Sunday, October 10, 2010

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.

It's been a helluva week!  The kids and I were heavily pressed with homesickness.  Aaron was in Houston for business which, I think, intensified our longings for "home."  One night, I went to check in on the boys while they slept and I found Drew sleeping with a baseball bat.  Heart breaking!  The next night he slept with me.  Gabriel asked me one day if Dad was really going to come home.  Uh...yeah!  Where in the world did that idea come from?! 

On another day, Drew cried and begged me to pick him up from school early because he had art and the last time he had art he spilled paint and got in trouble.  (According to his teacher he did not get in trouble and he did not seem bothered by the incident at all.)  That same day he came home from school insisting that he write his e's, m's, and g's over and over because his teacher said he was the slowest writer in the class.  (Also a gross exaggeration of what happened.)

I cried because it was cloudy.  I cried because I did not check in right at the school.  I cried because we weren't sure if Gabriel should test for GT here.  I cried because my neighbor was so kind and had me over for soup.  I boo hooed like crazy because I found out that, even though I was room mom, I was not going to be planning the class parties.  I was so depressed I got physically ill.  I ate tirimisu, drank hot tea and prayed.  I prayed a lot for this time to pass, for us to feel at home here, and for our hearts to ache less.

I also painted. 

Before we moved here I had a plan to paint the Aspens in the fall.  They have so much interest with their white trunks, black scars, and then the leaves....oh the leaves!  They truly are golden and they look like little gold coins shimmering when a breeze passes through them.  I thought now would be a good time to paint them.  For one because they are brilliant right now and also for therapy. 

I decided to paint a green background.  Aspens grow in clusters and in low places where water puddles so they are often at the foot of a hill/mountain.  The hills are covered in evergreens.  So I decided to start with a pale blue sky and then began my green mountains.  The paint was a little darker then I wanted and I was hoping for a sort of muted, impressionist look, so I added a touch of water to my paint.  This caused the paint to drip some.  I loved the affect!  Now my painting was taking on a mind of it's own.  This was not how I intended for it to go at all but it was really lovely and so I let the paint lead the way.  After the back ground was filled in I began making the Aspen trunks all along the bottom of the canvas.  When I would step back to look I was not sure what to make of it.  The top of the canvas looks very intentional, then it sort of breaks down into this very pretty....mess, and then the Aspen trunks root the painting into purpose again.  I splattered yellow all along the top of the trunks with a bright gold-yellow.

Drew was so sweet.  He wanted to help the whole time.  I would not let him paint but he would get the colors I would need, clean brushes, and then he got a little hand held fan to dry the paint.  We had fun! 

Caren came by to borrow something and to see how the painting was coming along.  She took in the green drips that were sandwiched by mountain peaks and tree trunks and said, "It's kind of symbolic of what you are going through right now, don't you think?"   My wise neighbor.  I immediately liked the piece better; understanding that it was not really a painting of a scenery.

The painting was a fun distraction.  The boys and I finished the week exhausted. 

And then Aaron came home. 

All was right with the world again!  Oh Friday!  What a fabulous day.  The skies were blue, the family was together, I hung out with Caren and some friends for a little Ladies was just great!

Yesterday I took Gabriel to take the GT test.  He needed two #2 pencils.  Of course I couldn't find any.  I fought back tears again.  I had been sent an e-mail to be there at 2 p.m.  When I got there they informed me that he was actually supposed to have been there at 10 a.m.  They said they had sent an e-mail Thursday.  I had not received one.  They still let him test.  I left to run errands; frazzled and annoyed with the lack of communication here.  I came back a little early to pick him up.  One of the ladies doing the testing came out and sat with me on a bench.

"How long ago did you guys move here?" she asked.

"9 weeks."

"Half way through the test Gabe refused to continue.  He was pretty stern with me about it and said that he already took tests in Texas and that Texas was better.  We took a break and eventually reconnected and were able to continue."

I nodded my head, totally understanding how Gabe was feeling and frustrated for him that he has to keep taking tests and proving himself.

"We are all having a hard time with this move," I told her.  "We are trying to adjust to the culture and things.  We are making friends and it's beautiful but we just....want to go home."  Sad to say I started to cry.  Again.

"That's exactly what Gabriel said.  He said he just wants to go home," she said.

The tears would not stop then. 

"I'm sorry.  I'm so frustrated with the lack of communication and I couldn't find #2 pencils and I would just really like for little things like #2 pencils to not rattle my cage."

The lady was so sweet understanding.  I fear that Gabe probably did not do well on his test.  I should have waited for him to take it in the Spring.  *sigh*

Today was another good day.  As a family, we went on an Errand Crawl.  We stopped for lunch at Red Robin and ended up ice skating at a local arena.  Drew was so excited!  He was also really bad.  He fell.  Often.  On his butt.  He did not cry about the fall or being wet.  He kept getting up and pressing on with a great attitude the whole time.  Gabriel did pretty good!  I don't think he fell but maybe 3 times.  He kept one hand on the wall the whole time but he pretty much went off on his own.  Aaron even laced up some skates and got out on the ice for the first time in his life.  I was so proud of my guys.  Drew would shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip, fall, get up, the whole way around the rink.  It was very slow going.  We signed both boys up for lessons.

Drew said, "Mom, I love this!  I am really terrible but I am not going to give up."  He has his mamma's spirit.  I won't give up either, buddy.

Shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip, fall, get up, shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip....


  1. Wow, Michal...oddly enough, this sounds so much like our move to NYC. Of course you're doing it with children to care for and we were on our own. Although, it sounds like you're in a friendlier place and we had to deal with the lack of understanding or cooperative people. It sounds like you have nice people around you. So, it's different I guess, but the same. We still just wanted to go home. And yes, there's nothing much lower than crying ON THE SIDEWALK because we sold our vehicles and home is several minutes walk away. And no one even notices. When I see people crying on the sidewalk, I try to look at them and make them see that I understand...whatever it is.
    Don't feel bad about crying. It's frustrating, especially when it's over the most inconsequential thing. But it really isn't about that inconsequential thing, it's about trying so desperately to have just one day or even one task go right. That one thing that used to be so easy back home for some reason.
    I'm praying for you, my friend. You try so hard to be a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, and a good woman. And you really are all those things. God's got His eye on y'all. Everything is going to be ok. And iceskating is fun! Hang in there McDowells!!!

  2. Michal, I JUST posted on our blog about how our move to Austin is wearing me down in this same way. And we moved closer to family, not away from - I can't imagine. Something as simple as a #2 pencil has set me off on a flood of emotions here during this process as well - you are not alone. Somehow having my kids involved in the messiness of a transition is far more emotional that when I moved to another city when it was just me and my husband. I hate the thought of them feeling the angst that I feel. Hang in there - it will get easier the longer you are there.

    On the bright side, emotions generate good writing material. I love your "shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip, fall" analogy and post ending.