Full Mailbox: 8-5-11

Mom’s Day Out: Mom’s Day Out hit all the right notes. The Frick Collection has many of the great masterpieces I studied on slides decades ago in college. Walking through its majestic rooms with Bellini’s St. Jerome, the Van Dykes, El Grecos and Turners, presumptuous as it sounds, felt like greeting old friends. “Oh there you are.” The line at the Alexander McQueen show required a two-hour wait (I went on the line twice, left the first time bored to tears to see the Franz Hals show) but I did finally see the show later in the afternoon, which is worthy of its hype. I walked fifty blocks round trip down to 57th and back up through Central Park, midtown a tower of babel, hundreds of languages, hordes of families from the world round tasting of the heat and the treats of a summer in the city. Great fun. And finally dinner with my childhood pal, herself a treat.

What Falls Between The Cracks: I called our daughter while on line the second time, knowing she had completed her volunteer work at the library and the day’s scheduled programming. “The Mailbox is full and cannot accept any messages.” First time that has happened. O.K. When I reached her via her staff she said her ear still hurt. O.K. again. Though the line I was on at that time was in the balcony of the second floor of the main hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an echo chamber hall full of hundreds of people patiently waiting, I did manage to reach the doctor’s nurse who reassured me that swimmer’s ear can take 4-5 days to heal. O.K. again. Now what about the mailbox? Our daughter said she would take care of it, and knew how to delete the messages. But this a.m. the mailbox remained full.

Personal Grooming Challenge: On the drive in to NYC, I spoke with the residential coordinator regarding grooming of nails, toenails and the ever-personal shaving of body parts. Apparently staff have offered to help with these tasks but our daughter is refusing. I suggested giving her options: a mani-pedi (which she rejected last week) or staff help. The shaving is more problematic but we will offer options there too. I am proud that she is determined to be independent and as the coordinator reminded me, the staff are new to her as well and this is very private stuff. I will pick up my favorite razor for her today on the way over for the luncheon outing with her school chum and mom. My point here is that all this speaks to why our daughter is special…with special needs. The mailbox is full and the nails are growing long and all of this requires a conversation and a plan so that nothing important falls between the cracks.

Intense: The word is out that I am intense! No kidding! And as someone asked ,”Intense about her daughter?” It is the old theme, one I share with my patients. When threatened we react, fight or flight. And anything that slips between the cracks that I think is important (not the phone nor the nails, but ears yes), I get intense. It is not a pretty picture and one for which I can feel both ashamed and embarrassed. Or forgiving of myself. Usually it is a combination of all three emotions with the decision, if appropriate, to apologize to the object of my intensity. But only if I have acted badly. If I just sound intense, worried or specific regarding my expectations, which are in keeping with a designated task or responsibility, I let it be. The ear issue is a typical example of a mother’s spiraled thinking. First I think pain, and feel sadness for my kid, worsened infection if not treated properly and quickly. Then I think, she needs the swimming exercise and this could mess that up if she doesn’t get the right treatment and follow-up. And on it goes, anticipating what could be impacted, what could be lost. What might I have to do to fix it? Voila, the intensity.

It has been a long life and a long road and raising children taps an intensity in me, but not the only intensity. Intense is intense or as my husband says, “in tents.” That’s me, spending some moments closed off in a tent of my own making…get me out of here.

Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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