April 15, 2013 by Julia
Tonight I was lying on the kitchen floor, curled downward into a turtle-like ball, when Dennis got home. The kids heard his key in the lock and ran to the door to greet him with the usual ear-piercing screams. After about thirty seconds, he asked them, “Where’s Mommy?”
From my spot on the floor I yelled, “Mommy’s here. Mommy is broken.”
Dennis walked over and laughed at me. Jack got down at my eye level and tried to pull my head up. My boy always gets concerned whenever I collapse. Dennis said, “Oh no!! Who broke Mommy?!”
I actually didn’t want to sit up, much. Quesadillas were sizzling on the skillet, my daughter and I had just yelled rude things at one another (resulting in her tears and my heartache), and Jack was probably going to start screaming again (it could just as well be from excitement as out of anger; screams are equally effective at showing both emotions. Little known fact: toddler screams can express anything!). I had gone grocery shopping, picked up Fiona from school, done three loads of laundry, played Harry Potter Legos with Fiona while listening to Jack talk/scream upstairs in his crib for half an hour before finally dropping off to sleep, wrote half a page, gave them both baths, and switched out their clothes for the summer, while making piles for a supposed yard sale I may or may not decide to do.
The broken mommy bit was a little funny, but I was crying, too. I sat up and wiped tears out of my eyes. It’s crazy how a day can spin around on you, and all of a sudden you’re crying on the kitchen floor. I thought I was coping with my Monday quite well. I had gotten crap done, AND managed to stop for an hour and play with Fiona.
But the details had worn me down, apparently. The tiptoeing around tantrums (let me just sneak this diaper onto Jack while he’s not looking!), the way my 5-going-on-15-year-old daughter Fiona already questions everything I do as if I’m intentionally trying to screw up (WHY did you put my soup far away from me on the table, Mommy??), the constant, constant, constant cleaning. Constant. Constant. Never-ending. And yet, do I have a clean house? Only on certain days, if you squint enough to make everything blurry.
So those are the details that brought this mommy low. I’ve actually been struggling for a couple of weeks, now. I tend to throw around the term depression loosely, as in, “I’m depressed this morning, ha ha!” …but I might be a little depressed. I mean, we have good days, and we’re doing okay, and I’m totally functional (as a sensitive teenager I loathed it when people were referred to as functional), but I kind of feel like turning into a hermit. Temporarily. I’m sure it will pass.
Anyway, Fiona was worried about our status, I could tell. She wanted to make sure we were okay, her and me. And that made me ache, too. We had our family dinner, and Dennis got the kids laughing, and Fiona was saying to me how happy they were, and how it was a great dinner, and it ripped me open, the way she was trying to reassure me. I was grateful and guilty at the same time, and trying to keep tears from welling up while telling her that everything was okay.
There are truths that transcend these phases, the ups and the downs. The love for my family that breaks my heart open – painfully, joyfully, beautifully – is one of them.
P.S. I am coming back now to add a quick note, because I feel somewhat foolish after posting this, and then going to turn on the TV to find that everyone is talking about a major bombing that happened in Boston this afternoon. (Truly, some days I am disconnected from the world outside our home.) I would hate to sound insensitive, describing my day’s normal trials on a day that has been a living nightmare for some. My heart goes out to those families.