Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm trying to pretend I'm a normal person...

...and failing miserably.

I'm not sure what I was thinking a couple months ago when I registered for two classes (instead of my usual - one) and decided to get a part-time job. Most of the students in my program take four classes at a time (though they're all working toward a degree and I'm not) and work jobs, some of them full-time. I thought, "two classes and 20 hours a week - no big deal, right? Any normal person can handle that."

That's where I went wrong. For a moment I lost sight of the fact that I'm no longer a normal person at all. I don't know what I am exactly, I just know I'm not normal.

I love this metaphor written by another grieving mother and blogger, in which she compares the loss of her daughter to losing a limb, and her resulting state to that of an amputee. I don't want to convey that she means losing a child is like losing a limb - I can safely say both of us would've rather lost all of our limbs than our children - however she so clearly describes the fact that losing a child is a wound that will never completely heal. Though we may try to move forward, we will be forever impaired.

When I registered for my classes and applied for my job one of the thoughts I had was, "it will be good to be super busy in April." April is such a difficult month and I thought that by filling it with things to do I would be able to make it go by quickly, without having to dwell on the anniversary of the accident or Peter's birthday or Easter (the day of my kids' wake). Wrong again! No matter how I try to distract myself, I can't hide from or escape those difficult days. I spend just as much time grieving, only now I have 800 other things I should be doing.

What a mess I've gotten myself into. I'm not exactly sure how to get out of it.

What I've learned is that I can't take on as much as other people. Two classes and a part-time job may not seem like much, but for me it's more than I can handle. I just don't have the mental energy or life force or whatever you want to call it to get things done. So much of my energy goes into holding myself together so I'm not crying all the time, there isn't a lot left for everything else.

I hate admitting this. I hate feeling like I'm using my kids as an excuse for not being able to get things done. But it's the truth. No matter how much I hate it, it just is. I am impaired and I imagine I always will be.

I'm a perfectionist in a way - in the fact that if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all - and I don't want to become a quitter. I will get through these classes (though I may not get A's -ARGH!) and I will not quit my job. I will, however, try to find ways to not get myself into this situation again. Maybe I'll ask for a reduction in my work hours and be more mindful when planning future classes. Maybe the title "grieving mother" would qualify me as a student with a disability and I could have extra time to finish my assignments. Probably not, but you never know.

For now I need to go finish an assignment that was due yesterday (as I mentioned in my last post, I didn't make it to class because I was too sad) and start a project that's due this coming week.

There is one small thing I have gained as a result of losing my kids that "normal" people may not have. That thing is perspective. I know that even if I dropped out of school today and quit my job tomorrow, none of that really matters. The only thing that matters is being with the people you love. Unfortunately, I learned that too late. I'll never forget it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy birthday, Peter!

Well, I'm not in school where I'm supposed to be and I feel pretty bad about that. But it's Peter's 7th birthday and I just can't hold it together well enough to be there. So I'm home, looking through pictures and I found these two that were taken when Peter was 2 years old.

Happy birthday to my baby boy (even though I'm sure you're not a baby anymore)! I love you, Peter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If it fits, it's a carry on...

In June of 2007, Steve and I took Kate and Peter to Disney World as a surprise for Kate's 5th birthday. When we got to the gate in Pittsburgh there was a box showing the acceptable size of a carry on item. In true kid fashion, Kate and Peter both climbed inside.

Peter was eating a bagel with cream cheese (no surprise there) and had cream cheese all over his face:

Kate was just happy:

Here they are, complete with mouse ears and one of Peter's many silly faces:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rub a dub dub...

Scooge in a tub.

Scooge (also Scoogie or Scoogie-man) was one of Peter's nicknames. I think I mentioned it before, but in case you haven't read that far back, there it is. I started calling him Scoogie Woogie the day after he was born (because I'm weird like that) and, for some reason, the Scoogie part stuck.

Anyway, this picture was taken when he was about 8 months old. Peter loved taking a bath. This child would have spent hours in the tub if I would have let him. He would just hang out in the water, playing with his toys and, as he got older, swimming in the tub. I so wish I could just pick up his chubby little baby self, wrap him in a towel and snuggle with him. At least I have the memories. And the pictures. They're far better than never having known him at all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I should be planning a birthday party...

...but I'm not. This Thursday, April 21st, would have been Peter's 7th birthday. He didn't even make it to his 5th, though it had been planned and he was very excited about it. We were supposed to go bowling with his friends and we picked out Batman party invitations. I imagine we would have gotten a Batman cake as well.

