“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
–Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
After yesterday’s post, I realized that maybe I was so exhausted because I was trying to keep from losing it. I’ve been going along as if nothing happened. Make progress on this demanding, time-sensitive work project! Write my book! Finish that Halloween quilt! Be a single parent 26 days out of every month! Get that new volunteer child welfare case! Keep the house clean!
Oh, and deal with the radical severing of your primary relationship. So that’s why I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and ill. All of this is manageable, even deeply enjoyable, when I’m not feeling like ass in a tin can. I just overlooked that minor detail.
I see a few options here. I am either the most over-confident boob on the planet or I am a hopelessly blinkered doofwad. I’m not going to labor over either of these choices for obvious reasons. But it did finally occur to me last night that it might be time to lavishly lose my shit. What does that look like in my world? Well, it looks like not cleaning the kitchen for a couple of days, letting the dog use the unattached piece of screen in the sunroom as a kind of doggie door, letting the kid eat pumpkin pie for breakfast one day (it’s a vegetable, people), and generally not doing anything I don’t want to do. Not exactly a 24/7 bacchanalia, but it will have to do. And I set out to do it for as long as I felt like doing it.
I lived approximately 27 seconds of this decadent lifestyle before my son announced that he was ill this morning. My son, at eleven, has not yet developed certain habits of maturity, including that sense of self-governance in the face of adversity that we all hope to attain. This means that he spent the entire day emitting a kind of high-pitched, feverish moan; it was like having an iTunes playlist of pain piped directly into my brain, and set on repeat.
“Do you think you could lower the volume on the moaning a little, honey?” I asked in a sympathetic tone.
“It’s not as easy as you think,” he replied, shaking his head. “I feel terrible. I hate my life. My brain is banging up against my skull. Why do I get so sick?” he asked with a melodramatic yet mournful touch of his forehead.
“Because you are a human being,” I said, less sympathetically . “Welcome to the NFL.” No, wait, that’s what my father used to say to me. Whatever; I’m not really big on martyrdom, as this entire post probably demonstrates. I will validate feelings until the bitter end, but I’m uninterested in cultivating self-pity.
He sandwiched a question in between moans: “How do we get sick, anyway? How do the viruses do it?”
“This sounds like an excellent thing for you to google while you’re lying down, sweetie,” I replied. He turned on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off instead, right to the scene where Jennifer Gray’s character is screaming to the home-intruding principal that she has a raging case of herpes.
“Mom,” he said, “what’s hermes?”
I went downstairs and cleaned the kitchen. It was like a mini vacation.
I can always lose it tomorrow.