Yesterday was a bad day, in my head, and in my house.
I screamed, “GOD FUCKING DAMMIT” at my 8 year-old when he somehow fell off a couch on which he’d been playing video games, his Nintendo Switch remote flying through the air, landing squarely upon my unsuspecting, sensitive skull meat. I’d been lying next to him on the floor, on my phone, trying to answer an email from a customer. My feelings going into that moment were fear for our small business, anxiety over the next right thing to do for our customers and employees, annoyance at having to try to work with the drone of video game and MOUTH sounds from my children. Anger that they just do NOT get how serious things are and how critical it is that none of us get injured, that none of us get sick. Anger that I can’t protect them and I feel inadequate and small and dumb and weak. All the feelings came to head when my head got violently attacked, and I snapped.
The child in question escaped upstairs to my husband, who held and soothed him. I’d like to say that I calmed down, took some deep breaths, and then followed them upstairs to apologize and make it right, but when I did follow them it was to…keep yelling. I wasn’t done. My feelings hadn’t been sufficiently released upon the villain of the moment. “You’re selfish!” I screamed, as he cowered in Robb’s arms. “You don’t pay attention to anyone else! You’re never still….or quiet! You’re always hurting yourself or someone else! You’re a terrible team member!” My husband gently, but firmly, coaxed me out of the room. Did I realize the error of my ways and reasonably eject myself from the situation to go meditate, like a grownup? Welllll….first I yelled, “Selfish!” a few more times, getting the last word in, before I finally walked away. Such a good example of a wise and self-aware human bean. Blerg.
The day lasted 500 more hours.
It rained and was viciously cold.
I stepped in fluid that turned out to be urine and had been there for…a while. (We do NOT have a dog or cat)
I went out for vegetables and bread, things that used to feel safe and wholseome and wise. Now, leaving the house for fucking produce feels like you’re sending flare guns up to alert the zombies. Every step, every turn, every gesture feels like you’re surely picking up the virus, all the viruses, and possibly some parasites, too, cuz why not.
While out, I almost got into a car accident because THAT FUCKING LADY NEEDS TO LEARN TO DRIVE, FOR FUCK’S SAKE, I WILL KILL YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN IF YOU RUN INTO ME AND CAUSE DAMAGE TO MY CAR OR MAKE ME HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL, YOU RAGING ASSHAT. Feelings going into that moment were terror, uncertainty, bitterness, fear, worry, anxiety, fear, so. much. fear.
I don’t know how to go outside, but I can’t just stay in.
No one is safe anywhere. My friends are at the hospitals, being definitely exposed. We’re at home, still probably being exposed, and definitely losing our fucking minds. Everyone is a danger to themselves and others. (Always, but especially now.) And kids just do not get it. Their ignorance is a luxury and a burden. I’m both leaning into their innocense for respite and despising them for their naivety.
Later, when I was snuggling, watching a movie with my 6 year-old, she….bit me on the arm. I sat straight up and yelled “WHAT THE FUCK!?” right into her tiny face. She crumbled, then bolted, escaping into my husband’s arms to be safe from my anger. Feelings going into that were absolute exhaustion, fear, stomach ache, guilt, grief, terror, uncertainty, claustrophobia, chaos, and fear.
Eventually, much, much, much later, I was able to have reasonable conversation with my kids. I apologized for my reactions but told them where my feelings were. I reminded them that things are different right now and we need to be more aware, kind, safe, careful with each other. We need to establish boundaries we haven’t before. We need to show endless grace and love and I’m sorry I scared you and swore on you, but please stop being turd sandwiches for just a few days, mmkay?
After that, I was drained. Just drained. I had flinched all my flinches, sworn all my swears, twitched all my twitches, my nerves were fully shot, and I was just depleted. I hated them all. I hated being a mom, being me, being here, any of this. And I felt sick with guilt becuase we’re together, we’re safe, I’m home….most of my PA, NP, nurse, tech, MD, friends are not home. They would LOVE to be home, dealing with their kids, not at the hospital, dealing with impossible choices, real terror right in their faces, definitely bringing illness into their homes, to their families. I’m being the world’s worst PA, not taking care of any patients, avoiding the immediate threat. I GET to be home, taking care of my people…and I’m doing a shit job of it. I’m screaming and swearing and losing my peace, our peace.
When all my anger was gone, I was just sad. Sad at the pee. Sad at the bite marks. Sad at the head injury. Sad at their stuckness, at their fear of me. Sad that I can’t do better, be better, fix this for all of us. I felt like giving up. My job as a mom, as a PA, as a wife, as a friend, as a boss….is to protect people, to take care of problems, to keep us safe and away from harm. But harm is everywhere and I’m lost as to how to intervene. Also, I’m upset because kids are mean and filthy and loud and mean and gross and mean. Even the good ones. And adults are mean and filthy and loud and mean and gross and mean. Even the good ones.
I told them, “Loves, be still for a minute and listen. Seriously, just sit. Look in my eyes. Just….stop. Put your hands down. Ok. So…we’re all sloppy, sad messes right now. We’re gonna have to ride it out together, and that’s going to involve a LOT of mistakes, moments of pain, moments of embarrassment, moments of meanness and anger and grief…but we’ll say what we’re feeling out loud, we’ll talk about it. I will try not to hide from my pain until it erupts on you, and you do the same. And please also stop being turd sandwiches, I beg of you. Ok, you’re free to- oh, you’re already gone. K. Bye.”
I started writing this hours ago, but had to stop because one kid kicked the other kid in the mouth and made her bleed. Siiiiiiiggggggghhhh.
Thank God for Robb. He’s had such fortitude and grace and love and patience and he’s keeping us together right now. Immensely grateful we have two of us home right now, so, in theory, we can trade-off nervous breakdowns and mental stability, so the kids always have some safe place to go.
I am working on ways to foster mental health in myself, and today has been a better day (other than the bleeding). Sunshine and bike rides and worm hunts and a little more peace.
One day at a time. One 500-hour day at a time.