Last night L. and I went out with new friends we want to get to know better. It was a nice night out after spending the whole day managing the kids.
We discovered that Jo has been getting only a very scant 2-3 or 2-4 hours of sleep a night. Her anxiety is back to a fevered pitch and she's waking anywhere between 1 am and 4 am after only falling asleep at 11 pm (bedtime is at 9, but she requires a 1 hour bedtime ritual and then requires one of us to sit there in the dim light with her until she drifts off, which can take anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. She sometimes sleeps until 6-8 am, but this is rare anymore. We also discovered that during this time, she has been going downstairs to get on the computer and getting on Youtube, where she trundles around aimlessly, of course finding videos that scare the living shit out of her, because she has always had a preference for the morbid. So now she's terrified of "Jeff the Killer," adding this meme to her pantheon of fears to build into her anxiety and OCD.
Honestly, I just feel completely cut off at the knees. We're installing Net Nanny or something similar, but the anxiety is like "whack-a-mole" and as I have learned through bitter experience, it will resurface somewhere else. I know it's certainly treatable and we are working on getting the right treatment plan into place (in fact I just left a message for one of the psychiatrists recommended to us and will call another shortly), but right now things feel very out of control.
Add to this that thanks to inclement weather, we'd been trapped in the house with the kids for four out of the past six days. First we got snowed in on Thursday; then Friday was too cold to take them outside given Jo's eczema; then Saturday we did manage to get to synagogue, but it was Shabbat and we really couldn't do anything with them outside the house and they refused to go play in the snow. Then Sunday was an ice-storm, followed by rain and then followed by a playdate with Jo's friend who also has some significant special needs. We knew we were getting ourselves into trouble but there was just nothing else to do with the kids.
Jo's friend came over and just GAH. Lawrence had had to work earlier that day, so I'd tried to play with the kids then, but this devolved into a long and complex crying jag on Jo's part over a) my having taken away the random Youtube searching that is exacerbating her anxiety and obsessive, intrusive thoughts, b) our refusal to buy her a cat now that she is no longer very interested in the dog ("I just feel that if I have a cat, then I will have the two best kinds of pets and then I won't feel the need to ask for other pets..."), and c) my telling her that when she is all grown up and has her own apartment and her own job and can take care of an animal by herself, then she can get herself all the cats she wants, but nothing else that urinates and defecates is coming inside this house except to visit, period. Her response, between sobs: "It's when you say "never" that I get upset, Ellyn! I feel like growing up is such a long way away and I'll never get a cat when it's the most important to me!" *Huge tears welling up and spilling over her eyes and down her cheeks like waterworks* So there was then much talk about her needing to demonstrate over the course of years that she can maintain attention, responsibility, etc. to care for the cat herself, because Daddy and I have enough to do with our jobs and Muppet and her, Henry and Adam. I got exactly nowhere except that now she thinks that she'll have a cat in a few months if she just occasionally feeds the dog and lets her out.
So there was this all morning instead of the fun craft-time I had arranged to keep them both the hell off the internet all day.
Then Jo's friend came, so I set them both up with craft-time at the kitchen table while Jo nattered on about having OCD and so they couldn't go online, and then Nora (the friend) got panicked and wanted to use the internet, so I had two of them plus Henry trying to negotiate about computer time. I calmly did the dishes and did not give in, and then they all settled down but started screech-singing. I already had a headache from dealing with, "I feel like I never have anything good happen in my life, I want a cat so much! I would cry from happiness if I had a cat!" all morning and now this. I told them to please stop, I couldn't take the shrieking, and while Nora politely stopped and Henry wandered into the next room, Joanna came over to me at the sink, and eyes aglow with happiness and mischief (honestly, she was just being mischievous, not defiant, exactly), started shriek-singing even louder, right in my face. This prompted Nora to start up again too, so I bellowed for them to be quiet. They did immediately quiet down, but this episode scared Joanna, and for the remainder of the day she kept asking for the passphrase that would tell her I wasn't an alien.
Things went their normal way after that, with all three kids in the basement shrieking song lyrics at the top of their lungs
Now during all this, Lawrence was upstairs. I had told him to go rest a bit because he worked all morning. However, I thought he also had more work to do, so when he didn't come downstairs for nearly 2 hours, I didn't want to disturb him. So for about two hours, I managed the kids' constant attempts at negotiating computer time ("well, if I can do X and Z, then maybe I could do X of Y and Z of Y, right?") and requests for food (Nora's mother placed her on a diet and she constantly tries to wangle food out of everyone else). He finally came down and took over, but copped to having intended to spend 10 minutes on SimCity but accidentally spending 1.5 hours. I get it, this has happened to me, and frankly, if I could have hidden from the kids, oh man, would I have hidden.
Finally, around 5:00, Nora went home, and Joanna was calmed down enough from her day that she wanted to study Hebrew with Lawrence (she's embarrassed that Henry, who is three and a half years her junior, knows way more Hebrew than she does). So this was nice, but my nerves were just shot and I could not rejoice. There was no joy in Mudville.
Lawrence took the kids to Shasta's after that and I tried to calm down and couldn't. I knew this was not a good scenario for the remainder of the evening, but I was well and truly blasted both by Jo's anxiety and all the shrieking peppered with Very Lawyer-ly Negotiating" for hours and hours.
So here is where I was a shithead. We went out to dinner with our new friends and at some point mid-dinner (after three margaritas had finally kicked in -- I have no idea what they put in those things, but it isn't alcohol, that's for sure) Lawrence mentioned that he spends an inordinate amount of time on SimCity, and I quipped that yes, he's on SimCity while I'm watching the kids.
Our friends' faces registered momentary horror. UGGGGGHHHHHHH.
It was not good, my friends. I am a bad wife. I do suck. I really do. My poor L. I hate that I embarrassed him and I'm worried these people think I'm a terrible, terrible person.
Ugh, ugh, ugh. I stink.