But it was an accident. I’d hate to think there was such thing as your worst prejudice being confirmed, but every time those mini-males manage to injure me, accidentally or not my first thought is always, “Ah yes, of course. Here it is again, the pain my children cause me in physical form.”
It started off as the best day ever. A gorgeous day, sunny but cold, and an ocean so sparkling and vast, that it rendered all of the problems in the world immediately moot. This was an ocean it was impossible to be depressed and look at at the same time. An ocean that beautiful should be able to solve all the world’s problems simply by its existence, but sadly the day was just beginning…
I’d anticipated a difficult time as the kids’ father took off yesterday for a business trip to New York, leaving me with our (charming) progeny for last night, tonight, and tomorrow night (New Years’ Eve, in case you are in another time-zone) flying back on Tuesday at 10.35 a.m., not that anyone’s counting (hint: I am.) I was shitting myself in fear; I wish I had a more literate term for it, but that’s the best way I can describe the feeling of being left alone with my own children. I love and fear them in equal measure, they are like the ocean: beautiful, brilliant and intense, but also bracingly cold and capable of drowning you, even before you counted the sharks.
Yet I woke up calm and grounded as they played their new video games peacefully upstairs. Even though the house shook every time one of them shot something on the screen, at least there was no murderous real-life screaming raising me out of my dreams. Likewise the dogs stared at me silently, respectfully from the edge of the bed as if they were polite little English chaps, “Er, excuse me Ms. Owner, didn’t mean to bother you, but we need to take care of some business, so as to protect the furnishings in your beautiful home, you understand.”
Immediately I was struck by the obvious first right action of the day, really the only triangular perfect parental solution: I would make the kids walk the dogs, threatening them with an end to their videogames if they didn’t. A perfectly diabolical plan, and clearly divinely inspired…
We puttered along peacefully for a few hours, the kids, the dogs and I, in a kind of blissful vacation mode. Occasionally I would get them to pick something up or put it in the laundry or eat or brush their teeth, all the while using the same threat; taking away their new favorite games, which only worked because it was not idle and they knew it.
My beautiful friends came through with a play-date offer today (I literally BEGGED them for it) and knowing this break was coming was making me calm and centered. I can do finite kid time; if I know I’m getting a break, four hours is easy. It’s those stretches with no adult company as I spin around like a pinball in the machine of my children’s hyperactivity that make me insane.
I leisurely walked my bigger dog along the beach and watched her run around in joy. This was exceptional only because I have hated the dogs lately, the responsibility associated with them had made me close my heart to the simple pleasure of their loyalty and sweetness, only to see need and responsibility and having to walk outside in the cold when I don’t want to. I did yoga in the sand and almost wept in gratitude for my life. I felt re-connected to my children, to the dogs that I had once loved and to G-d for creating it all.
The sounds of screaming greeted me from outside our house as I returned; things had gone horribly, horrifyingly wrong… or rather, more like I’d imagined them to be. The kids were obviously fighting and yelling at each other. I sighed, still in the center of my newfound peace, and walked in with the dog. David cried behind the bathroom door, as Samson stood outside taunting him, holding the door closed with his foot (David is the older one, and yet Samson, like his name, is the stronger.) I took Samson by the back of the neck (gently) and moved him away from the door. David, not knowing this had happened (my proof that I grabbed Samson gently as he didn’t even cry out) slammed the door open onto my forearm.
The pain felt like it seared a trail all the way up my arm and into my brain. I didn’t want to swear or cry and scare them, but David was already off in his own hysteria.
“I’m so stupid…” he screamed, running away crying.
“Please don’t cry you’re making it worse,” I managed to moan, before staggering to the freezer to get a bag of frozen berries to use as an icepack, that I’d just a few hours before portioned off for smoothies like Martha fucking Stewart.
And had the thought. “I hate this. I hate being a parent. If I hadn’t been so over-medicated I never would have decided to have children. All pain… always pain.”
The thought faded fast behind the tears that followed it, that were for both kinds of ache I was feeling then. As worse than the bruise that makes even typing this somewhat difficult, is the agony of separation from love, a pain I thought I would escape today.