+ 3 days heavy rain
+ 300 square feet living space
Four cases of cabin fever😿
Normally, this really wouldn’t be a problem. I’m actually a homebody anyway. Running around interrupts our normal routine, and I put off taking trips to town.
Here–it’s different. I think we all welcome getting out even if only for the extra elbow room we get while we’re gone. When rain comes, and it finally did, even to California, it adds challenges we don’t encounter at home. No room to really get any exercise, or get the wiggles out. That’s kinda major with three boys. I really think that the not getting out factor did a lot in the way of pushing all of us into the hyper-irritable, hyper-sensitive, and just hyper-hyper mode.
School was a slog, attitudes challenging, mine included, and no one had any particular desire to do anything that we could do inside. One particular instance where two children made a simple choice to do something they knew was off limits literally sent me into a personal crisis. Nothing dangerous, just a very heavy cloud began to settle over my spirit, and I took the offense personally as a mom. I began that downward spiral of believing that my kids were bad, that I was a terrible mom, and that I would do anything just to get a break from it all. Well, like I said, it’s hard in a little living space to find an empty corner for some personal space and alone time, which I occasionally do require (ok, I crave it), and this day was no different.
I now realize that I was starting to experience some symptoms of burnout. Irritable, probably tired, although I didn’t feel it; resentful toward my husband’s “freedom” to get out, no desire to do anything with the “monsters”, aka my boys. I just literally felt fed up. I am not proud of this feeling, but it was very real, nonetheless. I really just felt like doing one of two things–getting out alone, or–crying. I ended up doing the latter some and retreated into my pitiful little world for awhile. That didn’t help.
I needed a new approach, or I’d end up making things worse for everyone. I decided to put on a happier face for awhile, and try out some change of scenery–so we went to the RV next door and shared some pictures with our older friends. Something about service, even this wasn’t exactly that, takes us out of our natural feelings and helps better feelings to come in. At least it burned up some time for us.
We came home and decided to try a game. We had a neat one that we’d picked up for $2.50 at a thrift store about the Lewis and Clark adventure. That helped too, to get through the evening.
However, when evening passed, I still found those overwhelming thoughts rushing in. Lying thoughts about my family, about me, and about life. It seemed like I was trapped. Rain still fell steadily, and the outlook for the next day looked pretty bleak.
You may wonder why in the world I just didn’t go somewhere! It’s a fair question. We actually did get out of the RV the day before, to do laundry and grocery shop, but to me, taking three little pent-up packages of boyish energy into anything smaller than a football stadium felt more and more like a crazy experience. I mean, let’s be honest–the energy has to go somewhere! In this case, somewhere equals the shopping carts, grocery aisles, each other–you name it, it’s going to release one way or another. And you end up with feeling like you’re directing a circus of bouncing orangutans and octopuses through the aisles. Our boys are not bad, but we certainly have our share of collective energy between the three. To them, no action is complete without sound effects–so picture every turn: “vroom, screech, broooooom-broooooom, beep-beep,” engine noises, back-up beeps, you make it; if a machine makes it, my boys imitate it. ALL THROUGH THE STORE. I’m one who has to think as I go along, and so this makes it take quite a bit more time–shushing them and such. These things would be fine in their place–a large area outdoors, but inside the store, RV, or laundromat, engine noises times three make me begin to come unraveled. 😯
But that’s only one reason, and not really the main one. Because there have been places we’d like to go see that we haven’t. Until now, when we wanted to go somewhere, we could get to somewhere interesting by walking. Our first park had walking trails to downtown, through the woods, and all over. The first and second parks had nice playgrounds, and interesting things to do within the park. So we never really had to drive. Oh, in that RV park that was like a big park, I did drive, but it was always forward. We had nice large turn-around area, and a pull-through parking spot. So, I didn’t have to address what now stared me in the face. I was afraid. Of that truck. I almost took it out several times when we first got here, but something always prevented it, much to my secret relief. It may sound silly, but I seriously was terrified to take that thing out, fearing I would get it into a tight spot and have to back it up, which is where my fear lies. I’ve never been a truck-driving kind of girl, and, while I admire my husband’s driving skills, I’ve never wanted to perfect the process of steering a big ship of a truck anywhere. It just scares me when I can’t see around the big sides, and it scared me to the point of paralysis. 😳 So, I was in a prison because my own fear.
Many times the boys had pleaded with me to just go somewhere–the train, the library, the store, wherever, and they didn’t know why I told them no. So, they felt frustrated, and, honestly, so did I. My fear was actually trapping all of us.
That night as I lay in bed, the monster of fear threatened to take over. The “what if” scenarios began to play out in my mind. “What if I hit someone while backing up? What if I couldn’t get the truck started while we’re out? What if, what if…”all the way to fearing about our trip home and me driving some big truck all across the country. Yikes! I can’t even drive three hours without having to stop several times due to feeling drowsy. So, as I gave in to one fear, more crept in.
Long story short, I woke up the next morning, while still carrying the feelings of despair, determined to give my burdens to the Lord. I began the day with prayer for wisdom and direction, and courage. I knew that I needed peace of mind more than I needed to check one more day off for school. I knew we all needed a day to breathe easy and just enjoy each other, which, sadly, sometimes we miss.
I made my choice. We packed sandwiches, got in the truck, and cranked it up. That was the hardest part. I knew once we rolled away that we would probably be just fine. And we were. Yes, there were a few lurches and jolts as I got the gear shifting process smoothed out, and we just parked toward the back of every parking lot we came to, with plenty of room on either side and behind.
We set out on a mission to find inside activity supplies, so we need never despair on the next set of rainy days! We found lots of glitter, beads, glue, and other supplies to create fun crafts. So, future posts will show pictures of that process. We also found lights to brighten up the RV–strings of Christmas lights–one for each boy to use as he wished to decorate his own bed.
We took a fun side trip along the way to the stores, and stopped at the train depot in Colfax. That’s where we ate our lunch as we watched for the train. This depot had a nice little park area with benches right along the tracks, and a history museum. The museum was tiny, but we met such a nice lady inside to talk with. She invited us to some of the town events coming up and shared postcards with us.
A change of pace and environment did wonders for all of our attitudes. Yes, we still had machine noises in the store, and, yes, we still have our personality clashes and character issues to deal with, but for that day, the tide turned for us, for me. No longer am I paralyzed by the thought of taking the truck out, although I still am intimidated by parallel parking it. I don’t anticipate that I’ll ever tackle that, but I can use it to do what we need to do, and so I feel like I’ve had a victory.
I later came across a story in the book Love and Respect in the Family, told by Sarah Eggerichs, wife of the author. The story really resonated with how I felt. The family was on vacation, and the three kids in the backseat started the squabbles. No intervention helped, in fact, things got worse. Finally, at one point, Sarah, the mom, defeated and discouraged, said, “I give up”. At the next rest area, while the husband wisely shuttled the kids to the bathroom, she found herself staring at the group of Harley guys nearby, and began fantasizing about riding off down the road with them. She really didn’t want to ditch her family with the motorcycle guys, and I didn’t really want to either (well, maybe long enough to go out and get a smoothie or something 🙂 ), but at that moment, escape seemed like a nice option. Burnout and defeat hit everyone at times. There are many different reasons, so there is no “one size fits all” solution. But, I think that one step that worked for me was recognizing the problem, and changing gears in some area, instead of continuing to grind at the one that’s not working. We all need a little break sometimes. 🙂