A Dark Day

I live in a constant state of privilege.  I'm (typically) aware of it.  I don't want for food or shelter.  I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to yarn.  I'm a middle class white person.  My kids get a free education from stellar teachers who give many, many shits about them.  No one in the family is dying of any horrible diseases (note to the universe:  that was not a gauntlet being thrown).  I can take a vacation every year. 

And yet. 

So we'll start with explaining that my husband left for a business trip today.  He'll be back by the weekend, it's not as long as some of his previous trips, so yay for that.  But it started out with our 7-year-old waking up this morning complaining of a sour stomach, which I didn't believe and forced him to get dressed because he was going to school right up until he made us believe it by very nearly puking on my husband's feet.  So my husband shoved a trash can in his direction, gave the kids hugs, gave me a wary side-eye and a wide berth, and bolted out the door.

I get it.  He didn't have a choice.  Doesn't mean I'm holding any less of a grudge.

I managed to get the 4-year-old out the door to preschool and take stock of the situation.  Which was this:  I haven't gone grocery shopping in a shockingly long time and had pretty much nothing I needed to give my sick kid that wouldn't make him puke worse.  Even the saltine crackers were stale.  And we're out of AA batteries.  Do you know the importance of AA batteries in a house with children under 10?  DO YOU?!  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, I'd just send my husband to get some, but, OH YEAH HE LEFT.  I tacked on "going to have to go grocery shopping at some point this week with my disgustingly sick children in tow because I have no choice and that is going to be so much fun, because even shopping with them when they're NOT sick is just the best, and by the best I mean I want to burn the store down" to my list of woes.

As the day wore on, it was clear that I, myself, am not operating at my healthiest level.  I've been fighting some kind of sinus issues for weeks and apparently they were all, "You know what?  We haven't made her miserable on a bone-deep level in a while.  Let's do that TODAY."  So I'm achey and tired and have a sore throat and want to lie in bed all day.  But it's my kid's turn for that.  And I get it.  I'm not begrudging him having a stomach bug.  But it's a Little Thing that made it onto the list.

Then the 4-year-old got home and apparently had yet another bad day at school.  I love him, I love his strength and independence and fierce sense of justice, but I really wish he could just follow directions, be a good listener, be conscientious of his classmates, and not do his own thing for one damn day.  Today was not that day.  Tomorrow won't be that day, either.  That day doesn't exist.  Someday I'll be thrilled about it.  You know, when he doesn't live in my house anymore and I don't have to field phone calls from his teacher while I'm trying to give his sick brother a bath.  Today, it's another item on the list.

And because I started out the day with a heaping dose of parental guilt over not believing my oldest kid about being sick, I finished it off with a second dose by just feeding the youngest some frozen chicken nuggets and fries.  And I made sure it was a double dose by not even clearing off the dining room table for him; I just shoved all the school papers and Transformers and whatever other crap was on there down to the far end so he'd at least not be able to smear anything with ketchup.  Because the dishes are piled up in the sink and I haven't gone to the grocery store and I didn't clean the house over the weekend (I WAS WORKING, GOD...also, I did laundry, does that count?) and I. just. could. not. even.  All this, on the list.

I've already been struggling with backpedaling into a depressive state recently.  I just can't get myself synced with the 4-year-old's school schedule (it's Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday, and WHO CAME UP WITH THAT BULLSHIT?) and sorting my own work schedule around it.  It's made me back into a crappy, short-tempered mom who just wants to breathe for a few minutes because I'm either working all day and after the kids have gone to bed, or I'm taking care of the 4-year-old and then working after they've gone to bed, and it's exhausting and, and, and...

My woe list is long.  If I compare it with the woes of others, it shouldn't be.  I'm not afraid of my home being bombed in the night.  I'm not worried my cancer-riddled child won't wake up in the morning.  I know where my next meal is coming from (the goddamn take out place, that's where).  When I think of all these things, I add to my woe list "feeling broken down when you have no right".

But I do.  I've struggled with this concept for many, many years, but I do have a right to my own dark day.  I get to feel horrible.  My sadness and frustration and anxiety do not take away from anyone else's right to feel their feelings, either.  I get to hate it.  I get to want to cry until I physically can't cry anymore.  I know I normally write funny takes on the day when my husband goes out of town to combat any feelings of inadequacy with humor.  Also, it's a good tool for me.  It gives me a positive thing to do to get through a slightly rougher patch of dealing with young kids on my own. 

This is not a "slightly rougher patch".  This is a black hole for me.  I am done, and the first day isn't even over yet.  My nerves are shot from waiting to hear the 4-year-old start wretching, too, and knowing I'll have to sleep in his room curled around a trash can, waking up every few hours to soothe and clean and deal.  Knowing I have a work assignment I have to get turned in tomorrow and they don't really care what my night was like, because it's a government deadline and they don't move those.  Not eating much myself for fear it'll be me next, and being shaky and cranky because of it. 

I get it's "just" a stomach bug.  I get that I sound like a teenager at the peak of drama season.  But I wanted to share this because I don't always handle things with humorous grace.  Sometimes I don't handle things at all.  I thought about just not writing anything, but just in case some other poor mom (or dad) out there has ever felt completely, and I mean completely, run over by the day or week or month or year you've been dealt, I'm sorry.  I understand.  I'm reminding you to remind myself, we are not bad parents if we have a breakdown and let our kids watch movies all day until we can get our shit together again, or if we snap at them when they don't deserve it because our woe list is COMPLETELY full that day, or if we cry the whole time we're cleaning up our kids and Lysoling the hallway walls (because of course they rubbed on the walls, why wouldn't they?) and eating the leftover frozen nuggets. 

Today will end.  I know that.  Tomorrow will, too.   We'll all be healthy again (...in May).  Right now, though, I'm going to wallow.


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