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Sculpting Stalagmites

Our recent cold snap has Alex fretting (rightfully so) about frozen pipes. The Kid and I are instructed to leave cabinet doors open and faucets dripping. We have some space heaters pointed just so at pipes on exterior walls and if Alex gets up to pee in the middle of the night, he flushes the toilets.

I understand that all of these will save us money by preventing burst pipes in the long run and most of them don’t bother me. However, the dripping faucets do overpower my sensory system.

I have very specific auditory triggers that overwhelm my brain. I blame spending some of my first months of life under a blanketed coffee table with a humidifier because of pneumonia. One very strong trigger is the soft ‘p’ sound. Some people pronounce that sound in such a way that I want to tear my ears off. I had a boss once who talked to me often about our PELP grant (two soft Ps and she said the word like ‘pulp’ but with an e) and I had to take a nap after those meetings. I know that ASMR videos are a thing right now but when I accidentally find myself listening to someone whisper into a microphone, I want to throw my phone across the room. Another auricular pet peeve is when there are particular shoes that make clapping footstep sounds that really annoy me. When a cinematic sound effects team throws in loud, unnecessary footstep sounds, I find myself reaching for the remote.

Small, persistent noises also annoy the bejesus out of me.

Like the drip, drip, drip of a faucet.

Thankfully, I sleep with earplugs and Alex has been merciful about letting me babysit the kitchen sink faucet so I don’t have to listen to dripping all day but last night, I laid in bed reading my book, listening to the slow steady beat of drops of water hitting porcelain. I find it hard to focus on anything else. While it’s a very quiet sound, it sounds loud to me.

I love when movies or TV shows show the slow passage of time by zooming in on a faucet dripping. Sometimes, it drives the character mad but it almost always symbolizes that life is so quiet that the dripping faucet can be heard.

Maybe it’s COVID. It’s definitely parenting. But life has felt very…the same.

It’s work, cook, clean, parent, sleep until the weekend and then rinse, wash, repeat.

Drip, drip, drip.

The Kid has a job that keeps us local most weekends and The Baby doesn’t seem to mind if he’s at home or out and about. It’s all the same to him.

With COVID easing, you’d think that we’d be eager to get out and do something but with a teenager and a nonambulatory child at home getting out is harder than we think. We like to go out and walk local trails but we have to carry The Baby and sometimes the emotional battle it takes to get the teenager out of the house isn’t worth it. (All parents of teenagers, CAN I GET AN AMEN, PLEASE?)

A few months ago, I dragged The Baby down to the Dallas Museum of Art when The Kid and Alex went camping. I put The Baby in his gait trainer so he could get some walking practice. He walked up the large main foyer, stopping to screech, or occasionally to look at some art. He let me drag him around the gardens outside. We walked to the park across the street and sat in the grass to people watch. Then we went home.

Does he remember that? I don’t know. Did he love it? I don’t know.

I know I was sweaty and tired and my back was sore.

Sometimes, I feel like it’s hard to make an effort when I don’t really know if he’s even really enjoying himself. This is probably something that I should explore in counseling but I imagine that lots of parents who are parenting kids with disabilities feel. And, honestly, lots of people in general.

COVID has shortened my capability to socialize. I feel like I need longer recovery periods after hanging with a friend. While I’m allowing that my mental health demands this, it means that I spend more time at home, doing the same old, same old.

Drip, drip, drip.

Honestly, I don’t know what the solution is. You might be wondering why I don’t just go out, find things to do, people to see. I could certainly find any number of things to do in my thriving metropolis any night of the week.

But I can’t seem to muster up the energy to do so.

It’s kind of a ‘damned if I do and damned if I don’t’ situation. It’s fine. It is what it is, right now. Someday, I won’t feel this way anymore and that’s okay too.

I was reflecting on dripping water and I remembered that the stalactites and stalagmites in caves are formed from drops of water, sometimes over thousands of years. In the short term, I’m sure that the new caves were probably very underwhelmed about the drips of water until they realized what a cumulation of drippy days can do. Perhaps they wanted a rushing waterfall or a raging subterranean river, but instead, they got a millennia’s worth of water droplets, leaving mineral deposits behind in their memory.

So, for now, while we’re in a holding pattern, I’m spending my precious energy when I must and trying to appreciate the time that I have to sculpt some stalagmites with the quiet drip, drip, drip of a currently quiet life.

3 thoughts on “Sculpting Stalagmites

  1. Beth, here you have gracefully blended the muse of your angst with stories of your external world and peeks into your internal world.

    It is fascinating to me how you can take the common experiences of ordinary life and transform those into a platform for storytelling and sharing valuable insights.

    In many ways, you are giving words and a voice to the angst of other mothers.

    Here you have plowed another row in a massive field that will become an inspiring ebook for parents of special needs kids.

    I feel grateful that the blog technologies allow us to connect.

    PLEASE keep writing such blog posts.

  2. When I have needed to cope with a dripping faucet sound in the past what worked for me was to put a sponge or towel at the landing place of the drip.

    An alternative could be to run a cord, yarn, or jute along the path of the drip. The faucet would still continue to remain slightly active. But the sound would not be present.

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