This school year has been trying. Yes, I know they’re all like that. I get it. But this one just seemed…soul killing. Between the dying cat who then became the dead cat, the endless snow days and historically frigid winter, the flooded basement that included a probably broken and certainly mangled foot, the pneumonia, the decision to get a puppy and two kittens… Okay, so that last one is completely my fault.
(I had to stop and eat three fun size Kit Kats after typing that.)
Now that we’ve reached the end of May, all I can think about is how desperate I am for summer to arrive. I don’t want to have to coordinate homework completion and form signing and activity chauffering and all the nagging that it requires to get the kids to practice all the things rather than sit around staring at ridiculously pixelated miners. In fact, I just don’t want to go anywhere or do anything at all. In the last week, I’ve seriously considered running away no less than forty-eight times, and if I’m being completely honest, I’ve only not disappeared because my calendar tells me that I can’t.
Yes, you read that right. I’m too busy to quit life.
So yesterday after discovering that not one, but both of my children had walked past the cats’ empty food and water dishes en route to the computer, something in my tired mom brain snapped. I put them in charge of all living creatures while I hid in the shower, trying to wash off my day before heading to the church for band practice. I stepped out of my steamy bliss ten minutes later to the sound of two children screaming. The boy was begging for help getting the puppy to stop eating the one nice thing I own, and the girl was screaming that she wouldn’t help because he never takes care of said puppy. After imploring the girl to go help her brother in order to save passersby from seeing naked me running into the living room, the sound of foot stomping and evil screeching filled the house. Hell hath no fury like a tween made to be helpful.
I think that is when I gave up. I angrily sent the canine and the kids to the basement to play behind a closed door while the kitties stared at me with huge eyes. I slapped together a frantic meal of grilled cheese and carrot sticks on paper plates. And when I heard more bickering and ugliness coming up from the basement, I placed one kid on each end of the couch and seethed this confession through clenched teeth:
I’m so upset right now at how horrible both of you are that if I weren’t legally obligated to stay in this house right now, I would be out that door. Now don’t speak and don’t look at each other. No moving until dinner is ready.
A couple minutes later my husband arrived home. We all sat silently at the kitchen table eating hastily made sandwiches, and the moment I had inhaled my last, still so hot it burned my throat bite, I left. For three hours I sang and played. And the whole time in the back of my mind I wondered…did I just break my children?
Here is where I need to get a little honest.
When I was growing up, I had to hear some pretty mean, nasty shit. I don’t know how else to say it. I fight every day to keep rage out of my home and away from my children, but it’s always just outside my door, peering in at me, waiting.
Wouldn’t it feel so good to just let it all out…
Even in those moments when my voice is reaching volumes that I know will hurt my vocal chords the second the last word is uttered, my kids know they are loved and lovable, whole and good and wonderful. They aren’t horrible. They aren’t worthless. They aren’t the cause of my stress and anxiety.
What a gift to not have to grow up thinking that your very presence is more than the people who are supposed to love you most can even tolerate…
But yesterday I said the words how horrible you are. You ARE. I didn’t say it’s horrible to yell at your baby brother or it’s horrible to lie to your mom. I didn’t tell them how horrible it is to ignore the animals that you begged to adopt. I unleashed it all and watched them stare at me, taking it in. It was over in a moment. It will be with them forever.
I came home to a bowl of popcorn and a glass of Malbec, two page long notes on the table waiting for me. The ten year old gets that she begged for new pets and now really isn’t spending enough time with them or helping like she promised. The eight year old is sorry, but p.s. when can he watch TV again, p.p.s. can I get his sister to stop bossing him, and p.p.p.s. can I also make her play soccer with him.
These children are my heart and sometimes it feels like it’s breaking. Thank God for grace, for impending summer, and for the healing power of time and gentle words.