Sunday, November 22, 2009

reality check

Not to sound paranoid or anything, but sometimes it feels like the universe is punishing me. Just when things are going particularly well, or even just ok, I get slammed by something unexpected to put me back in my place, to keep me from thinking I have any right to feel too confident, happy, good. I've just lived through two days of this and I don't know how I'll survive another.

I was expecting post book party backlash from my family. I know, for kids, well my kids anyway, it's not easy having me be someone other than their mom. These projects, especially FLOW, took so much time and energy away from them and for long stretches at a time I'd be distracted, edgy, overwhelmed. It makes sense that they'd rather have me focus on them 100% in a happy homemaker sort of way. Not that I've ever done that, but when I was little I used to feel that about my mom—if only she could shake herself out of her depression (I didn't know that's what she was actually going through at the time), if she could not get in bed at 6, if we could spend more time together, if she was interested in me more, my life would have been perfect instead of insecure and anxiety-ridden. Somehow my mother had the ability to make everything ok. Of course she didn't, but I didn't know that either.

Expecting the other shoe to fall, I thought it would happen after the big party. Before the night began, I dreaded going home, expecting someone, something, to make me pay dearly for a night that was only about me. There were moments, at Rizzoli's, Jack showing up at my side, bored and frustrated, but it was minor. And I was so high that I managed to gloss over his temper tantrum when we got home. Iz had friends show up, Jack didn't spend his night with her the way we'd planned, he'd felt left out and lonely. I get it. We all stayed up way too late watching Project Runway, but everyone went to sleep in a sane place.

Friday morning was brutal. After school? Violent fighting kept me from going to yoga. I sat, listening to the screaming that dissolved into hitting and ensuing out of control hysteria, too tired to cry.

And then there was yesterday. At some point, a couple of weeks ago I think, we'd found out about a Star Wars concert that was happening on the Island and thought that would be a cool thing to do. Our weekends are usually free form and plan-free. Everyone's too tired from the week to tackle anything huge and while they're usually a disaster, no one has the energy or where-with-all (that would be me) to scrape everyone off the floor and make fabulous plans happen. And after this week? I couldn't comprehend getting everyone up/dressed/on board/in the car to drive for over an hour to scalp tickets at Nassau Coliseum. Forgive me for not, as always, putting everyone else first, but I had other things on my mind lately. Friday afternoon, I scheduled a playdate for Jack—he's been feeling lonely lately and it seemed having a friend over right before Thanksgiving would be a good thing for him right now.


It was as if I'd purposely set our weekend on fire, making sure to scorch and burn everyone so badly, we'd suffer as if with 3rd degree burns. I'm not kidding. All this, from thinking I was doing something positive and constructive for someone.

People were livid, as if this one time I ever took initiative, truly the one time I've EVER set something up for Jack on a weekend, was done purposely to destroy our weekend of potential bliss and togetherness. As if we ever have those anyway. As if I launched a missile into our well constructed plans and destroyed everything beyond repair. Things got a little out of hand, as sometimes long playdates do, and I was blamed, reamed, for letting that happen. For not being an effective host. For not being on top of everything. For letting the ball drop. For being tired and hoping someone else would take charge.

No one else ever takes charge. And I'm blamed for that too. I'm blamed for my kids being picky eaters (everyone in my family was when I was growing up), for not being organized enough, for letting weekends slip away without some grand plan, for not having the right food in the fridge, for other people's bad behavior and temper tantrums, for not sharing control when I desperately, deeply, don't want that control, for not playing games even when I'd offered to and no one heard me, for not buying the right ice cream, for not making an effort, for not finding a movie that EVERYONE wants to see, for not magically making everything just so, all the time. As we went to bed, the last installment was that our kids are so self-centered, they won't want kids of their own because it'll be too much of a nightmare for them to deal with children who act like they do. I was being held responsible for something that may or may not happen in 20 or so years.

I was yelled at, cursed at, sobbed to. I was emotionally beaten to a pulp, too depleted to stand up for myself.

I was numb. I'm still numb.

This, a day and a half after my glorious party. The day after The New Yorker wrote about it. The day of the best review I've ever gotten. A moment or two to celebrate, bask, let it sink in would have been delightful. A hug, a high five, some enthusiastic, or even tepid support would have been, well, expected. But no. Everyone's just pissed. And today won't be any different. There's homework that has to get done. Battles about leaving the house that will be waged. Frustration about going to class instead of movies with friends. Frustration that one was invited to the movies and the other wasn't. I'm sure there will be a 3 hour football twist in there. I can't live in the moment right now when I know the moments, minutes, hours coming up will break me down even more.

I feel small and lost and beaten down.

Someone last night said I need to withdraw into a cave. Emotionally, I'm already there.

Day 47 is anticipating more of the same.


jeremy said...

When I saw you yesterday, you mentioned the upcoming playdate and the issues surrounding it. I'm sorry to hear what a mess it all turned into.

Kids. They can be the greatest joy in the world as well as the source of the most debilitating heartache.

You have my empathy.

Bruce said...

"Get control of you own time; master the twenty-four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick--don't let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our 'practice' which will put us on a 'path'--it is out path."

~Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild