Thumper is not just the bunny in Bambi

I woke up at 4a this morning. Just woke right up. I don’t know why. This is unusual for me. I am a night person so often don’t go to sleep until midnight to start with. Then can sleep solid until at least 10 minute before the alarm. Yep, almost every single time I set it whether for 6 or 9, I will wake up before it. SMH

Anyway. About Thumper. Occasional nickname from childhood. When I was 2 years. 5 months and 21 days old, my middle brother was born. I apparently wasn’t keen on this development. It was then I took to thumbsucking. That is not unusual I understand for a child to take on some habit or some behavior when a new baby comes along. But I took that another step I started thumping. I think we can all get the idea that thumbsucking was a self soother. But thumping is a whole other level of anxiety manifested.

I don’t know the best way to describe this but will try. First or middle finger on either hand, usually on a pillow. Find a spot on said pillow and basically go to town drumming, thumping on the pillow. The pillow can’t be soft or mushy but has to have enough wad up ability that when I thump on it and this is usually one finger at a time, it makes a sound. I will often switch fingers during same thumping sesh. I have strong fingers though so there’s that. My piano teacher wasn’t so thrilled as pianissimo was more like fortissimo while trying reeeaally hard to comply its direction.

And it isn’t quiet as oh so many people have pointed out over the years. Yea you read that right. Years. While I stopped sucking my thumb early, ok by 9 years old and it was only occasionally at night when really stressed, tired or upset. Elementary school, the struggle was real folks, amirighr? I however have kept thumping going on 51 years.

It doesn’t happen all the time. In fact I think I went several years thumping free. It is a self soothing habit. It is a bit mindless as I can do it and not realize until my BFF L glares at me and says stop it! I can thump on the seams of jeans. Now that is a good sound. But pillows are the best. It is fast too. And I am sure as annoying as a woodpecker on a tree outside a window but think woodpecker next to your head if you’re in bed next to me.

My most recent husband has known me for 25 years and like many close friends knew of this because I was made fun of by  first husband and BFF, and we were all friends. And my parents and brothers. All of them I pretty much ignore as it doesn’t bother me. But my recent husband would ask at least what’s bothering me if I started to absent mindedly start thumping while watching TV in bed or just laying there trying to fall asleep. Sometimes there wasn’t anything upsetting me st all. Sometimes it is just a self soother, and I don’t know I need soothing. I think the thumping of late has gotten worse. More often faster and louder. I know it is weird I really do. I could be doing much worse things right? Drinking drugs death defying stunts. Right?

In addition to my parents, brothers and assorted friends being aware and eye rolling over this my college age kids have seen this. They think it’s kinda funny and weird but hey they are kids who slept with baby blankets and stuffed animals until end of high school. And still with the animals and I don’t make fun of that! It’s cute and endearing. But well it isn’t loud so there’s that I suppose. 

So back to 4a this morning and now 545a as I type this which again is not like me. Thumping away in between typing and thinking what I might type next. Picture me laying in bed, propped on a pillow sorta with the iPad resting on my thighs knees bent. I just put my hand up near my head and thump on pillow. Magic.

I know I am anxious right now.  My son leaves tomorrow for a study abroad for 12 weeks. He’s excited and I am excited for him but I have panic over it that I wish I could set aside. Will miss him terribly. That’s normal. My kids are seriously my favorite fun funny people.  I hate that my mind goes all over the place with worry about his safety. He takes medication daily as well and while I know he is compliant I can’t bear the thought of him having a medical situation 6 hours time difference, a 10 hour flight plus 3 hour train ride away. Yes that whole travel time he’s making that alone is going to send me into mad thumping. I just know it. He’s been at college for 2.5 years, not like I seem him everyday usually but still. He’s my baby all 6’7″ plus with size 16 feet. 

I quote movie lines a lot. A lot. I say this about parenting to my kids and others often paraphrasing from the movie Parenthood which I saw with my late husband before we even thought of kids. You never get a touchdown dance in raising kids. I was totally Gil, played by Steve Martin and Ray my husband was totally  Mary Steenburgen’s  Karen. Our approach to the movie and when we were parents. 

The actual line is “There is no end zone. You never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance. Never.” ― Frank Buckman Parenthood

I mean SERIOUSLY if I ever wanted to stop thumping joining a convent might have been in order. (See what I did there order? Religious order? Totally didn’t plan that) 

           Side story on worrying about the kids. When they went to kindergarten I told their dad after drop off let’s not talk about this until after we are all home tonight. He looked at me as often did with a funny look like oh my stars what now. I told him “look I know rationally they will be fine but my mind races down a train track with scary scenery out the windows, mean or molesting teachers or janitors, bullies etc. so I have to pretend to get through this day that I don’t have children. In fact why are are we standing on the sidewalk at an elementary school! We don’t have kids!” He shook his head and got in the car. So whole day I went about it like it was any other day. Didn’t know I had held my breath most of it until picking up those two end of day and getting to hear how it all was. And looking them over for any signs of something amiss. Sigh

Life has changed so much in past 5 years. Marriage, divorce, 2 moves, kids off to college, my beloved dad dying, bonus daughter  getting married, me  moving in with my 70 plus year old mom. (Whole other story in itself!) all my furniture, personal belongings in storage and sense of home challenged in such ways I can’t catch up to. Job changes and challenges. 

Look I am not complaining. I am fortunate in a million ways. 

But I am thumping away. Today would have been the 53rd birthday of my first and late husband, father to my twins. In two months it will be mine and nothing about my life is what I thought would be at 53. Except that I have exceptional kids. That I expected even though their lives haven’t taken a smooth road either. And they have Thumper for a mom, yay! I have given them loads to talk to a therapist about and which I pay for. Least I can do. 

Our world is scary. The news is scary. Social media? Oh my stars that’s enough to keep me thumping solid until I meet my maker. I want to gather my kids and get in a storm cellar and play Life, Monopoly amd have friends who are family in the bunker too and play Cards Against Humanity and laugh our butts off because we are all so greatly weird and funny. And now all the kids are 21 so a round for everyone! And ok ok for my son G we will play Risk and totally hate ourselves for it as he conquers the world. 

But I can’t. I can’t and don’t want to stop them from going forth and prospering. And I know it. It’s still scary and I am still anxious. And thumping to beat the band. 

I take comfort in words of people like #jenhatmaker #jennylawson and #jenlancaster which I hashtag on the off chance they will find this and know they bring comfort and humor and they are real people with real challenges. Also? I just realized they are all a form of Jennifer. What is that about? The magical mystical Superheroes Legion J!

647a. There are actual people getting up now and earlier who have slept. I know this from others telling me since if given a choice would have slept solid til 8a. 

Ok I should stop now. I write because I am compelled whether anyone reads or not. When I am typing I am not thumping so hey that’s a win. Maybe. We take what we can get. Small victories. 

Think I will thump on that some more.


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