“This was written when the kids were young, a sort of therapeutic activity. It was my first attempt at writing again after many long years.”
It was the first week in September, and there was only one week left before school started. I was dreaming about how proud I was of myself, being such a patient mother all summer long, so understanding, so helpful. This particular day started out like any other typical summer day. I woke my husband for work and went back sleep for fifteen more winks.
It didn‟t seem like I had complete the fifteen when someone tapped on my shoulder. Sleepily, I mumble, “Christina, you can go to the bathroom yourself this time. But if you still feel sick to your stomach, you can call me if you need me.” Somewhere out of the mist, I hear a rather deep voice mumble back, “I don’t mean to bother you, but it’s raining outside. If you don’t have anything else to do today, can you keep an eye on the new downspout and try to keep the rain from forming puddles on the new porch floor?”
Rain? Nothing to do? We have been having some marital problems lately, and communication seems to be one of the main reasons. Another reason is that he gives me instructions, doesn‟t listen to any responses I might make, and then disappears. As I‟m trying to get my eyes open, I already feel the stress of the relationship. As usual before I can open my eyes to respond, my husband is gone. Pressing my nose to the window, I see that yes, it is raining. Why couldn‟t it wait to rain until we got the roof finished over the new porch? And, there goes my schedule for the day. I look out over the garden that had beckoned me yesterday in the sunshine and that I just couldn‟t get to then and had scheduled for today. Darn!
This time, it really is my eight-year-old daughter at the door. “Mommy, I don’t feel good.” Several times during the past two nights, she had said that, but been fine during the day. So, like a recording, I say, “You’ll be okay, honey. Let’s go downstairs and see how our tadpoles are doing.” Good idea. Her summer project from school continues to grow daily, right there in the middle of the kitchen table. That can take anyone‟s mind off just about anything. Thank heavens for amazing metamorphosis.
Before I get to the bottom of the stairs, I know my eleven-year-old son is up, “Kerschew! Kerschew!” Good thing he has his father‟s long legs and can make it to the Kleenex box in time for his morning allergy ritual. “It’s raining, Mom….Kerschew!” I wait patiently for the significance that this statement has for him. “Good day to go to the movies…Kerschew!” Aha! My science fiction nut is after me again. So, I make a brilliant suggestion that comes only after so many years as a mother, “Let‟s talk about it after breakfast.”
All of a sudden, everything starts happening at once. My daughter wants to feed the tadpoles and goldfish, giving them too much and clouding the water. Well, it‟s time to change the bowls anyway. Our drenched cat is scratching at the door to come in, and in Steven‟s rush to let him in, knocks his juice all over the clean tablecloth in the dining room. Oh, well, I have to do the laundry anyway. I go to mop up and he lets in the cat, who tracks in mud and rainwater all over the light-colored wall-to-wall carpeting.
From what must be habit, I manage to clean everything up fairly soon; the cat becomes dry, the fish and tadpoles get clean bowls, and the kids settle down for breakfast. But, I find it hard to eat, as I am having trouble breathing…not so much from the exertion as from the frustration I seem to be feeling. Since the kids and I always try to be open and honest in our house, I let it all surface, “Rrrr,damn!” And I slam my fist down on the table.
Not knowing which of them made me angry, the kids stare at me with their spoons halfway to their mouths, and even the cat looks up. Since I have the full attention of my audience, I continue, “I can’t stand it! First it has to rain and I can’t do what I need to do today. Then, I play nurse to a child who is only sick during the middle of the night! I cook, clean up, vacuum, launder, chauffeur to music and dance lessons, soccer, allergy doctor, everything! It’s not fair!” And I revert back to my childhood by sticking out my lower lip and staring into my cereal bowl.
Normally, we decide what to do for the day at breakfast with the kids chattering away making plans. But today, it seems something will be different. For several moments, the kids sit there looking at their distraught mother and at each other, spoons still in midair.
Christina, usually the one to get in the first and last word, is speechless. Steven, a little older and usually the quieter one, feels that perhaps he should take the situation in hand, “Mom, are you okay?” I can‟t seem to look at him, so I simply say, “No.” Barely audible, he says, “What’s the matter?” For several moments more, everything is quiet except for Mother Nature. Even though there is loud thunder and lightning, the kids don‟t seem to hear it. After all, when your mother falls apart, the whole world falls apart.
Finally able to breathe a little easier, I say, “I’m having an identity crisis. I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m so busy being a wife, mother, cleaning woman, bill-payer, gardener, cook, that I don’t do anything I want to do anymore—just for me!”
The kids continue looking at each other, and back at their pouting mother. Christina, having once again found her voice, says, “I know you like to play with games, Mommy. If you would like to, we can go downstairs in my little playhouse and play some of my games together. And, I’ll even let you win!” Suddenly, the ideas burst forth from these sweet young minds in rescue of a „Mother in Distress‟. Steven can‟t seem to resist trying one more time, “Mom, you know how much you like to go to the movies. I know this great science fiction film that is showing today!”
I am feeling so stressed, from my marriage, and from the pressures from being a mom; now add to that the love and concern I feel from my children. A strange sound begins from deep inside me. Sort of like a low rumbling, the pressure and stress builds and builds into loud, uncontrollable laughter. Like a volcano erupting, tears stream down my face like lava. It takes several moments before it is over, moments where the kids don‟t know whether this means everything is all right again, or that their mother has gone over the edge.
There I sit, my cereal all mushy, my coffee cold, with a silly grin on my face. At the same time, outside the sun is coming out. The storm has passed. And, how warm and good I feel as I look at my children, who may not always say they love me and appreciate me, but are willing to share with me what they have to make me happy.
And, as I sit there smiling at them, Steven says, “Mom, the sun is out! Kerschew!”
Sometime later, a much-healed mother has checked the new downspout, swept the rain water from the porch floor, and headed out to conquer her garden work. The kids have long since recovered and gone out for a bike ride. But soon, Steven is back, looking at me, as I am on my hands and knees conversing with the weeds, “Mom, my bike chain slipped. Can you fix it?”
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I register the thought that if I ever need to have another identity crisis, I can add one more identity to my list – a mechanic. Isn’t it amazing how many different people you become when you are a mom?
Thank you for reading another true story from my life. For more information on me, see my About Me Page.