Monday, August 13, 2012

Killing the Blues

Some days are just born bad. A night of hot still air and fitful sleep led to a morning that broke far too soon. I could hear Adele calling from her crib but didn’t want rise and face the day. I felt too fragile, too close to cracking. Why? I don’t know. I just know that mixture of sadness and fear always ends with an explosion. Or tears. Or both. I managed to get the coffee going before it hit. Lucas misbehaving with no sign of remorse, me trying desperately to keep calm. I managed not to scream, to stay firm and in control, but it took all I had. By the time Philip got up I was close to a breaking point. Why? What makes me feel like this, like I can’t even move across the room without losing it altogether? And why today?

Philip tried to help, and did help, though it made me feel worse somehow. Pushed me from that boiling anger into all-consuming sadness. But I didn’t give in. I picked myself up and went on with my day. My goal this morning had been to work out while Lucas was at preschool and then run errands in town. Already it was an hour later than I had hoped, but no matter. I put on my running clothes, buckled Adele into the car seat and hit the road. I still felt weak, but also proud of myself for shaking off the mean reds and plunging ahead. It wasn’t until I pulled up at the trail head that I realize I didn’t have the stroller. Here I was facing my fear and desperation, all geared up to run, and it wasn’t going to happen. I tried to console myself. Really, was it that bad? I have a great life. The fortune of having free time to go running, to have beautiful happy children, to even own a stroller to begin with. That only made me sink lower, reminding me how I had no right to feel the way I did. And yet I did feel that way. And it’s painful.

I didn’t break down though. Philip helped again, responding to my woe-is-me text by advising I let it go and get coffee and a pastry. I went on with my errands, giving myself credit for trying to go ahead with the day when all I wanted to do was crawl back under the covers and stay there. Adele was a bubbly antidote to a heavy heart as we stood in the returns line at Home Depot and shopped for baby wipes at the drug store. Without much to show for the day besides good intentions we fought nasty beach traffic up the mountain, fetched Lucas from preschool, and came home.

The afternoon is nearly over. It’s 97 outside but breezy. When Adele wakes up we’ll head to the pool. My life is good. Very good. No worries. No outside demands.  A loving and understanding husband. Kids that, while demanding, are really very well behaved and good-natured. A wonderful new house that is in fine shaped to be ignored for a while. So I guess that just leaves me. Some days are fine. And some are just born bad.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Home Wreck

When I attended Notre Dame Belmont it was transitioning from a high school to a "college preparatory institution."  To combat dwindling enrollment at this all-girls school — there were 88 girls in my class, only 54 in the class 2 years below us — the staff had put a sharp focus on education. Gone away were the Home Ec classes. Women of tomorrow don’t need to cook and sew! They need top-notch academics to compete in a man’s world!  The retooling did the trick. Enrollment rose and the school thrives today.

Only now, as a mother, do I see what a disservice it was to cut out those Home Ec classes. We were brought up to be super women. To have it all. To balance with a career and a family. To bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan. And that’s all great until we become mothers without a clue of the basics of running a home.

Turns out the home arts come in pretty handy. Would it really have been so bad to teach a little household management to women who, while destined to be the leaders of tomorrow, will still have to make sure the kids are fed, the laundry folded and the house clean for company? The stresses of caring for a family are huge, and those expectations don’t diminish for a working woman. Or for someone like me, who has a career on hold and finds herself drowning as a homemaker.

This is fresh on my mind as I taste the white plum jam I made this week. It was a valiant effort that jelled well but turned out way too sugary. Most of what I try to do around the house ends up like that. Folded sheets are lumpy, hems are crooked, floors never quiet come clean. It works out, but not well.  I read up and try to improve but I’m missing that basic experience of how to do all this. I’m just clueless.  I don’t really beat myself up that much —  life is too short to worry about dust bunnies. But I imagine how much easier this job could be if I had few basic skills under my belt. Because at this stage of my life I don’t have time to go back to Home Ec.

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