Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gratitude Adjustment

I was not thankful on Thanksgiving. I was sullen and bitter about having to cook "special food" after already having cooked meals after meal of unspecial food. I missed my friends, and wished I were sitting around a big table with them, eating ridiculous desserts and laughing at inappropriate jokes.

I was not thankful yesterday either, not even in the "thank God it's over"-sense. We went to the zoo, and I tried to get it together. Watched the gorillas napping, reminded myself that I'd made it through another holiday with my relationship and most of my sanity intact.

I'm glad I'm not a zoo gorilla. At least they have heat lamps.

I relaxed a little and tried to feel good about life and myself, and I was almost there by bedtime...and then I got undressed.

Naked and suicidal. It's my new thing. I can feel semi-okay about myself fully dressed, but when the clothes come off and there's nothing to shield me from the reality of my saggy body, self-hate courses through me like a drug. I went to bed angry, which you're not supposed to do, and lay there wishing I could slice pieces off myself. Then I imagined getting up, taking a gun (which I do not own) outside and killing myself on the front porch. All because of a loose, flabby belly.

The insanity of it was not lost on me.

I am very glad I don't own a gun.

As I do whenever such invasive thoughts arise, I contemplated the reality of my suicide. Why would I do it on the front porch, I wondered. So everyone would see? As a testament to...something? I couldn't quite put my finger on why, but it seemed wrong to do it in the house. I'd be making a mess I didn't have any right to make.

Then I thought about how dying would mean that I'd never get to cuddle Ivy again, and felt a deep sorrow in my chest. If I were going to kill myself tonight with that gun that (thank God) is nowhere near my house, I'd want to wake Ivy up first and nurse her one last time.

How unfair to her it would be if I killed myself! And how very unfair to Westley!

I thought about how tainted the entire season would become for him, especially. He's almost six now. He would remember forever. Because there, right between Thanksgiving and his birthday, would always be the anniversary of his mother's death. How awful.

I am so very thankful that my children keep me from going off the deep end.

There was a time when suicide was a real threat to my life. Now it appears mostly as a recurring selfish fantasy—the only sure way of escaping my life and, more importantly, my body.

But thoughts of suicide inevitably lead me back to the miracles that are my children. I cannot imagine my death without imagining their trauma. It's an emotional paradox, feeling so repulsed by my body while knowing that there are two tiny people who adore and rely on me. The same two people my body supported perfectly from the moment their cells first began to divide.

I love them more than I can hate myself. And that's really saying something.

Whether my darkness is real (in the sense of brain-chemistry) or just a scary story I tell myself, the death fantasy pushes me backwards into gratitude.

I'm glad I can lose my mind without losing everything.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Up to Here


Inevitably, it happens that I run into someone I haven't seen in a while, and she asks the question I dread: "What have you been up to?"

I freeze at this question every time. Don't say "nothing," I tell myself. But that's the first thing that pops into my head: Nothing.

I can tell myself over and over that I don't do nothing. I do not-nothing all the time, every day. For one, I cook (and clean up after) three meals a day. That alone is something, I remind myself.

But homemaking (and mothering) day after day is not the same as being "up to" something. I can't answer the question by saying that I walk Westley to school on weekdays; I walk home and put Ivy down for nap; I sweep; I drink decaf because I think caffeine makes my anxiety worse. I feel boring.

I don't want to be a downer by letting the conversation to crash and burn. I rack my brain for something interesting about my life. I come up empty. I feel empty.

"Oh, you know..." I shift from one foot to the other, "nothing much. I'm still home with the kids."

For a long time I held onto the idea that as my children got older, I would have some space to stretch out a little, that I would find more things to get up to. Things may spiral in that direction eventually, but so far, the opposite is true. The bigger my children grow, the smaller my life becomes.

There's so much to love and be thankful for here in this life I've built. I'm just not sure where I fit into it.


Monday, November 11, 2013


Fall Swing

It's been a month since I sat down to write. It's not that I haven't been writing, exactly I write all the time without actually writing. I compose phrases and paragraphs while nursing the baby toddler, or chopping onions, or driving (until I realize I'm driving and then I'm terrified for a moment as I remember how dangerous driving actually is, piloting a half-ton of metal over a bridge at 50 mph).

My mind is a mess of moments I don't want to forget—Rob pointing out that Aladdin doesn't follow the principle of "Chekhov's tiger" or doing his impression of Bizarro Tim Gunn ("Make it worse!"), Ivy mastering the word no which she pronounces "nyo," Westley explaining the life-cycle of the pumpkin—but when evening comes, I don't feel like typing anything out. I just want to rest.

* * *

Pumpkin Patch

The tiredness is ridiculous. I feel like such a cliché—the exhausted stay-at-home mother of two—but there is just not enough of me to go around.

Mondays are the worst. I wake up angry, and I can't explain why, until I force myself to just sit with my unpleasant feelings (and a hot mug of something). Weekends are spent in a state of constant motion and productivity, ensuring that there's food and clean clothes and breaks and fun, and then it's Sunday night and I haven't done anything to take care of myself except shave.

Forget those first few weeks after the birth of the baby, now is when I could really use a postpartum doula. The most awesome thing it the world would be having someone come over to bring a casserole and clean my bathroom.

* * *


I didn't take pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes. I just forgot, and then Halloween was over and it seemed stupid to dress them up afterwards. Westley was Thor, with his vowel-less hammer. Ivy was a devil with chicken pox. Or something.

We spent Halloween afternoon at the doctor's office. Ivy was covered in blisters, spots, and this angry red rash-looking thing. I love our doctors for preventative care, but when you actually have a sick baby and would really like someone to look at her today, they suck. The doctor we saw was mildly annoyed with us for taking up her time, and her exasperation only grew when she examined Ivy. The verdict: if it was in fact chicken pox, it was a very atypical case.

Westley had a good time trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with Rob, while I stayed home for a crabby, itchy little girl who wanted nothing more than to nurse for hours at a time.

* * *


Westley is rocking kindergarten. He complains about having to do homework, but then he does it and it's no big deal for him. I, on the other hand, am a mess about homework.

I'm a pretty smart chick. I can read and understand some heavy-duty academic stuff, but kindergarten homework makes me feel like a complete idiot. I can do an auteurist reading of Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho, but I have NO IDEA how to help an almost-6-year-old learn to write a lowercase T.

* * *

Ivy is on the edge of some kind of language explosion. She understands 85% of what we say to her. I just made that number up, but she can answer questions yes or no and follow simple directions. Just last week she started saying "Mama" as a distinct word—as opposed to "mamamamamamama!"

Ivy's other favorite words: no, milk, me, more, Daddy, uh-oh, thank you, that, mew-mew (which is how she talks about the kitty), and up. And she can sing along with the "Oh, oh, oh, o-oh" part of Lady Gaga's "Scheiße."