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I Fought in a War / Everybody lives

I never know what to write here. My internal life, the one inside my head is either moving too too fast to put my feelings into words or so slow that I am stuck in the weeds.

It has been a summer of weeds. Stress levels through the roof, me stuck in long hot days that never seemed to end. I ditched the double stroller and opted for the bus this summer. This decision was at times liberating and at times horrifying. Trying to get two nearly 4-year-olds on a city bus can be hard. Can be like herding cats or rabbits onto a bus. At times I felt like that mean mom that everybody hates, yelling at their kids all the time. Almost everyday, I got tired of the sound of my own voice. But it has paid off. The girls are proper city kids now, riding the bus like pros, knowing not to sit next to creepizoids, etc.

And this is important because next week something magical happens. They will start Pre-K. They will start all day Pre-K at a really great public charter school. And we will take the bus there every day and then I will have 7 hours. Not one. Not two, but 7 hours to myself each day.
And the big super huge deal about wanting to raise my kids in the city is solved. Something I've written about and talked about ever since the girls were in my tummy, swimming and kicking like the smallest fish. It is solved. I am officially raising my kids in the city. And for this working class kid from the suburbs, this is a victory. It is huge and magical.

And the funny thing is that it all fell into place while we were dealing with something unforeseen. While we were hoping Jeff wouldn't die. And it wasn't just me hoping, the girls did a lot of their own wishing along the way. We didn't hide the realities of Jeff's heart failure from them. When your dad gets taken away from opening presents on Christmas morning, it's hard to not know the truth about that. It just seemed like the honest thing to do at the time. I never let them see me cry or get upset, but we also never lied to them. It is the way we have always raised our kids and I don't want to start second guessing it now, but sometimes I do. The girls know that their daddy is "heart sick" and that he will need a new heart some day, but that he loves them and isn't in pain right now. This led to Anya worrying a bunch and making wishes that "everybody lives," but that seems to have subsided a bit. The girls seem to understand Jeff's limitations and don't question too much anymore. It is just part of our life. The girls themselves, have even had their own hearts tested and look great. We told them this, too, that they have nothing to worry about for themselves. It just seemed important to do.

Jeff is stable. His close adherence to his low sodium diet is what seems to be keeping him alive and off the heart transplant list. But the draw back is that he has now lost nearly 50 pounds and is just too skinny for his ICD. The thing protrudes out of his chest like an ipod was shoved in there. So we are on a mission to fatten him up. Sometimes I wonder if I am in denial. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the fear of being left alone to raise two small children. And sometimes I know deep inside that neither is true. I have this place in my mind or heart or whatever, where I know that Jeff is going to survive. And to think anything different is just borrowing trouble. Sometimes I think he is going to survive like this for 10 years and then get a transplant and sometimes I think that someday in a distant future, doctors will shot stem cells into his heart and they will run around and repair the damage. Mostly, I try to live each day as it comes to us and be thankful that Jeff didn't die on Christmas morning. Somewhere, in another dimension, there is a less fortunate Tina dealing with a different reality. I will leave it to that poor soul to handle for the time being.

While the first four years of the girls' lives have literally ended in a fight for survival for Jeff, I do feel like I am finally coming home from a war of my own. For the past 3 years, I have been home with the girls all day and working at night with hardly an hour to myself in between. There have been many many days and months of living on 4 hours of sleep and sometimes less. So it is with joy that I will take the girls to Pre-K next week, come home and do my work during the day like a normal human being and hopefully fit in a movie once a week or some exercise or just some time to sit and be quiet and plot my next project. At the same time, I feel absolutely terrible that I have to leave them for so long at school, that for me to get this much needed sanity, that they have to be away from me. It is heartbreaking and for once in my life I actually can feel what that words means. Guilt gobbles up my insides. My guilt and I will be close friends. She will travel with me on the bus to unknown destinations (between 9 and 3), she will buy me movie tickets and she will provide nightmares during much needed naps. And this is all okay because I am sure it won't last for long because the girls are going to love school.

But when the girls get home, I will finally be prepared to be a full time mom. No computer on, no work undone, my time will be only their time and this, yes this, will make the days with them away from me easier.

I remember that the year the girls were born, Jeff and I used to sing along to this Mountain Goats song and the lyrics went, "I am going to make it through this year, if it kills me." We really meant it, too. Many many days that first year, we thought we would die. And many many days that second year, we thought we would die. But we didn't know the half of it. Now that we have been faced with these past 8 months, now that we know what dying looks like, I can only say this for myself, but there are many many days that I actually think, "We are going to live." Everybody lives.


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Wow, congrats on the new schedule, I hope you find that it works very well! Your family will be in my thoughts.

Holy crap. I had no idea. Words seem pretty inadequate, but, your strength for your family is inspirational. All hopes for the best for you and yours, and soonly.

Ok, now I am crying profusely. I love you and Jeff and your girls. I am glad to know that you have all survived the past and can only look forward to the future and take what it brings in stride. God (or whatever you believe) has a way of placing things in our lives at the right moment, just when we need it most. The girls will love school -and YAY! a charter school at that. That is awesome. You are all in my thoughts and prayers and perhaps I will see you at Crafty Bastards (with Heidi).

I know you're just living your life day to day but I've always thought you were amazing, the way you take care of twins, how you get so much done, and recently with Jeff. I love how you're seeing the positive, yes "We are going to live."

Thanks for writing this. You are an amazing mom and an inspiration. Every day I have to leave my little girl to go to work. I'm lucky that my husband can stay home with her but I have so much guilt. All I can do is what you will do -- in those short hours when I get home until she goes to bed, it is all about her and it's the best I can do.

It's great to hear good news about your family.
It all be ok with the Pre-K, i think too they will love it.
In fact they already have startm right? how it went?

they start next week!!! i will report~ thank you so much.

I am glad things are working out for you and your family. I enjoy your writing and your willing to share your stories - I came to your blog via craftster to buy some lovely ninja necklaces, but I stuck around because of your writing. So maybe with your "free" time, you should try to get your work published.

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