Making good on anger, loneliness, and growing up
The other day was just one of those days. I hung stuff on the clothesline and it rained. I celebrated The Kid peeing in the potty and he put his foot in it. I spent the whole morning sweeping, mopping, folding, vacuuming, turning knobs, closing drawers, chopping food, wiping up buts and spills and counters and crumbs and by the end of the day I had nothing to show for it. I looked around and it was as if I'd done nothing but pop bonbons all day and watch soaps and feed the kid cheezits and soggy bread.
And then the husband called home to say I'm on my way home which turned out to be I'm grabbing a beer with my buddy which turned into You're unappreciated and trapped and will never be enough in my head, because I'm crazy like that. By the time he got home I'd regained some sense of sanity and he took the imp upstairs for a bath and I wiped down the counters, again, and put the dishes out of sight and took a deep breath. I ended up asleep on the couch, which is how most nights seem to finish up these days, my feet serenely in his hands which offered to put me out of my misery all on their own.
All this to say that it’s been a pretty good week all things considered. Physically, that literal pain in the neck could leave anytime and I wouldn't waste a second on goodbye, but my heart has been lighter. Maybe it's the St. John's Wort. Maybe it's the Melatonin. Maybe it's the finally Chiropractor who thank-god doesn't make me feel like a hypochondriac. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I’m a bit of a stress-pot and need to find better coping mechanisms than working up to a migraine and yelling at nearby strangers or hurling insults at whoever happens to be in my path. I'm exaggerating, of course. I always wait until strangers are in their cars before insulting them.
I did an impulsive and hopeful thing recently and made a list of intentions, sending them out into the interwebs with and guess what? Some of them even came true.
I have been the lucky recipient of a swift kick in the pants to upstart a new quilt and some super delicious cranberry-orange-lemon scones that I'm a little embarrassed to admit were both our mid-afternoon snack and Buster's lunch that day. I drank beer, played trivia, and ate bar food till I could have bust a button and almost did until well past the child's normal bedtime, and all without the company of relatives, husbands, or deadlines. An unexpected pizza and playtime out back with two little ones, another mama, and no expectations. Kiddie pools, and plastic lawn mowers, and ice pops, and real conversation came my way one recent Wednesday. And tomorrow is another full moon already.
I keep forgetting how much loneliness is such a waste, but it was so nice to have a reminder.
I've spent less time on the computer. I started reading a real book. And Buster is finally, finally down for a nap despite taking over half and hour to get the message: Note to child, you are not coming out of your room for at least an hour.
The Kid has had these crazy meltdowns this week. He’s started growling at little frustrations around the house now. The husband asked me Have you heard his new noise? And I have to admit that in the right context it’s still pretty cute. But there have also been actual fist-pounding, face-down belly to the ground kind of red-faced screams so intense I think he might actually bust a nut because he is so angry.
But it's OK.
In fact, I find myself placidly removed (although nearby) when this happens. I wait. I ponder. I sigh. I pity. And then find him in my arms, breathing deeply, as though the crashing waves have finally been pulled out again with the tides. His anger rises up like a brushfire, and burns down quick as a match.
I'm not patient with him all the time. Sometimes his anger goads mine in a way that makes me send prayers into the future for when he'll be a boy working on being in a man's body and might not have much space left to breathe quietly on my shoulder.
God that makes my heart ache.
The thing is, becoming a parent sort of forces you to confront the unplayed mix-tapes you've put away in the leftover shoebox. You know the ones--forgotten among half-empty paint cans and the desiccated remains of unlucky spiders in your basement. All those things you’re saving so you can “sort through them” at another date. But really you’re filing the old selves away in hopes they don't die off. You keep them around because letting go would mean too much. But you don't keep a cassette player around anymore or listen to Paula Abdul so really you're just collecting dust and carrying around vague melodies and unimportant lyrics.
You find yourself saying things that don’t sound like you. Instead, they sound like your parents. How you deal with this eventuality is the difference between Devil May Care and Brave Little Toaster (whatever that means). And when you come across the dusty remains of your former self tucked away in some unlit corner, it’s like finding out the Easter Bunny isn’t real (which was very traumatic for me, by the way).
Somehow the mysterious self you tried so hard to set free is really an uncomplicated book of bad poems and all you really needed was some markers and crayons and someone to tell you it’s going to be all right and rub your feet while you fall asleep during the second half. It’s so peaceful to find out that our desires are really so simple, so easy.
The Kid keeps doing this super cute thing where he opens his arms to the universe and waits for it to hug him back. He melts with disappointment when it fails to live up to his expectations, but will take a hug from anyone really as long as they’re game. I don’t know if he needs constant reassurance because of some failure on my part or if it’s just his nature to be loving and generous.
Of course, he is also incessantly dramatic and lives in the land of the eternally unsatisfied for at least an hour every-frocking-day after his nap (which is only alleviated by an increasingly selective assortment of post-nap snacks and episodes of Thomas the Train while being coddled by mommy). So there’s that.
This past weekend I got a chance to leave the house. For over 24 hours. Without the kid. Alone in the car for at least ten hours round trip I got reacquainted with the latest top hits on the country-pop-Christian radio, and although I got a *cough *ahem speeding ticket, it was totally worth it.
I drove to Tallahassee for my youngest sister’s graduation and took nearly 300 pictures, of which I promptly edited, completed a slideshow, and ordered a book for my parents. But the best part wasn’t even the freedom. It was the pictures. In those pictures I got to see a glimpse of what it must have looked like and felt like for them when I got married, and graduated from college, and had my son. It’s intense, and humbling, and startling and just so plainly visible how happy it made them to not only be there with their youngest on that day, but to have their oldest acting the fool and shooting a zillion photographs in that afternoon sunlight.
Growing up, I wasn't always sure if my parents really liked me very much. I think I recall asking them once if they even loved me. I was so naive.
It's been a long time since I suffered with those kinds of doubts, and this weekend, in these pictures, there's no doubt. One of the perks about being "grown up" I guess is getting a chance to see the present without the past clouding up the view. I'm glad I've got my glasses on.
It’s been a good couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to a long summer.
This post originally appeared on my blog on May 4, 2012, and is protected under a Creative Commons License. If you'd like to contact me, or have questions about sharing this article, please review my Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact me via email bruteandbird[at]gmail[dot]com.