Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mixed feelings, part two

I find the concept of having mixed feelings comforting. It's reassuring to know that it's absolutely possible (and normal) to have contradictory emotions.

Yesterday I awoke feeling happy, but surprisingly grumpy. The positive feeling was easy to identify: I was thrilled Big Guy would be leaving the hospital. It took a while longer to figure out that my crankiness was for the same reason. With Big Guy home, life will be more complicated. This isn't his fault, nor is it something for which I blame him. It's just that it's challenging to have a child around who's depressed and irritable. Add four other kids for that irritability to ping on, and life can start feeling like a pinball machine with five balls in play, with lights flashing and bells ringing and Mama flapping her flippers madly to keep someone from falling out the hole at the bottom. It's work.

I don't think I'm a bad mother for recognizing this and feeling a bit grumpy about it. I hold my grumpiness in one hand and my happiness in the other, and by weighing them both I make peace between them. Feelings aren't always a matter of either/or; sometimes they are both/and.

As it turned out, later in the day I appreciated having worked this out in the morning. When I got to the hospital to pick up Big Guy, the doctors took me aside and said the partial hospitalization program wasn't taking any more kids right now. There's an education component to the program, and it's too close to the end of the school year to add new kids.

If I hadn't already hefted the weight of how-am-I-going-to-handle-this, that news would have been overwhelming. Instead, it was like adding another weight to a load I already knew. I sagged a bit, but was able to find my footing.

So Big Guy is home, and our next steps are still undefined. The doctors made some phone calls and did a lot of talking, and they now think they can convince the day program to take Big Guy if his regular therapist and psychologist retain responsibility for his care. But we don't know yet if that will work. We'll find out on Monday. At the earliest. Until then, Big Guy's here full time.

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