Today was stressful. I worked hard, swam through a sea of scary stuff, owned all of my sloppy human joe reactions, and then I taught a BIG yoga class of k-4th graders. In that class, I tried something new, and solved a problem I’ve been ticking on. Shanti ninja skills to the rescue! Gave today a C+ and called it good. Then, I came home, where I lasted *possibly* 8 minutes before I kindly dismissed myself from family life and assigned myself to solitary confinement.
I am in the back bedroom, in lockdown. I’ve reviewed the options available to me, and the winner is: Crawling into bed with my laptop, pulling my hoodie up over my head, and attempting to carve some humor out of funky town. Why is it important to share this, some may ask?
Because, friends, I am a trained professional in the art of stress management and mental health and wellness. I have led others through the treachery of rewiring the brain for 8 1/2 years. I teach parenting classes, yoga, and provide mindfulness mentorship to youth. I teach little kids, with patience and this really nice balance of nurturance and boundary enforcement. And when I got home today, I was a total jerkweed. If I don’t share that truth, shamelessly, with the public, then I am a shameful hypocrite.
Here is a rough play by play, in case these things interest you:
Minute 1: Whew, home. Great. Sliding into home. Husband’s making dinner, kids seem happy. Sweet.
Minute 2: Check in. Everyone is good. Sweet. 3 year old playing, check. 8 year old reading, check.
Minute 3: Attempted to say anything at all to husband, who is making dinner and cleaning the kitchen, happily.
Minute 3 and 4 seconds: 3 year old can’t manage his frustration tolerance to last long enough to open the Matryoshka doll he is playing with. Head falls back. Releases half-howl to the sky. Mom hackles half rise, “You got this buddy. Keep trying.” 3 year old reaffirms “Can’t!” Mom reaffirms, “Keep trying, your fingers are getting stronger every day!” Matryoshka pops open. Hackles quarter-desist. “You did it!” 3 year old smiles, “I did it!”
Minute 4: Resume talking to husband. Hug husband.
Minute 4 and 3 seconds: 8 year old realizes 3 year old has her playmobil pegasus, with wings disassembled, in his hand. Starts to quarter-cry but attempts toy-reclamation mission via “Use Words Playbook.” Loses patience, starts to extend spindly fingers across table to procure by force.
Minute 4 and 15 seconds: Not using any of the techniques I’ve demonstrated in parenting classes I teach, but instead, the ones I may have learned in the military. “Stop! Try again. He’s not able to break that.” Spindly fingers retract. Cry increases to half-cry. I repeat, “Stop! Just ask him.”
Minute 4 and 30 seconds: Sister asks for toy with patented big sister murmur that means, “I’m trying not to kick my brother’s ass because mom is watching,” While triumphant 3 year old hands pegasus to sister, While I bark, “Do not throw it TO or AT her, hand it to her nicely and kindly, because nice and kind are two different things.” *Still not full jerkweed, as evidenced by quarter-sense of humor.
Minute 5: Room quiets. I turn my back on children, again attempting dialogue with husband. Meanwhile, quarter-hackle and quarter-sense of humor are staring down the children, from their perch on the muscles that help me keep my shoulders clenched up to my ears where no illusion that I am calm and relaxed can delude others.
Minute 5 and 3 seconds: Largest Matryoshka does not contain magical cascade of ever smaller Matryoshka, but apparently contains “Mrs. Claus.” Mrs. Claus does not belong to 3 year old. 8 year old launches second toy-reclamation mission, now more urgent. Half-hackle spins me around, launches “dirty look.” Quarter-sense of humor attempts to block 8 year old’s Fuss Rising soundtrack, with reflection of how clever and funny it is that 3 year old has re-named “Princess of the Pegasus” as “Mrs. Claus.” 8 year old flatly claims victory for herself. “I named her that.” Quarter-sense of humor is not humored. 3 year old hands over Mrs. Claus under direct orders from Half-Hackle, now of proper noun status. Both children fall to the floor to reclaim “the golden thing that goes in Mrs. Claus’s hair.” 3 year old is diligent in his search, intent on returning item to 8 year old. 8 year old proceeds with Popping the Space Bubble and Third toy-reclamation mission, certain 3 year old is on the dark side.
Minute 5 and 5 seconds: 3 year old begins Counter Attack! via Screech, Awkward Squat Walk toward sister. My seasoned eyes hone in on: Hair Ripping Talons extended and Facial Grimace mode deployed. **Notice 3 year old retract talons (possibly a first time show of strategic maneuverability), just as I launch three-quarter Jerkweed strategy: “Get out, get out, get out! of his space. yell yell yell yell words. no no no no words. lecture lecture lecture words,” effectively clearing 8 year old to safe perimeter outside range of 3 year old’s Counter Attack.
