Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results

Various forms of this quote are attributed to various people, including Einstein… the earliest verifiable print reference is the Narcotics Anonymous handbook from 1981 or so…

But you’d think after I made a stupid mistake, thought about it, and even spent a very interesting hour trying to find the quote above that I knew I’d heard somewhere that all those things would come together to keep me from repeating my folly?

But no, I have not been good about learning from my mistakes.  What mistake in particular?

Just wanting to pretend that I was all better and could take care of my family the way I want to.  Wednesday morning the kids went back to school-school after a four day weekend.  Sam had a BIG deal math test, a qualifier for the US math olympiad team.  So I got up early, thinking I’d just putter around a bit and pretend to be a mama who could just tidy up her kitchen and make a little breakfast, like mamas are supposed to do, you know?

I wasn’t up for that long… just enough to clear out the dishwasher, use several pounds (not really) of comet on the counters, make biscuits (from a can) and some scrambled eggs to make sandwiches….. and sit in the kitchen and talk to my children as they ate, and check backpacks for two weeks of papers and forms, and notice that we still need to replace the handle on the microwave door.

So maybe 50 feet of walking, if you add up every step, an hour or so doing a few little things in my kitchen.  Nothing more strenuous than cracking eggs that our friends’ chickens made for us.  Sometimes I forget how much I really, really like my job.   And it’s not the big exciting parts that make me love it, it’s the moments… when a 16 year old smiles at you in the morning because you sneak extra cheese onto his sandwich… when a 4 year old sits on TOP of you every time you’re not standing, just to make sure you stay where he wants you…. when three children say “Hey MOM, can you” all at the same time by accident and everybody laughs….

But once 60 % of my children were out the door, I sort of fell apart.  Well, no, not sort of.  Totally.  Into a big wet puddle of tears and coughing and just about the most pathetic self pity ever.  Of course Dixon came running… what in the world was going on?  Did I have a fever?  is my port OK?  Where are you hurting?

Let’s get you right back to bed where you belong.

Sob.  THAT was the problem.  I wanted to have my nice morning of pretending that it only takes a couple of days home from the hospital to be all back to normal.  …. which of course leads to having to admit to the fantasy that I had gone INTO the hospital healthy, but that’s another story…

I just wanted to pretend for one morning that I wasn’t recovering from invasive pneumococcal disease, that I wasn’t on way too many medicines, that I didn’t have a broken foot, that I wasn’t anemic and short of breath….   and I wanted everybody to play along with me.

Oh well.  Dixon was ever so kind and understanding once I explained… however, repeating the same game and expecting not to crash and burn again yesterday afternoon wasn’t very smart, I don’t think.

So today I resolved not to pretend.  I decided to truly listen to my family when they told me it was who I AM that they value, not what I DO.  But this is so not easy for me.  I just started to wrap my mind around the concept this morning, and then had to go to the pulmonologist’s office for a hospital followup visit.  Out to the car, ride in the car, out of the car, walk to the elevator, up the elevator, down the hall, stand in line to sign in.  sit down in waiting room.  walk back to exam room.  climb up on table.  talk to doctor (who tells me to take it easy, please…  do you see the irony here?) and then repeat it all backwards to get home.

But you know, a week ago I wouldn’t have been able to get from the car to the doctor’s office, no way, no how.  So even though I ended up in a big soggy puddle of tears and runny nose again this afternoon, I must be making progress, don’t you think?  I just wish it were faster.


So I’m back to bed, where I will stay for a while.  Or at least until the urge to pretend becomes too much to suppress.   Meanwhile, everybody else here is thriving.  Emily’s out getting her passport renewed… McGill University in Montreal is on her short list of schools, and she wants to go visit over spring break.  Sam gets his math competition results today.  Brian has taken over a big chunk of night time Danny duty, from bedtime reading to pumper management, and I am so proud of him.  Danny has given up his computer for lent.  No kidding.  And George… what sunshine he is, pure joy and love.

And I will stay in bed and think about Lent.  Speaking of Lent, my friend Rowena found a children’s stations of the cross on line that i really like.   Check it out:

18 thoughts on “Pretending.

  1. Your family is wise. And pneumonia is really debilitating, even without all those added degrees of difficulty. My heart goes out to you, Mama.

  2. Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, what are we going to do with you? If only you could talk to “Dr. Elizabeth Dehority” she would give such great advice…like mamas have to take care of themselves,too, and sometimes it’s just smart to take your doctors advice and…rest, remember? Then again, maybe that’s why most people say doctors make the worst patients, huh?

    I’ve had pneumonia/bronchitis before and I know that alone knocked me for a loop, so just keep reminding yourself…I must rest…I must rest…

    Just remember that special family wants to take care of you…you and Dixon have taught them well

    Love, hugs and lots of prayers!

