Last evening was comically frustrating in retrospect. A late trip with the girls to the gas station, where we had to get out and pay inside because my card wouldn't work on the outside pumps. On to the pet store, where we bought crickets, mice, and dog food for assorted animals in the house. We waited an eternity for those darned crickets. Went home. A shame-faced dog, a huge container of baked beans splattered across the kitchen floor. Mad announced at bedtime that a boy she's been having trouble with at school called her a "bad name."
This all boiled over into some amped up kids when they should have been winding down. They weren't listening, they were kicking their feet in the air. Giggling, inventing last minute games. After gentle admonitions, sterner ones, bordering-on-angry ones, I finally let my frustration out. "YOU GUYS ARE STRESSING ME OUT," I told them. Something like that, on and on.
There was a pause, and then Mad said, quietly, "Sometimes you really make me sad, Mama." And of course I felt that like a stab in my heart, and I felt defensive, and I said, "Well, that's just great, Mad." And for a second I felt like sobbing. "Mama, sometimes you make me feel...you make me feel....GLAD," Violet said quickly, to be on my good side. That girl, always so eager to please.
Mad said, "Mama, you aren't understanding my words. You aren't making me upset, you...you..." I waited while she looked for the words she wanted. "I don't like it when you are feeling upset like that," she says. "You make me WORRIED about you." She grabbed my hand and pulled it against her chest. "I just love you so bad," she said.
Fail. Such a massive parenting fail. You're never supposed to make your kids feel that way. UGH. I stroked Mad's hair, kissed her forehead. "That's so sweet," I told her. "But you never have to worry about me. I'm always going to be okay." She nodded and smiled, and I just reflected for a minute on her empathy, her sensitivity, and how well she found the words to describe her feelings.
I'm stupidly overwhelmed right now. I don't feel up to the daunting task of making sure my kids are steady on their feet. It's the hardest thing in the world sometimes. And I feel like if they aren't steady on their feet it's because I'm not steady on my feet. I'm too much in my head lately. I got in the car this morning, sat down in the cold and silence and felt a sharp feeling of dread when my brain started up, trying to puzzle things out. I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts this morning. I just didn't. "Shhh, be quiet," I tried to tell my overwrought self.
The funny thing is that I know things will be fine, with or without much doing on my part. Yet the world keeps spinning in its stupid patterns around me, and I've got my arms out, trying to change its course. Until my arms are tired from trying to do the impossible. Trying to change the force of gravity.