About Me

San Francisco, California
I am Ethan and Chase's Mama and my man's Sugar. I have flown a plane, driven a race car, and been pushed out of a train. I have swum with dolphins, climbed the Untersberg, and thrown tortillas in more than one location. I have great arms and a law degree. I hate housework. I can't iron. I love my dustbuster because I occasionally allow my kids to eat off of the floors. I wish I were taller and for my boys to grow up in a peaceful world.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lost it

I bugged out today. I unloaded the baby onto my husband, dodged my sick toddler's requests for more, more, more attention because his little lungs have been working too hard and his nose is raw from blowing and his throat is sore from coughing, and I ran out the door. I had thrown a jog bra and t-shirt in the car. My pants had been coated with my toddler's snot. Earlier I had managed to take them off and to put on a cleanish pair of shorts. I got in the car. At the first intersection I yelled at the driver across from me for letting me go first. It was his right-of-way. The a--hole was going to cause an accident being considerate like that.

I drove to the open space to, to, I didn't know. I just needed out. I wanted exercise, but I was sick so I didn't want to tax my body further. My resources from skin to spirit were completely sapped. How could I go hiking too? But spending money would have made me feel guilty and would not have filled the sink hole inside me that was taking me under. I parked in the lot and texted my location to my husband. He wrote back, "Chase is asleep. Take your time." Then instead of jumping out into the fresh air, I stared back into my tiny blackberry and started texting back: "I hate myself for running out like that..." but because I have the social rather than the professional blackberry, the keys share letters and it came out "I gate myself...."

I laughed. Got out of the car. Then I had to face my feelings that had grown dangerous like unfettered jungle vines, curling around my neck and tying my limbs to me so I would fall, unable to catch myself, and finally succumb to strangulation.

It had started simply, I had gotten overly tired. Husband traveling again. Sick kid. Baby still not sleeping through the night. Nursing. Co-op nursery school obligations. Wanting to get back to work and taking on a small project, but getting the sense that the household could not tolerate any new responsibilities, therefore feeling that what I want is totally unreasonable and selfish. Sick husband. Sick self, but not resting because, who am I kidding? If I don't do whatever "it" is, then it won't get done. Not taking breaks in the evening. Not asking for help overnight. No down time on the weekends.

The signs in my life went from mild yellow yeild symbols to the traffic cop blowing a shrill whistle and holding up a gloved hand in front of my face yelling, "STOP!!" But I didn't. Instead I put the sick toddler in time out for not eating his oatmeal (duh, his throat hurt). I stopped talking to the baby. I just held him on my hip as I numbly walked through the house, picking up everybody else's crap. I'd try to be nice when my husband got home, but within the hour I was taking cheap shots at him. "You forgot to turn on the dishwasher again." "Is there a reason why there's no toilet paper in the bathroom?" "Remember the time when you told me a half-truth? Well I still remember it. And I'm still mad." (And I'm bringing it up again to try to make you feel half as miserable as I do right now.)

I blew past that mental traffic cop. Ethan had been coughing and clinging. I was scared to death that he was too sick again. Last year, I had missed the worsening symptoms of his croup only to have the pediatrician call an ambulance to drive him to the ER so he could breathe. So, on top of all my other failings, I thought, I'm a really incompetent parent. Who misses the breathing problem? I did.

This time I HAD to take him into the doctor. Today. This morning. Despite the fact that there was no wheezing in his chest, he had a productive cough, no fever, and was rough-housing with his dad. His dad, who has lived with asthma, told me that the kid was okay and that he would help. He would take Ethan to the doctor on Monday. This could wait. It could. Calm down. It's okay.

But I would not calm down. "He doesn't get it!" I ranted in my head. "Ethan will get worse. And then my week will only get harder even if his dad does take the hour to get him to the doctor on Monday. It will be me giving him the breathing treatments on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Me holding him in the middle of the night after the baby has just gotten back to sleep. Me scrambling to find a sub at the nursery school because we have to be absent again. It will be harder on me." So I grabbed the toddler and toted him to the car. I shoved him in his carseat. "Wet diaper!" he whined. I ignored him. "Wet Diaper!" he said louder this time, as he squirmed.

"We'll change it in the office, I growled.

"NOOOOO!" he protested, kicking and arching his back.

That was when I felt that last straw snap. Can't. Deal. With. One. More. Wet. Diaper.

I sucked in sharply. The yell was in the back of my throat. I am sure that my lips were snarled, eyes angry. I was inches from his little face, which expressed to me in that split second that I was going to do harm if I let that yell out. Only then, I finally realized the danger I had put myself and my children in. I was too tired to make good decisions. I was too tired to take care of my kids. I had been ignoring my needs for too long and was completely exhausted. I almost yelled at my two-year old because he had a reasonable need that I did not want to hear about.

On autopilot, I unbuckled my son. Wordlessly I carried him into the house and plopped him onto my bed, leaving my husband's questions unanswered. I changed the boy. I let him go. I picked up the baby who was fussing in the next room. I gave him to my husband and then I fled.

"I gate myself." I thought again as I started on the hiking trail. Hate was too strong. I had put myself through enough already, so I decided not to say that word. "I gate myself for letting it get to this point. I saw the signs. I chose to ignore them. My husband wanted to help. I shut down. Shut him out. I almost screamed at Ethan for being wet!"

I cried, and I walked, and then I noticed the autum colors smattered on the leaves fallen or still dangling from the trees. The air felt good. The strangle that I had felt around my neck was looser, but I could still feel the viney fingers. "Something has to change," I said aloud. I ticked off solutions. 1. Have husband do night feedings; 2. Cut back on sugar intake; 3. Exercise every day; 4. Schedule time to get away and then have the discipline to take it; 5. Go to sleep. I felt better.

Then I went home. I heard how sick my husband was. I felt how tired I still was. I wiped Ethan's nose. I held Chase. This was going to be hard, still, for a while. I am grateful that I took a break today, but I need more.

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazing post! You are so brave to put it in words and recognize it. I've been there, exactly where you are right now but lacked the courage to admit I needed help. The stage you're in is the toughest. Take it from me, it does get easier but that is useless information for you right now.

    All I can tell you is, get help. Hire a nanny, pull Ethan out of that school and put him in another where nothing is required of you, don't take on that job you're trying to do ... whatever it is that you need to do to feel better, do it.

    Allow yourself to be tired and accept that is how it will be for right now. If you need a nap at 10 am, then take it.

    I feel for you. It does get easier, I promise you that.