Yesterday, I really and truly dropped my basket.
(Quick lesson: “dropping the basket” is a southern term for “losing it”. So I am saying, in a southern slang, that yesterday? I totally lost my shit.)
Disclaimer: my husband will feel attacked by this post, no doubt. Honey, calm down. I love you very much. But sometimes, I have to vent. You go right ahead and to the same when you need it.
One of my long-time readers emailed me awhile back because she had a question about transitioning into the world of being a stepparent. And the very valid conversation came up of, “What if you feel like he’s putting his child before you?” And the truth is, and I told her a version of this in different words, that he SHOULD. He should put his children first. Children NEED that, while we as adults should (in a perfect world) be content enough and independent enough to not need the attention/support/whatever. But there are times when .. although that logic is still there .. it is not easy.
A LARGE issue we’ve had recently is the fact that our household chores are just not divided evenly. They’re just not. I grocery shop, cook, clean, do laundry, am in charge of making sure the lawn is taken care of, making sure the pets are groomed/vetted, making sure bills get paid, making sure there’s a stock of any staple ever required in the house .. and while I would not say that I’m 100% on the hook for these things (Bryan does cook, on occasion, for example), I am 95% responsible for them. Because of this, or maybe because I just have issues, I take personal affront when comments are made about the cleanliness of our home. Par examplè, when Bryan sits down on the couch and says, “Eww, there’s crumbs in that seat cushion,” I think Damn, well, let me get to cleaning that. Again.
Saturday, I did not stop moving from sun up to way past sun down. Between cleaning out clothes in Tony’s room, switching out my own closets, doing all of the laundry for myself and Tony, washing and changing bed sheets, cooking breakfast AND lunch AND dinner.. I was just exhausted by the time it was time to go to bed on Saturday night. And I snapped at Bryan.. PERHAPS UNFAIRLY .. because his idea of “cleaning the kitchen” was putting a pot from dinner into soak. That was it. No wiping down, no putting away, no scrubbing. I should also mention that, on Saturday here in Alabama, we had a nonstop day of tornado warnings, so everyone had been stuck inside all day. Two three boys, four animals, and me .. all stuck in one house. We did every science experiment we owned, and even made up some, and the boys were STILL vibrating.
Whatever, I thought. Tomorrow’s another day.
Sunday brought nicer weather, YAY, so Bryan promised to take Jack to the YMCA to play raquetball. The minute Tony went down for a nap, they took off .. and I began cleaning THE REST of the house that didn’t get done the day prior. (Which, as I’m typing, has made me DOUBLE sure that our chores are not evenly distributed.) I had enough time to dust and scrub down the furniture in the living room (getting those pesky crumbs out .. again!) when I heard a weird noise on the baby monitor. A .. wind chime? .. that I distinctly remember putting up on that nine foot shelf ohmygod what is my child doing?!
I opened the door, and there was my child: on top of his dresser, soaked from head to toe, wearing a green shepherd’s hat, holding one drumstick, sucking on a pacifier, and wide-eyed at being caught. He had pulled apart and thrown over his entirely full humidifier; he had opened and poured out every bottle of medicine on top of his dresser; he had pulled down a frame of my childhood photos featuring me with my MaMa; HE WAS IN DEEP SHIT, is what he was.
And I lost it. I was overcome with anger, mainly because JUST ANOTHER FUCKING THING I HAVE TO CLEAN, and WHY IS IT ALWAYS MY FUCKING JOB, TONY?! and WHERE IS YOUR FATHER? OH RIGHT, HE’S WITH THE FAVORITE CHILD and other very honest, awful, childish things that I needed to yell about, and God love him, the only one there for me to yell at was my child.
Which .. yeah, ANOTHER breakdown promptly ensued, about what a bad mother I am.
He just laid in his bed, staring at me. Shaking his head and whispering, “No, Momma,”. And God, I hated mysel.. no, I STILL hate myself for it. No past tense. No child should ever have to see their parent unravel like that.
I squeezed down in the corner of his room, rocking in a fetal position over water-stained pictures of my grandmother, whose funeral is still fresh. I was just distraught.
My baby came over to me. “Park?” he said.
And oh, hell yes, we did.
He in his wet pajamas and I in a dress that was too tight and perhaps too revealing but it was a slip-on dress that was clean and required no fuss; the two of us looking a mess, we went over to the local playground and spent an hour doing nothing in particular. He had a blast. I had a moment away from the mess to figure out what had just happened.
I didn’t really have a point to this story. I don’t really have an end to it. I know that, for all of my guilt in the last 24 hours, before he was leaving for school, Tony yelled back over his shoulder, “I love you, Momma! I love you too!”
Which partly covers the wound. And partly grinds kosher salt in it.