Stress is a dangerous thing. It makes you forgetful and accidents tend to happen. You also engage in subconscious self sabotage type behaviors.
For instance, today. I feel totally exhausted. Limp. My battery is completely drained.
The last few days have been very stressful and I really didn’t want to go anywhere today. It just so happens that I have a prenatal appointment, but when I got in the truck I realized that it wasn’t going to start. I had left the key in the ignition in the “accessory” position, all night long. Dead battery.
Funny how that works.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what about the last few days was so difficult. The obvious answer is that we took care of 3 extra children for 4 days, one of whom has special needs and is mostly wheelchair bound. But I didn’t have a ton of extra work to do, really. Other than making sure everyone was comfortable and entertained and had a place to sleep, it wasn’t physically difficult. I think the main thing was the emotionally stressful experience of not knowing when the children were leaving, or what was expected of me while they were here.
We weren’t prepared, in other words. An older friend of ours, a single woman who had adopted her 3 grandchildren, ended up in the hospital having major surgery. We didn’t know they were coming until right before they were dropped off at our home. We didn’t know how long they were staying. And I had no instructions or guidance from their mother on how to care for the handicapped child. I am not the kind of person who does well when I don’t know how to behave in a particular situation.
(Later on we found out that there was a 4 page letter with instructions at the children’s home, noone had told me about it.)
Another issue may have been the children’s behavior. For the most part they were no trouble and got along well with the other kids. But there were a few very obnoxious exceptions. My husband was stressed from the get-go because as soon as he picked them up, they began complaining about a) our vehicle (huh?) b) having to leave their house to spend the night at ours c) how the other people who had stayed with them were horrible, etc.
It put a bad taste in his mouth that never left. We were never once thanked for our hospitality, for putting our own kids on the floor so they could have the beds, for eating our food, for readjusting our lives. They never offered to help out around the house and barely acknowledged us in the morning or when my husband came home from work. The manners of the boys were definitely lacking. I realize they were in a bad situation and were no doubt uncomfortable having to stay away from home, but some behaviors (like interrupting me, talking about too personal topics, backseat driving, being critical, not obeying, etc) are unacceptable in my own children and intolerable in someone else’s child.
I kept reminding myself that I was doing this for their mother, whose self sacrifice in caring for them I admired very much (she is an older, retired lady and it can’t be easy for her to care for 3 tweens, not to mention one with handicaps). And it wasn’t as if anyone else was stepping up to the plate to stay with them. I didn’t want them to be at their house overnight without adult supervision. I thought about what I would want someone to do if I were in the hospital with noone to care for my children.
Not to mention we may have, our our desire to be good Christians and help widows and orphans, stepped into a mess. Apparently a friend of the family was given a large sum of cash to distribute to people who stepped up to help the children. He offered us some money initially and we refused it. But then two trusted people advised us that we needed to accept the money because this individual was doing nothing yet keeping the money for himself. So we called him and told him we would accept something after all.
All the while our intention was to give it back to the mother as soon as she was home from the hospital. We just wanted to get at least some of it out of the hands of a questionable individual. This person began attacking my husband’s motive and the character of a mutual friend and got extremely defensive. Then he had the nerve to ask for my husband’s bank account information (we’re total strangers, by the way). The whole thing immediately smelled fishy and we were sure the two friends who advised us to take the money were spot on in their assessment – this guy had already spent the cash, despite doing almost nothing personally to assist in the children’s care.
Whew. After typing that out I suppose I have good reason to be exhausted.
Sadie has put a lovely tea party on the table. I think I’ll go enjoy some brownies and Earl Grey.