
I held her and tried to think. I tried to rationalize the situation. I thought that possibly all her feelings could be hormonal. I took in consideration everything that had happened. It’s been stressful for everyone. The changes have been so sudden and drastic. She’s lost her friends and doesn’t have anyone to confide in. I tried my best to stay calm. But, then I remembered something. I just took her to the doctor a day ago. I took her to Emergency (again) for chest pains. Actually, over the past 3 years I’ve taken her numerous times to different doctors because of chest pains. I thought that her chest pains had to be allergy related. I just hadn’t figured out the allergen. Although never diagnosed and even though test after test came back negative. I felt that it was all minor. Maybe growing pains or because of physical activity. But, then I remembered something. At the last emergency room visit, the Doctor asked if she was under stress and immediately I responded with an adamant NO. But, now I see. It’s all making sense. She’s been having panic attacks. My little baby is having panic attacks.
My beloved child named “Ntozake” meaning “She comes with her own things”. The child assumed to have it all together. Easy and lighthearted. Joyful and independent. Smart and controlled. This wise child has been the backbone of our family. Me and her sister are always all over the place. The person of focus and reason has always been her. But, this time she took on too much. She tried to reel me in many times, but I didn’t listen. With her smiles..”Mom, you need to get off the computer. Mom, you need to get some rest. Mom, it’s too bad that your too busy, because we (ALL) could go swimming”. Then, she gave up. And, foolish me didn’t recognize her giving up on me and (US) I thought that she had grown more mature and was now giving to herself.
Now, with new hurt eyes and tears never before seen; we watch. Both broken and weak. Admittedly, and realistically I knew that I needed help to fix this one. I once again took her to the hospital but this time I had to leave her. It was the most horrible thing that I have ever done. Everything ceased. Everything stopped. The business. The work. The writing. The house. None of it mattered. LIFE mattered. LIFE matters!
I got so cluttered with so much of the world and the things that are in it..that I forgot why the World exists. Most importantly, what makes MY WORLD. I realized that it doesn’t matter how much of a change that I am making with someone else and for someone else, if the change isn’t made in me. I can be Guru to those who know me, need me, and read me. But, I’m nothing if I’m not utilizing the same wisdom that I put forth. All this time..for these many years, I had been building the wrong house. The neatly folded towels, and empty sink. The full refrigerator and complete 3 course, home cooked meals, 3 times a day is not my house. The spotless counters and empty hampers.. This building is not my house. These redone walls and refinished floors, are not my house. My House can never be demolished or foreclosed. My House can never be torn apart. My House will stand forever on a strong foundation. That foundation..is ME.
Getting my house in order
P.S. Both my babies are now home. We’re all home….wide-eyed, alert, and in our hard hats…(pink of course). I’ve decided to take a much needed break from the Daycare business and I plan to put energy toward my writing and concentrating on making the living that I’ve always wanted. I honestly don’t know how things are going to turn out. But, I do know that MY HOUSE is priority.
Tags: blisters, bruises, calm, carpet, dazed and confused, earthquakes, free source, hurricanes, lifetime investment, many sleepless nights, natural disasters, personal narrative, pipes, scrapes, single mother, skins, tile, tornadoes, two daughters