Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 41

Ever since my kids hit school age, I've carped and moaned about høst ferie in early October and vinter ferie in late February.  They're a week long school break (every year the same week--week 41 for høstferie, week 9 for vinter ferie*) and every year I've grumbled, "A week?  A whole week?  Didn't they just start school?  Do they really need a whole week right now?  A long weekend sure, maybe.  But a whole week?  How absurd!  How wasteful!  How perfectly inconvenient!"

Then I went back to school last winter.  And it all began to make sense to me.

To say I was ready for this week long break is a bit of an understatement.  To say my brain was fried, and I was in need of a week long break from studying is still a bit of an understatement.  To say my brain was first battered, then fried, then shredded and finely minced for good measure, and that I was in need of flash freezing and a week long rest in cold storage is coming much closer the truth (albeit metaphorical) of the matter.

It's not just the classes.  I'm taking physics and chemistry, and I find both subjects challenging to say the least.  And, of course, it's all taught in Norwegian, so I have the additional hurdle of having to make my own understanding of all this new and intellectually demanding material make sense in a language that is not my own.  My fresh-faced, eager young classmates don't have to do that, and I find I resent it.

Also absent in my fellow students' lives--children.  Three children who must be fed, chauffeured, occasionally chastized, often nagged, tutored and read to, not to mention just plain listened to every once in a while, and at the end of the day made to feel nurtured and loved and wanted.  Here too, I find I resent that I'm presumably the only one in my classes struggling to balance both studying and parenting.  And in resenting my childless classmates, how can I help but start to resent the presence of my own children?

It hurts my heart to say, to even think, such a thing.  But there it is.  I resent my husband too.  I resent his job for taking him away from home so much, and throwing such a disproportionate amount of the parenting responsibilities on my shoulders.  I resent his success because it only means that I can't really complain.  He's extremely good at what he does, and to ask him to step back, to help me (cuz' he'd do it, see, he loves us, and he'd do pretty much whatever I asked him to do) would be to essentially ask him to quit.  He's always on the verge of something fantastic, something truly, career-makingly spectacular.  One of these days, one of these glorious projects is going to round third base, and slide on into home.  And that would be it for him.  He'd be set for life. I cannot, I will not ask him to step back now.  Afterall, it's not his fault that I was lazy, and I foundered for so long trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and then summon up the gumption to actually go back to school and do it. 

He's been rather wonderful though, ever since I did ultimately decide. Encouraging me.  Supporting me.  Cheering me on.  But even this unequivocal enthusiasm I resent a bit.  He expects great things of me.  Perhaps even a greatness, eventually, equal to his own.  He says simply, that I'm clearly capable of it.  But with that expectation comes a huge amount of pressure.  I'm not allowed to simply float.  I suppose that even without him there egging me on, I'd put the pressure on myself to get far more than merely adequate grades. That's just the kind of girl I am. But feeling him there behind me, expecting it of me...

The resentment, it just grows and multiplies.

It's this, really, that has been fucking so thoroughly with my brain, and from which I needed the week long break.  I've got to find some way to put it all in perspective, or it's going to break me in two, and I'm going to have to quit.  I don't want to quit because I like it.  I like having a direction and purpose to my days.  I like the challenge of learning new and difficult things.  I love the heady buzz of getting a good grade on a difficult test.  But I keep catching myself thinking, "Why can't my kids just go away?" and "Why is my husband so useless?"

It's wrong.  It's unfair.  And I can't do it anymore.  My kids are delightful, my husband is far from useless, and I deserve to enjoy them.


For now, I'm on my own.  Mister has taken the kids to his mother's.  He's gone hunting.  And I've got a box of rosé and season 6 of Lost to rediscover.  I can honestly say, I resent none of these things.  I am at peace.

*These are the weeks that apply to Bergen.  Other cities have their høst and vinter feries in either the week before or the week prior to ours.  They stagger it this way, apparently, so the entire population doesn't migrate en masse to the hyttes (cabins) and various resort destinations, thus causing a catastrophic shift in land mass distribution, and, theoretically at least, causing the earth to move off its axis.  This is the shit I get to think about now that I know all about Newton's laws of motion....


Anonymous said...

skinny's mom...Oh JEDA you are so incredible. I marvel and yes, envy the life you have carved out for yourself. Hang in there I am confident you will succeed. Just remember not to give up the writing. I think your ultimate goal should be author. I'm just saying.... Love ya, Linda

Guitar said...

Look...I understand too little too late. I realize there are things you say and do you can never take back. But what would you be if you didn't even try? You have to try. So after a lot of thought, I'd like to reconsider. Please......If it's not too late. Make it a cheeseburger.

Anonymous said...

Chemistry is hard. Chemistry AND physics is REALLY hard. Chemistry and Physics in Norwegian? DAMN!!! It's a good thing you understand the benefits of wine and down time! Enjoy them both while they last. Mom

Jaymo said...

Chemistry and physics both suck, in any language, unless that's what you plan to do with your life. Even then, I suspect the fundamental courses suck just a little bit. I'm a "degree in later life" person myself, and I salute you for the work you're putting in to it. Yes, it is much harder for you than for your little classmates...kudos for you.

Alpha Grandpa said...

It seems like I had a few of the same thoughts about younger students when I went back to school too.I also felt a bit of guilt about leaving the kids 20 hours a day. I also remember how great it felt to accomplish something that I thought was out of my reach. Hang in there babe, it'll be worth it.