Minute 5 and 7 seconds: Golden thing located. 3 year old hands golden thing to 8 year old. I stare. 8 year old reading. 3 year old playing. I stare. No further 8 year old belongings hidden in Matryoshka. I resume breathing. (Yes this all happened in about 4 seconds.)
Minute 6: Matryoshka stuck. Head goes back. Quarter-howl rings out. I. walk. away. Matryoshka pops open, left hand hits wall near 3 year old. Half-Hackle flinches (hard), prepares to be smothered (hard) by The Mom Who Will Not Suck When Her Kids Are Crying or Feeling Pain. Half-hackle relaxes. There is no crying. Whew.
Minute 7: Foolishly, anxiously, attempt to talk to husband.
Minute 7 and 2 seconds: Matryoshka stuck. Sounds of struggle from 3 year old. Husband hears Sounds of Struggle, “You need help buddy?” Inside voice: No words. Loud sounds of hurricane and debris flying.
Minute 7 and 2.5 seconds: “I am walking away now.”
I retreat to the bathroom, the only reasonably private place in a family home. I returned, and flatly proclaimed that “alone time” was indicated. “I will be in the bedroom if anyone needs me.”
That Matryoshka was going to die, and I, my friends, am a pacifist at heart in spite of my secret storehouse of missiles. No way was I going to let the repressed rage I’m saving up in there fly on the Matryoshka and her keeper. Truly, my 3 year old, my 8 year old, my husband’s kind efforts to rescue the boy from his willing self-torture via Matryoshka, and the misadventures of Pegasus, Mrs. Claus, the golden thing, and the Matryoshka and her many selves, have nothing at all to do with:
1) Donald Trump being referred to, even once, as a “truth speaker.” His face disgusts me.
2) The rest of the politicians’ delicate dances and strategic maneuvers around the raging dumpster fires they are faced with. Not feeling a lot of hope, but I am keeping that candle lit because anything is possible.
3) How lots of them must figure out how to decisively disentangle themselves from any number of things the American public is fed up with, yet they are mired in delicacy so as not to alienate any faction of voter.
4) All the media shaking that dysfunctional shit like a dead squirrel in a dog’s mouth – It’s dead. Relent. It’s starting to rot! Stupidity should get less time.
5) The most incredibly stupid situation going on just a bit east of me, and how it’s set off a slip ‘n slide race to see who can put their own completely selfish and unrelated agendas onto a bunch of people (seemingly from another state) simply breaking the law and making themselves look foolish. No, I am not talking about the Native Americans who are finally saying how really inappropriate this is.
6) The president showing up with emotion and earnesty, and trying to make anything at all happen to change the status quo, and being treated with anything other than human to human dignity. Yeah, make fun of him for being human, because you would have started crying and quit on day 17, you false e pluribus unum’s. Hmm, don’t know what that means?
7) Every single bit of Facebook that I’ve read lately that involves: A) privileged 20-somethings shaming “social justice workers” for making life too hard for them and other people who just want to ignore how they have been, and are currently being fed crap by media and our society every day of their lives. Not to mention they have not even the tiniest idea about how this imprinting has shaped them to out themselves as poorly understanding they are white, comfortable, and damn lucky kids who get to joke about SJW’s as unnecessary, B) how stupid Obama is, C) how feminists are also stupid (unless they are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, because they are funny and pretty so they don’t really count as feminists), D) women’s sports don’t really count, E) I will stop there because, Sounds of Hurricane, and I’m really just barely getting started.
So I am here, throwing my thoughts out like the stuff that drops when one is whittling a stick, instead of Matryoshka-burning. It seems the last few years endlessly trudging through therapy has begun to pay off. I will celebrate my wolverine-taming skills tonight, now that I am calm, but only after I send a quick thank you note to my lovely and very patient therapist.
You see, I am slowly gaining confidence, and this means there is hope – for me, and for all of the other wonderful strugglers out there with similar, delicate dispositions. That is the subtle employment of irony, for those of you who do not know me well, but there is a very real juxtaposition there, too. I have found the temperamental and irritable and furious are some pretty gentle souls underneath it all, and unfortunately stuck with mantras like, “I will try again tomorrow. Crap.”
Maybe the next time I come out of isolation (where I go to hibernate when it all just gets too hard to overlook), and see how ridiculous the world around me is, and have a rough day out in the fray, and then the Matryoshka full of contraband pops, I will not pop. And maybe, the next time I start to feel myself fly up on the wind ala Mary Poppins, and the missiles threaten to launch, I will successfully soothe down the Hackle, so Humor can step up his game. (One can have goals.)