Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, September 1, 2011

If Not Now, Then Soon

Yesterday I shocked myself into silence. Yesterday I found myself so at odds with myself that I sent everyone to bed early just so I can sort it out. And then didn't and went on the internet and lulled myself into a space of unthinking calm.

Yesterday I was so angry and embarrassed at my own daughter that I shrieked at her like a crazy person and yanked her to her room by her wrist, holding on to her so tightly I left a red ring on her skin.

The night ended with Coco-pop in the hospital (she's fine now,but that's another post)so it kind of slid out of my mind, and more importantly, out of Princess' mind. But it happened, and I sat down afterwards at my computer desk, thinking, I am the worst mother ever. I never should have had children. While in her room, Princess howled, "It is NOT kidei to be your CHILD! You are a silly SILLY Ima!"

I felt silly. I also felt overwhelmed and speechless. And other big words conoting my general incompetence and lack of available word power. She had hit me repeatedly in the park, in front of everyone, because I said that we were not having yogurt for dinner; we were having chicken. Red-faced, I spoke to her calmly and told her we do not hit our Ima, but she was overtired and out of control. I marched her home, calm on the outside but my heart was beating so hard I felt the blood in my face. As soon as we got inside my building, I lost it.

I regained it as soon as I got inside my apartment and could put the four thousand pound baby and the packages down and drink a cup of vodka and orange juice water. It was a moment, the loss of control, the wishing she was not there and I was anywhere else, the world turning red,but it's happened before. Not for real, but in my head. We are going to the park, and they are pouring water on my newly washed floor. The baby poops through his clothes. The girls fight for a half hour before going to sleep.

And each time this relatively minor thing happens, (on a scale of one to ten, one being an ice-cream cone and ten being the holocaust, I never rank more than a two. I need a different scale.) I think, I got things I want--no need--to do. I gotta write/clean/cook/have a cup of coffee. I want--no, need--to have a little time to think, and little time to myself. And THEY are keeping me from that.

I bumped into a friend of mine today in front of the supermarket. She was putting packages into the bottom of her double stroller while her kids spilled yogurt on the top. I was going home, in the opposite direction

"Princess," I called. "Let's GO. We have to get going."

This friend of mine is a calm soul with a beautiful wonderful smile. She is always looking at her children with this dreamy kind of look. "I love you," she always says to them, wonder in her eyes at their existance. "I love you," she said to them now as the yogurt dribbled into the bottom of the stroller, making sticky little smears all over the eggs, milk and apples.

"Princess," I said again. I watched the yogurt pooling in the carriage basket. I would have yanked the kids, out, scrubbed the whole thing, sighed a martyr's sigh and put them back in, promising no yogurt for a week. In a calm voice, with my heart pounding, thinking, we have to GO.

This friend looked at me. "Where are you going?"

"Home," I said, frowning at Princess who was fiddling with her bike. "I want to put them in early, because school starts tomorrow."

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea. But it's only five o'clock."

"I know, I just--you know, dinner, bath, clean-up--it takes time. So we gotta go. Princess!" She started walking towards me, and we sighed identical sighs.

"We should probably go, too," she said. She eyed her yogurt covered clan. She smiled; her eyes went dreamy. "You know what my mother says to me. She says,--pointing at her stroller full of sticky progeny-- this is your destination."

And it's corny but oh is she right. I'm anxious to get to the park, but why can't the fun time start now, on the way? I want them to sleep, but I don't even enjoy myself if I resort to lazer eyes to get them to behave. The dishes get done. So does the laundry. I even get my cup of amareto coffee.

She was so disrespectful, but instead of making me pause and think--what should I do, how do I respond to this in the here and now--it made me furious.

What is my rush? Why am I so upset? Why am I hurrying them up? Where am I going?

They are right here.

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