The days are long and getting longer– Hubs is gearing up for another busy time at work and he hasn’t been able to be around much. I had a ton to get done, Mount Washmore was piling up, and my house has developed an unpleasant smell.
I am treading water.
When the kids walked in the door after I had already spent a full day with their demanding little brother, the I-wants and the can-I-haves began before I had even taken off my shoes. It went on, and on, as is their custom, until I became so agitated that I growled
“NO ONE CAN ASK ME FOR ANYTHING ELSE, RIGHT NOW.”
I am treading water, and sometimes the taste of the ocean is more than I can bear. Sometimes I go under, but only for a bit.
But then it’s sports activities and friends over to play and through it all I am folding load after load after load of laundry and then it’s baths which breeds yes more laundry and through it all they are talking (so anyway about Harry Potter) talking (when is my teacher coming back) talking (where do dead frogs go/why can’t we have candy for dinner/ what does annoying mean) and asking (can we braid my hair so it’s wavy tomorrow) asking (can you read me these five books and find my Winnie the Pooh) asking (can I stay up and read) and NO PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME FOR ANYTHING ELSE.
I am barely treading water. I am flailing. Everyone else is grabbing at me with their needs, and their wants, and I cannot even breathe but
I finished folding. All that remained in the hampers were the day’s filth.
“Laundry is DONE!” I beamed. This one thing managed to be done. I conquered Mount Washmore. I did it. I said it aloud, again, but my children– who had only moments before been renting permanent space in my ass– had scattered to the winds. It was suddenly VERY quiet. True, no one was asking me for anything else… it wasn’t what I had in mind.
Only one little voice– that same small voice that drove me to the edge of my sanity all day– all week– long– offered to help put away his own laundry.
I am sometimes drowning. In flailing and fits.
So I slammed drawers and put away put away put away and added it to the ever-growing list of THINGS ONLY I DO and HOW NO ONE CARES and I AM NOT PARENTING THEM WELL IF THEY DON’T OFFER TO HELP and little Squeak put his undies and tees away and then wandered off to bigger, brighter plans with his dump trucks and plastic farm animals.
I am not drowning. Drowning people do not yell, and stomp, and make ugly angry faces.
I said no. NO I WILL NOT BRAID YOUR HAIR and NO YOU MAY NOT STAY UP LATE and NO I WILL NOT FIND WINNIE THE POOOOOOHHHHH!!!! Because I am TOO TIRED from doing EVERYONE ELSE’S THINGS!!! And I still have to work!
Everyone went to bed in tears.
I was in tears. I turned on my computer to begin working at my part-time job.
I took a deep breath, and realized that I could breathe– that I was breathing. I was not drowning. I was breathing.
And that meant it wasn’t too late.
I laid with Squeak for a minute, forehead to forehead, Winnie the Pooh between us. I thanked him for being such a sweet boy. I reminded him of his playdate tomorrow, that he is so excited to have. He glowed.
I snuck in and braided Funk’s hair in the dark. It wasn’t important to me, but her school pictures are tomorrow and she wanted wavy hair. It was easy to make her happy– it was important to her. She said “I’m sorry I took away your work time.” and I said, “baby, you didn’t TAKE it. I GAVE it to you. Because I love you. Also, I am never putting away your laundry again.”
I brought Noise his book and his glasses and gave him ten minutes to read. After ten minutes, he gave me a grateful kiss and curled up for sleep.
I am not drowning. The water is shallow– the ground is within reach of my feet. If I choose to stand.
I control what I give, I control how I give it. I did work my ass off all day long, but no one made me do any of it. I did it because I wanted to do it, but I forget that all the damn time. I forget that the way a gift (such as my time) is given is just as important as the gift itself. If I was just going to bitch about it, why bother? It only makes my kids feel like shit. And it doesn’t do much for my attitude, either.
And so the eleventh hour turnaround. The wiping of tears, the promises to do better. The apologies and hugs and the mess that is being a family.
I love my kids, I love my life, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the wave of need, demands, and tedium is sometimes more than I think I can bear. I see the wave before me, and I get so overwhelmed and exhausted and angry and I just think I can’t stand anything else. I am sad and lonely and desperate and venomous and I swear I just. can’t. do it.
But I can. And I do.
And we do.