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Fewer Volcanoes

I've been feeling like I need to explain or summarize everything that has happened over the past year or so. Like most perceived pressure and sense of obligation in my life, this is purely self-inflicted, and it has resulted in a longer absence than I probably intended. After the move to our new house last year, as life and routines changed and unexpected surgeries loomed and unknown levels of strife surfaced, I found myself unable to write. At first this happened consciously, but it gradually became buried under layers of ash and hardened lava from the numerous volcanoes erupting around me until at one point it had been buried so thoroughly that I stared into space and numbly assumed my chance to write and my ability to write had passed me by. I told myself in my coping attempt that I was experiencing everything rather than recording it, that I'd have to be thankful enough for the experience to make up for the desire to re-live it at a later date. Then I'd blink, turn my head, see another volcano blast, and run for cover. I didn't have time or the emotional wherewithal to focus on writing or not writing, and now the months and milestones have passed unrecorded, and that in and of itself will ultimately serve as a kind of anti-record, non-reminder, shadow.

I've accepted this, or I thought I had. But in re-reading posts from the time I was writing and recording these experiences regularly, I've realized that my return to attempting to write hasn't felt smooth or natural. I know part of it is lack of habit and routine, part of it is recovery from a year of physical and emotional exhaustion, and part of it is that -- and this is the most profound realization I've had, as obvious as it should have been -- our life has really, substantially changed since we had experiences like the ones I wrote about two years ago. I look back on some of the posts about the kids and it all comes rushing back to me: the shrieking, the chaos, the high, high blood pressure, the never-ending guilt and frustration. Wow! Either all of it ultimately pushed me over the edge, or it was merely boot camp preparing me for surviving the challenges that were to come. Either way, our days don't much resemble the seventh circle of hell anymore, and I say that with complete love for my children at all ages they've seen, but also with complete seriousness. We were in hell! Don't get me wrong. Bryce is as intense and quirky as ever, and Quinn has continued to learn from the master. Things certainly aren't what I would call "quiet" or "dignified" around here. Although we have finally entered the stage where they are on the same eating and sleeping schedule, can communicate effectively with one another by using the English language, and enjoy each other's company, this also means that they are like a traveling circus, cracking each other up and performing loud, obnoxious tricks everywhere they go. But this is so much better than the torture they were putting us through a few years ago. And I missed writing about that transition! It's happened, it's done, and here we are. Now I've got to move on to discussing Kid Issues exclusively; Toddler Fiasco Stage is over. I have never written exclusively about Kid Issues, and because some Kid Issues bleed strangely into Family Issues and Adult Issues without necessarily clean and stable lines between each, I'm still feeling my way through it.

I've been at the computer for a little over an hour, and in that time Bryce has come into my office to admit that he didn't brush his teeth ("do you think I should?" "I would if I were you," I said, like a true pick-your-battles parent), and to tell me softly for the third time about his cobra/vampire nightmare from two nights ago. Two years ago the interactions would have been entirely different, and would have ended with me writing something about my ongoing parental failures and the inevitable emotional scars I would ultimately leave on my intense kids as a result, which would be completely unfair to them since their intensity had been derived directly from me and my intense genes. Tonight, the interaction is only noteworthy against the backdrop of the distant past, and the absence of record of the more recent past. What is noteworthy today is a completely different set of experiences, and I am working up to recording those.

I'm remarkably -- as hard to believe as this is -- at peace with the missing puzzle pieces of this record. It took the absence of material for me to realize how profoundly things have changed. It turns out my coping mechanism was actually working; I did experience rather than record for a while, and although there are experiences I'll never be able to read about, I live with their outcomes every day while this new existence unfolds and I find that the ashes and black rocks are being layered over too, but this time, for now, not with more lava.