I am smart enough, or evolved enough to ask some questions. Serious questions like, when I am in tears over everything and every one is upsetting me..... “What time of the month is it?” or like now, when I am sick, “Is everything as bad as it seems, darker than usual, because I am sick and under the weather?”
I consider it progress that I ask the questions, even if I don’t answer them correctly. I was really looking forward to this quiet week after the crazy week I had last week. Honestly, I like both kinds of weeks - busy and full of action, and quiet non scheduled weeks. I know there is no perfect time, and it is probably better that it happened this week, but being sick has really thrown me off my game.
I actually love it when I am able to give in to sickness. Just say, we can’t do it. Whether its me or my kids, giving in, laying in front of the TV or in bed, canceling obligations, and just getting thorough it. Although I fight this, I often embrace it when I must.
But my world is weighing heavy on me now. Substance abuse problems tearing families apart. Families that are close to us, our children. Allegations of sexual abuse from families in our school. Nasty divorces, like you wouldn’t believe. Parents driving their kids under the influence. Adults acting like teenage girls. A suicide in my hometown. The heavy, heavy weight of teaching my kids to navigate this world and wondering if I can do it.
Oh yea, and this cold. Which somehow seems harder than anything. Yesterday, nothing was going right, you know those days? Nothing big, but everything little. I woke up to a very troubling email, on an issue that is constant but sometimes demands more. I couldn’t write a thing... except a lengthy thank you letter for my event last week. Being sick, I am even less able to multi task than usual, and spent the better part of the early afternoon dealing with learning issues at school. Steve called from out of town and he was distressed that his meeting didn’t go well. Last night, I needed help disciplining my son, who is so, so sweet and kind but has to be held responsible for his actions, or inactions. I find it almost easier to fight my headstrong daughters than to help my son be responsible. I didn’t know what to do, so I told him I was taking all of his new fatheads off his wall. Well, that was a disaster and I ended up being the only one crying as he pulled them off his wall, saying “I’m really sorry, Mom. Please be careful, Mom.” I wasn’t angry or out of control, I was just trying to find something that might mean something to him. Also, trying to tune it, I broke my youngest daughter’s beloved violin, which she plays all the time.
I was in tears when my husband arrived home from out of town exhausted, and he surprised me.
“Do you want to go out? Take a drive somewhere? I’ll handle this.”
“No. I can’t. I feel so bad.”
“OK. I’ll draw you a bath.” What? Who is this? I vaguely remember this man I dated, then married years ago.
“There is already a kid in my bathtub. Can’t go there.”
“OK. Honey. Just get in bed and read. I’ll finish with the kids.” I can’t get in bed to read because my son’s brand new 6 foot fathead is laying on my bed. I just spent the last 30 minutes unsticking it because it rolled together when I took it off his wall and now I don’t know what to do with it.
I get up to check on my older daughter who is in the bathtub. I walk in my bedroom and see that the huge football player fathead is not on my bed anymore, and I quickly see that my youngest daughter has tried to clean my bed off for me, but has gotten caught up in the fat head, which is stuck to itself and her, and she is trying to deal with it without letting me know.
I burst into tears with a wailing sound and plonk on my bed and hold my pounding head. My older daughter is calling from the bathtub, “What’s wrong, Mom?” And my younger daughter is silently trying to fight the sticky fathead herself. If I were in a different state, I would have taken a picture. My husband comes in and says, again, that he will fix it. He tells me to go downstairs and I do.
I play our old pinball machine with tears streaming down my face. The tears are from being sick, frustrated, challenged with the day. They are also from all the heavy things going on in families close to us. They are fear from what has happened to the life we imagined having, fear of losing the closeness with my husband. They are also, thankfully, tears of happiness and a little hope.
One by one, they come down. Chaucer says he is sorry and brings a picture he has made and offers to play with me. I tell him that I don’t know what to do with him. I am so proud of him. He is such a good, kind, nice boy that I am so proud of. I know you don’t mean to do the things you do. I know it is the attention deficit disorder, but you are still responsible for your actions. Mostly, I hug him and tell him how much I love him and he has tears in his eyes.
Sally comes down with a note apologizing for breaking the ornament and wrecking the fathead. I kiss her head and say thank you, but I know they were accidents and she was just trying to be helpful and supportive.
My husband comes down and tells me he beat the fathead and it is back on the wall perfectly. He says he will take the violin to get fixed. He is calm, and good with the kids. He says he has already stepped in and handled some of the issues at school. I am still crying, not sure why, but probably for all the reasons listed above. And because it feels like it has been so long since I was supported, and it feels so good to have them caring and helping in a loving manner. I haven’t felt this in so long.
I took a bath with candles and headed to bed, only to find a sweet letter written by my daughter. It was folded like a letter addressed to Mama Sweetgirl Countryman. I started crying again. Maybe some of the things I do sink in. Maybe they do matter. I wrote her letters most every day at camp with these salutations. Chloe Mama’s Baby Countryman, or Chloe Dancer Extraordinaire Countryman, or Chloe Wild Girl Countryman. She never said anything about it and I never asked. And now, six months later, she addresses it to me like that. She noticed.
She wrote how much she loved me. She also said she asked Chaucer if he was upset about the fatheads and he responded, “Yea. I guess. But I’m more upset to disappoint Mom and see her upset.” This fills me because she was taking care of her brother when I wasn’t able to, and it scares me because his heart is so fragile.
Finally she said, I’m glad you are writing now. I love having a mother that writes. It makes me proud. If you write a kids book, I will be the first to read it. Dont. Know. How. To. Write. How. This. Makes. Me. Feel.
I have been working so hard, fighting really to find my place. I haven’t found it, and times are not always or often easy now. I miss my children terribly now that they are all gone all day. Too much around them is work, rather than relationship building. I struggle to find a new path for myself, and trying to redefine myself puts unexpected pressures on my marriage.
Now, I find myself thankful for that horrible day yesterday. I would not trade it. I was so depleted that I had to depend on my family. I had to let them be there for me. My husband was soft and kind and calm. My kids were amazing. Oh, what it is to feel. To feel pain and frustration, and sadness. And to feel love and support and kindness. And to know that not everything is wrong in the world.
Especially our little world.