The kids are home from school for the next two weeks. Two. Weeks. They should be outlawed, school holidays. And kids.
When I complain about holidays and kids, one of my best friends reminds me, with a smirk on his face, "You know, children are self-inflicted." And he takes pride is reminding me of this because he has no children of his own.
Milly and Dennis are great kids, don't get me wrong. I love them more than life itself. It's just that, sometimes, they are more than any mortal can handle. And this time, they have me at a weak moment. And they know it. I know they do. I can see them give each other "the look" before they start pushing every button on the Mommy keyboard, ending with the "Make Mommy Scream At The Top Of Her Lungs" button. Which, if pushed again, turns into "Make Mommy Tear Her Hair Out And Ask Herself What On Earth Made Her Want To Ever Procreate" button. I am their captive for the next two weeks, and they are going to milk it for all it's worth.
They do innocent, childlike things like throw things at each other, scream minor obscenities, call each other names, chase each other, and argue a lot about just about anything. And I mean anything. Such as whether the sky is blue, cerulean or indigo (which I always thought was a bookstore myself, nothing more, nothing less). Such as who turned the television on, who last took the dog out, and whether or not Mommy actually just said "shit" again or not.
Normally, I can handle these moments of distress without losing my cool to a great extent. However, lately I've been feeling rather stressed, depressed, hormonal and overwhelmed, and it's all I can do to not open the door and walk out. Their arguing, shouting and disagreeing is so constant, it rings in my ears for hours after they've gone to bed. I can usually tune out their barrage of noise pollution, but not when my nerves are already overwrought and frayed.
Of course, you can't explain this to a 13- and 10-year-old, although you'd think you could. As I write this, I'm thinking, 'You're damn right they should understand what you're feeling, and be compassionate.' But I know better. I know because I did exactly as they are doing to my mother many years ago, and I blamed her entirely for her lack of enthusiasm, her withdrawal, her anger, and her depression. I blamed her for years upon years, and that gradually turned to blaming myself, which in turn became what it is now: occasional depression and mood swings that get worse and more uncontrollable with stressful incidents.
I now see what my mother probably went through in trying to raise the three of us in a home where her husband worked a lot, and she was expected to keep a tidy house, make meals, deal with the children, and smile. When she was down, which was quite often (and she was never actually professionally diagnosed), I would be so angry with her and would ostensibly make life more difficult for her in an attempt to perhaps get her attention, to make her see me, react to me, do something, even if it was negative. At least it was something. And her anger thrown back at me would just make me angrier, and the cycle would continue.
I see now that what my mother probably went through all those years was totally out of her control, and had nothing to do with us except for the fact that we probably drove her crazy with our fighting, our disagreements, our perpetual state of anger with one another, and our constant neediness for food, love, attention, things that were just beyond her reach at that time in her life because of her own neediness and lack of attention and love. She did not love herself, or care about herself, so she could not, in turn, care for her children. And we, being children, didn't understand that at all.
I can't say I'm anywhere near that point of desperation. I have some control over my emotions, and I don't end up in bed for three weeks straight like my mother did, not speaking, not eating, just existing. But I can understand how she would get to "that place". I truly do, because I've frightened myself a few times lately feeling the same way: that I could just curl up in a ball and stay in bed with my eyes closed, and that would be much better than actually being part of the world. Cocooning is an art form I am willing and anxious to perfect.
And especially when my lovely, amazingly brilliant and rather cute kids are home for the holidays for two weeks straight, and they argue with me and with each other and knock down my defenses like a badly built rock wall, it's really really difficult to get up and keep going. But I do, I have to. What choice is there? My children need their mom, their rock, their heart. And, by golly, it's Christmas time! So get off my ass I must, and with a smile on my face, dammit.
I guess my bone to pick is with the school board system, not with my kids. Why oh why do students and teachers "need" this time off? Why? And especially when Mr. Handsome is working his rather shapely buns off to get his damn project done before Christmas, and it's up to me to make everything fall into place. My god, the expectations.