Imagine if you will. I traveled over 700 miles to pack up a moving truck, and traveled back. All within the space of two days. With one child in tow along for the ride. The truck is unloaded and returned. The child sent off to her aunt’s for a week of blissful reunion and frolic with her cousins. I spend the rest of that day and the next working my butt off to unpack and unearth all the hidden remaining treasures that had come from said truck. It is the third and final truck rented to gather all our remaining belongings and bring them home to us. That is final: we are officially all moved in and there is nothing else for us to worry about or miss or ponder or anything. We are officially Home. Officially all moved in.
Add into this the other child. My loving handful. He arrives for the rest of the week with me and me alone. Did I mention the sheer exhaustion under which I am operating at that point? I love him. I love him. I love him. But he is like a bull elephant in rut trundling through an overcrowded china shop. And the boxes and piles of things set him even more on edge. Or usually would. This time he seems fine with everything. Even to the point of helping me unpack and go through things. What joy.
I wasn’t sleeping well then. I wasn’t writing either, which totally bugged me. There was no paint or glue or much of anything else going on either. Other than the unpacking and trying to help a friend deal with a stupid almost-not-girlfriend. The boy loves to play and I love to play with him. When I am busy I more prefer to watch him play, but he is an interactive child. He is so lucky he’s cute.
I hate the things that influence the boy. He has been taught by his father that violence is ok. We can hit and smack and punch, because Luke Skywalker and entourage do it. Don’t make me go there. The boy walked up to me, hit me, told me he hated me and walked away. Great parenting by the father unit there. Son quickly found out I wouldn’t play the game the way others play it with him. I will not say I hate you too. I tell him it hurts me and he shouldn’t say such things. Which turns it into a game for him, because he’s playing and I am serious. He tells me he doesn’t love me—and I refuse to repeat the same back to him. Years down the line I do not want there to be that thread of doubt surfacing in the back of his brain that because I said something like that in play I might just mean it on some level. I know he’s playing. He’s giggling and laughing and hugging me and kissing me and wrestling with me. But the sheer stupidity of his father’s actions—or rather the lack thereof where this child is concerned burns me up. This boy could be so much farther ahead if some basic tenets were actually put into action, but that would be work for the father—and then he wouldn’t have his mini-me to show off and rattle on and on about to gather inappropriate attention to himself.
The boy plays with the curtains between the living room and kitchen. He’s playing. The rod bends from the pressure exerted on it. The rod breaks. The curtains come down. I know he didn’t mean to do it. Then the sword fighting with the ends of the broken rod begins. There is no argument when I take them away after I point out he might hurt himself on the raggedy ends. A band-aid works to cover my scratches.
Water spills. Often. Frequently. Over the couch. On the rug. There is food everywhere. Crumbs and bits and pieces. I do fairly well. We have an ant issue—they live in the foundations of the house at the moment—or under the foundation, with the garter snake. They will be moving out later this year. After my next trip to home depot. I pick up what I can and try to ignore the rest. The pillow pit is created, shoving my bed almost to the other end of my bedroom. He sleeps in the pillow pit at night. Every single pillow in the house is stuffed between the wall and my bed. It’s fun. He plays there all day and sleeps there at night. I have a kimono quilt on the wall there. A quilt that cannot be tossed in the washing machine. There are sticky handprints on it. It is the last present the ex-husband bought for me, even though I picked it out and ordered it. But still, the last Christmas present. I am attached to it because of the Oriental theme. The kimono and fans. My walls also hold fingerprints. He’s dug up the floor with his fingers in several small spaces. Where one floor meets another—like the bathroom slate and the slatted wooden floor of the hall. The dog is stressed when the boy is here, especially this time as she was away for a week for training, and then the week-end I was gone was utter hell for her with the stupidity of the ‘dog-sitter’. The dog really misses the girl and is happy to be home. She just wants to love on the boy, but she is still a puppy and she’s a big puppy too. The bird is also in rare form with the boy here, shrieking and shrilling non-stop in retaliation to the energetic bustling of the boy. Or maybe the bird was just sick of watching Rugrats too.