  3. Elizabeth, You make my heart hurt. You want so badly to be mama that you put yourself at risk. It is YOU they value, just as all of us do. Although I must admit, I really like reading what you have written, short or long, I want most of all for you to feel better. And you are-last week at this time you couldn’t even pretend. You have taken care of everyone for so long, I know it’s difficult to be taken care of. This English teacher knows she ended the sentence with a preposition; I couldn’t work my way around it. Bravo to Brian for being Danny’s go-to guy. Love and prayers.

  4. Hey, Elizabeth, I am glad you are taking it a bit easier- but you are making great progress! My little Sam is just getting back to being himself over the last week- he started his pneumonia on 2nd January, so it will take a few weeks before you can get some stamina back. I was surprised at how it knocked him out- he was quicker getting over open heart surgery (complete AVSD repair). All the resting you are doing is your work at the moment and don’t forget how powerful your prayers are as Blessed John Paul the Great would always remind us, the prayers of those who suffer sickness or infirmity are very powerful before God…..say one for me please! LOL!

  5. Considering that you were able to do all that compared with where you were a week ago, you’re definitely making progress.

    And for the record, you inspire me and give me hope even when you’re stuck in bed, so don’t worry about that.

  6. Elizabeth-
    I appreciate your willingness to be brutally
    honest. It is easy to see that one of your
    strongest “love languages” to your children
    is through acts of service. It’s hard to step
    back from doing that unless you are forced
    to. You and Dixon have opened up so many
    educational and enriching opportunities for
    your children. They are clearly thriving. Not only are they thriving academically and spiritually, they are also loving and taking care
    of each other so well. What valuable character they are developing through the hardship!! Also, one of the best gifts you gave to Jakob
    was listening to him during naptime when he did not want to sleep. Wow! Undivided attention from an adult for several minutes each day? That is huge!! I love that you did that for him. Think of all the parents who feel they are just “too busy” or just don’t know how to talk to their kids. Your undivided attention to and interest in them is a huge gift!! You are an inspiration to me Elizabeth. Praying for your family and your strength and healing!!

  7. Thank you for being real.
    Glad our Jesus loves “who we are”.
    and as you say, not “what we do”.
    I only just started here last week,
    and I like “who you are”.

  8. You are such a blessing to your family even if you take time to rest up longer. It sounds like the kids are showing character beyond their years in how they are holding things together to keep things running. Robyn fought pnuemonia many times for almost 4 years after she came home….4, 5, 6 times per year. It WIPED her out each time…each time was an entire week missed of school and she never even got as sick as you did. She hardly gained any weight for years…whatever she would gain when she was healthy was lost when she was sick. Let your body recover from this….it takes the stuffing right out of a person. Of’s nice that you write while you recover so we can all share in encouraging you as you encourage so many of us. Love your photos today 🙂

  9. Best of luck to Sam … I still have my patches and trophies from Math Olympiads. I loved that program!

    The Dr. visit reminds me of when a friend of mine had her first baby (and pre-eclampsia). Her family Dr (OB and primary care and pediatrician in one) told her “don’t drive for two weeks. Bring the baby in to see me for a well visit in one.” Her MIL was there at the time and pointed out, as the doctor knew, that dh didn’t drive. So just how was she supposed to get to the office? Take the two buses required instead? Dr. retracted. “Okay, you can drive *just* to my office!”

    Do try to rest, for the kids if not for you. Your kids need you to get better more than they need you overextending yourself.

  10. Aaah honey. It must be so hard to be in this part of your journey. Your children what YOU, not what you can DO. And having you in bed, but being there, is so much better than you NOT being around. So take care of you. Give yourself permission to be heal at the pace you have to. Give yourself permission to listen to your body and what it needs. Hang in there. So many people are praying for you and your family.

  11. Your family really is right about loving you for who you are, not for what we do. In fact, we learned about that in regards to the love owed to God at the women’s retreat yesterday. That the most pure form of love for God is for him, not for what he does for us (consolations). Probably something you already know, of course, but it’s so hard accepting it about our own selves as mommies.

  12. Some how I missed a couple of your posts, so I was just scanning them, and the pictures of your boys are awesome! Your oldest is so handsome and your youngest adorable! Thanks so much for sharing those. Your blog makes my day!
    Still praying,

  13. Elizabeth,

    You are an amazing writer (we all know you are an amazing mom even if you feel useless right now!). I can learn a lot from reading your heart-felt, well-written blog posts, which feel so effortless for you to write! As much as I have tried (in writing my memoir about my dad, go here ) I have not been able to let go, to go deep, and you make it look so easy as a writer! I look forward to reading more of your posts and learning from you!

    And take this “down time” to keep on writing, you are brilliant at it!

  14. Your words, your writing your pictures, beautiful. Is there anything you aren’t gifted at? What a blessing to “know” you even tho I’m so far away in MN.
    (((HUGS))) and ALL our LOVE with prayers!

  15. The smallest actions can be so exhausting, no matter how much you want to do them. I love that you are able to stay optimistic about your progress, even though it’s so hard.

    Your children are amazing and strong and optimistic because of your love.

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