The other night, I puttered around the house getting all aggravated about how busy I was, obsessing over all the work I had to do the next day that I really didn't want to do, and agonizing over how many things around the house needed fixing, from appliances and doorknobs to people and my hair. Also how being a woman can be hard when no one helps, because they don't think you need it, because you aren't out in the street gnashing your teeth and whining. And how frustrated and scared I am about the state of our country. I get nervous when we stop talking to each other, because I'm from a family of talkers and I just want everyone to participate. My family's still talking, and we're all over the map with our politics, so jump in any time. But have fun with it, k? But I digress.
You know that thing, when your husband or one of your children tells you to stop yelling at them, when all you're actually doing is enunciating, and only because they ignored you the first five or seven times you spoke? I know that thing.
I was mad as hell and desperately trying not to show it, because you know what I [really bad expletive here] hate? When kids get all emotional about their homework. Who cares? Do it. Don't. Suffer the consequences. This is not my problem. I did the homework. I finished school. I have a master's degree and I can do (more or less, okay not really at all, so school isn't worth it anyway) what I want.
I couldn't shake off my rage, and it was pushing against my insides like a mad case of heartburn. Isn't that the worst part of being an adult? Everything's great. I have three children I love and like, a quirky old house that makes me smile in spite of the janky doorknobs, a car that runs like a damn champ after 12 years, enough money to enjoy myself, and a furry little dog who loves to cuddle. I have amazing, beautiful, smart, funny friends and half a beach house. I like my shoes. What else is there? It feels wrong to be this mad, so I eat it. But I am punch-a-wall mad. Do all the drugs mad. Scream at people in public mad. Shave my head mad. And I'm mad as hell that I'm way too controlled to do any of those things. When is it my turn to lose my shit?
How do other parents do it? As I type, one child's crying in the shower about homework and I feel like garbage because I don't want to comfort him. I want to yell at him and tell him it gets so much worse. He doesn't even know from sobbing in the shower.
But why did I tell him it was time to take a shower? Because I know from experience that everything looks better after a shower. And it's my job to make everything okay for everybody.
How do other parents stay so upbeat? Don't tell me about your benzos; I can't take any chill pills without dropping and shattering the ball. (I was never good at sports.) I can't drink any more than I already do on account of I'm not interested in plumbing the depths of alcoholism. And comfort food only goes so far.
And don't tell me to exercise. I'm doing my best, but that's all I can do. There really is no more time in the day. (Really, so stop.) Should I go running at 10 at night? Or, like, ever? Hell, no. But I digress. Again.
While I was stealth-stomping around the kitchen trying not to lose it, I did the only thing that distracts me. I started pulling things out of the fridge to see what I could use to make a casserole for the next day. Cooking ahead helps take away my fear that everything will fall apart tomorrow. You eat your feelings. I cook mine. I've been know to make other people eat my feelings before, and they like it, so there. Isn't that nicer than yelling, punching a wall, and lighting my hair on fire?
The kid got out of the shower, refreshed. I resisted the urge to mention his previous outburst, because everyone's forgiven but me. I stirred and tasted and added and tasted while he finished his homework. I didn't scream, and the casserole went in the fridge for the next night's dinner. And the next day was better.
And that recipe's on the way, because it came out pretty well.