I do not always handle chaos well. When I know I will be able to fix things and manage things, I can deal with some chaos. I can deal with scads of yarn here and there. I can deal with a rummage of books and paper. Pens spilling over the top. But crumbs and bits of food and dog fur and things torn up for the sheer joy of tearing them up because the father allows it at his house. It adds up. I thought I did amazingly well. I was as calm as I could be. All these factors bearing down on me. My own futility in the face of things that I cannot change, people I cannot help.
Then the bottle of water, which was supposed to stay in the kitchen and had been not two seconds before, spilled, and in the grabbing for the bottle knocked a bowl of cereal which I had been trying to retrieve and get rid of since it had gone gross and soggy long ago but the boy was not yet done with when all over the couch and the rug. Cookie crisp cereal went flying all over. I broke.
I emailed the ex, figuring he might be at dharma group since it was before 1p, which means calling him would be useless. Not that he answers the phone when he sees it’s me anyway at any time. I asked the ex to come get him. No response—because even though he can check his email on his phone and even though he knows I will email first—I only get 1 response to every 10 emails—and usually only if I repeat the email more than once. It doesn’t matter if the email is about the boy, the girl, the man on the moon. And no one can tell when a response will be warranted either. Some things set the ex off and things that are important—oh, like the health of said children, are merely neglible and unworthy of his attention in his book—at least when it comes to me. But let me send a political forward about something I find hysterical and the man blows up like a puffer fish on crack. Do you know it is almost April—and I am still asking for Christmas pictures. He doesn’t have to print them. They are all digital. How hard is it to burn something ot a disk—or post them online somewhere so I can download them? But no, he has to be the one in control at all times, and I have to kowtow to him. The only reason I get to see my son is because I am a free babysitter—and that is exactly how he treats me, like someone he pays to watch the boy, like someone unworthy of spitting on if I were on fire. Granted, if he spat on me I’d set myself on fire again, but at least I have some reasonable reasons for doing so—even if it might take me awhile to explain them (halitosis is hard to kill—took me over a year to get his germs out of my mouth—and the mouths of the kids).
Now, imagine if you will, me on my knees, surrounded by soggy cookie crisp cereal, remnants of a book the boy had shredded for some reason (he said he wanted to see how it was put together basically), random toys, a milk-soaked rug already stained with things I could not identify, a couch now stripped of its cushions (which were sitting in the bathtub til I could manage to clean them—thank goodness it’s a $15 couch—and it’s scotch-guarded too). I am in years, absolutely overwhelmed. I’d been through some stuff that rocked my world between the trip and the boy’s arrival, not to mention the trip. My best friend is going through a really screwed-up almost break-up—and he’d been having a bad time the night before. I don’t sleep well usually when the boy is here, mostly because of the competition to see how can dive deeper into my skin between boy, girl and dog when they sleep—but I had been more worried about him sleeping in the pillow pit, even though he touched me the whole night, mostly, so I didn’t really enjoy the having the whole bed experience. Work is never easy (I work from home, on the phone) when the boy is here, because he has to check on me a lot (he gets really worried if he doesn’t know where I am and/or can’t see me), because I am afraid I won’t always hear the ring, because of a lot of things. So, I was stressed. Stressed. Are you with me?
On my knees, tears streaming down my face, picking up icky stuff from the floor like I had to when I was little and my brother was just starting to eat real food (which I thought had to be the most disgusting job in the world at that time-and I still sort of feel that way), the little man of my life comes over and says, what’s wrong mom? I of course make sure he knows I am not mad at him and that I am just overwhelmed by having to clean up and there is just so much to do. Tears were coming faster. He walks over to me, pats me on the shoulder and on the hair and tells me, don’t worry mom, it’s ok. You’re the best mom in the whole world. You know that, mom? You are just the best mom in the whole wide world. Don’t worry , mom, it’ll be ok. You’re the best mom in the world. So, skip the tears that went from tears of frustration to just tears of blind joy and astonishment. He got a hug, and I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me too, what with me being the best mom in the whole wide world again.
After I got the gloppy bits of cereal off the floor, I chased the little rascal around the house, tickling him and playing in the pillow pit with him, and just being happy. It was the first time he’d told me I was the best mom in the world. And he was so serious and so sincere.
That’s why I am a mom and not confined to a mental hospital or something. It’s moment like that, with a pat, a kiss and a smile, that makes all the insanity so worth it.