I look at his friends who have grown for two years and are turning or near turning seven, and my mind can't reconcile why he's not here. I still cannot wrap my brain around it, even though it's the reality of every day of my life. I don't have the proper wiring in my brain for "my kids have died" and I'm guessing I never will.

Since I won't be celebrating on Thursday I at least want to do something to honor him. Thursdays are my busiest day of school (I have class from 7am to 6pm) so I'll be busy and distracted, but I'm hoping I can find a little time each day this week to share a picture of Peter that most people haven't seen before and maybe a quick story. It makes me so sad when I realize that the pictures I have of my kids are part of a finite collection - that I'll never be able to take another picture of them - though I'm grateful I took many while they were here.

Here's a picture of Peter when he was about two months old. I always felt he was wise beyond his years (or months) and this picture illustrates that completely. Maybe it's just because I'm his mom and I'm biased, but I think he looks like he's fully aware of everything that's going on around him and that at any moment he may start spouting off words of wisdom.

But he's still my baby, and I miss him.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the anniversary, year two

So the day is here and so far I'm ok, though I've only been awake for 10 minutes. Right now I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of peace - I have no idea why but I'm going with it.

I remember last year on the first anniversary I had this compulsive need to relive all of the events of the year before. I kept looking at the clock thinking, "this time last year I was taking Peter to school" or "this time last year we were driving to Erie" etc. It's something I had to do for some reason, but in essence I was just reliving the tragedy of it all.

This year I don't feel the need to do that so I'm going to try to stay present in 2011. Instead of trying to remember every detail of the last time I saw them, I'm going to try to focus on the love that I feel for my kids and from my kids, no matter where they are. The love still exists and it always will.

And, if I relive anything this year, I want to relive some of the wonderful moments and memories I shared with Kate and Peter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where does the time go?

Last week was my week off and I had high hopes for blogging. Now the week is over and I completed almost one post (which I'll publish now even though it's sort of after-the-fact), but that was it.

Now the week of the anniversary is upon me and, though I will be starting my new classes at school and spending time working at my new job, I can think of nothing else. How is it possible that it's been almost two years since I've held my babies?! It doesn't make sense. It's getting difficult to believe that they were real. I know they WERE real and that they still are but somehow, in this physical plane of existence, it just doesn't add up.

I don't know what to do this year on the anniversary. I sort of want to crawl in a cave and hide until it's over however that day, the 6th, is my first day of class. I've emailed my instructor to let him know why I probably won't be myself that day, but I know it will be difficult to even be present in that class. I'm sure he would understand if I didn't come, but I hate missing the first day - I'll feel like I'm behind for the rest of the quarter. I need to find some super-human strength to get through it.

After class I plan to spend time with some good friends and I'd like to do something to honor and remember my kids but I have no idea what. None. Zippo. Not a clue. Maybe this year just getting through the day will be enough.

If you don't hear from me for a week or so, don't worry. I'll be ok. I may find that I need to write because often that's a good way of dealing with my emotions, but I have a feeling I'm going to be more quiet this time around.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen...

I'm happy to report that I have successfully completed my finals and my most recent class at school. I'd be happy to catch you up on what I've been making.

We'll start at the end and go backwards. Here's a picture of my final project:

It's called a Gateau St. Honore and it was created to honor the patron saint of pastry chefs. Who knew pastry chefs even had a saint?!

It's basically like a giant eclair filled with pastry cream and whipped cream. Those spherical things around the outside are cream puffs that have been dipped in caramel. It's a little over-the-top, but it's good and it got me an A :-).

Next we have a Napoleon. Layers of puff pastry filled with pastry cream topped with chocolate and fondant:

We also made cheesecake which I have to say may have been the best cheesecake I've ever had. For real. And I'm not just saying that because I made it. It was really, really good!

Here's a cherry pie with a lattice crust. It wasn't as difficult as I though it would be to make. It was actually a lot of fun.

Ok, I think that's enough. What I'm not happy to report is that I have eaten almost everything I've made this quarter so I have gained a couple of pounds. I'm working on some corrective measures - like eating so many vegetables I don't have room for sweets and getting to the gym more often. I've got to reign it it soon.

This class made quite an impression on me so I've decided to change all of my culinary classes to baking and pastry classes from here on out. I truly love to bake and it's more my speed than cooking. It's somewhat slower paced and more measured and scientific. I'm one of those nerdy types who loves math and science.

I also just landed a job at a bakery that will be opening next week. I'm very excited because I've never actually had a job in the food industry. I'm sure I'll learn a great deal.

I'm a little anxious for this coming month. It will be extremely busy - 3 days of school and 3 days of work a week - but I think being busy in April will be a good thing. If nothing else it will make the month go by quickly.