Oct 062009
 

Every few weeks our family’s “state of the sister” sanity system fails and I end up having a full blown mommy meltdown. I usually tell myself that this phenomenon is inevitable and justifiable due to all the laundry and whining and refereeing and bathing and signing permission slips and mopping and bending over to pick up so many things and the general, overwhelming reality of being a caretaker to several helpless human beings. But I suspect my meltdowns could be more closely traced to my low tolerance for the typical turbulence of life.

Regardless of how it happens, occasionally I decide that life is impossible and that someone must fix it.

And we all know who that someone is.

So I call Craig at work to deliver the dramatic speech I’ve been mentally rehearsing all morning and he answers with a whispered “hello?” which is supposed to indicate to me that he’s doing something important. And so I say “I know it’s probably a bad time to call but the thing is it’s a much, much worse time at home. So I’m sorry but I think I have to leave the family .” And he always responds with some version of: “Wow, honey. Sounds really bad. What can I do?” Because he read somewhere that this is a good thing to say to a deteriorating wife. And it is. So I take a deep breath and say, “Funny you should ask because I’ve actually identified some possibilities. Do you have a pencil?”


“I need a bigger house for pete’s sake and also a nanny and either one more or one less child – I haven’t decided which – and just a teeny glass of wine because it’s been years and how can anyone be expected to be a mother without a single performance enhancing drug? And I also need to quit teaching and quit writing and become a yoga instructor. Also, I need to withdraw Chase from school because the paper work is just brain shattering and I’d like to plan a two week vacation immediately and also hire a housekeeper and cook and live-in-therapist. Furthermore, the suburbs are killing my soul and I think our family really belongs on a ranch. Without any animals. And in walking distance of a mall. Then I think I’ll be fine.”


And Craig always says that yes, these are all completely normal and manageable requests. And that he totally understands and even agrees that life would be less impossible if we just made these few simple adjustments. But since he can’t take care of them immediately because he’s actually giving a presentation at the moment, maybe, just for now, I could pour myself a big glass of water and go take a bath. Just for now. And then after work we will certainly get wasted together and go ranch shopping.

And so I hang up, find a video and place the big kids in front of it with enough pretzels to last awhile. Then I decide that the baby looks tired even though she doesn’t at all, so I deposit her in the crib. Then I step over the carnage on the family room floor and gently escort myself and my glass of water to the bathtub. And I lie in the warm water and drink the cold water for a long while. And there is something about the water that helps, friends. What is it about water? It’s like morning, I guess. It’s like starting over.

And when I get out and dry off, I feel better. Even without the ranch. And when Craig gets home we don’t speak of the breakdown, because it would be ridiculous to discuss it every time, but he does raise his eyebrows which means “Are we cool?” and I don’t even nod, just sort of smile instead, and he breathes deeply. And he thanks God, probably, for getting our little family through another day.

Oct 052009
 

Last night at dinner, Chase asked for a glass of milk. I, of course, said no because we don’t drink milk in our house since when it spills, it stinks. And we already stink badly enough. But he whined and begged and I started thinking about his last well check, and how our pediatrician kept harping on “the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency, Glennon” even after I explained again how the milk is all the way in the back of the grocery store which is really much too far for us to walk. And how she stood up very straight and said sternly, “Glennon. It’s really not that far. People walk to the milk all the time.” And how I said “Well. That’s probably very easy for someone who gets all her vitamins to say …but my poor, vitamin deficient family is very tired.”

And how she said victoriously,“Exactly.”

To which I responded, “I know. Exactly.”

At which point she wrapped her hands around her stethoscope, squeezed hard, and then sat down and sighed. Probably wishing she’d gone to law school.

Perhaps these circular conversations are the reason our family is charged twice what other families pay for well checks. Seems fair.

Anyway, while I was remembering all of this Chase was STILL whining for milk so I sighed at him and said “FINE. But I want you to swear on your baby sister’s life that you won’t spill it. Do you SWEAR?” And he said yes, he swore. Even though he thought we weren’t supposed to swear. And I said it’s okay to swear when it’s about spilling milk and mommy’s really tired. And I poured him a glass of milk and put it on the table. As I turned to put away the gallon that Craig had heroically retrieved from the store, I immediately heard a crash and a waterfall sound followed by terrified silence from the children and husband. I whipped around and studied the pool of milk on the table which was rapidly transferring itself into Chase’s lap and the floor. The rest of the family stared at me, waiting to discover whether this was going to be one of those times when Mommy suddenlyleaves the house for awhile. For a good fifteen seconds, all we heard was the drip, drip, drip of milk hitting the floor. Chase nervously watched the baby, visibly grateful that she hadn’t keeled over yet in response to his swear-gone-wrong. Then he looked at the milk mess and said:

WELL. THIS IS UDDERLY UNBELIEVABLE. “

Silence.

“Get it mom? Get it? Because ofthe cow?”

His face turned up toward me like hope incarnate.

I have no idea where the boy learned to use humor to distract people from his mistakes but I wholeheartedly approve.

No more milk. And sippy cups till college.

Oct 012009
 

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is
something we tune into.”

- Wayne Dyer

Ever since this interesting day, I’ve been thinking about how lessening the competition among women might better our chances at friendship and personal peace.

I think comparison and competition exist partly because we believe that there is a scarcity of good things in the universe. And that belief makes us kind of small and scared and unable to feel true joy for others or peace for ourselves.

Let’s see.

When a friend, or God forbid, a frenemy, mentions that she’s received a promotion at work, her son won an award at school, she’s just bought her third vacation home, or recently lost ten pounds…how do we feel?I know we say we feel happy for her, but how do we really feel? I think sometimes we really feel a little panicked. Like a determined bride at one of those terrifying Feline’s Basement wedding dress sales, we feel like our friend’s news means that now we have to run a little faster, push a little harder and get more aggressive in general. Because we think if our friend’s family is getting extra money, approval, admiration, and general blessings…that must mean there are fewer of those things less left over for our family. And how do we feel when one friend gossips about another? I know you probably don’t respond this way because you are lovely, but a little secret part of me always thought…“SCORE. Less respect for gossip victim, more respect for me.”

Like an author I love wrote, some of us believe that there is a “cosmic pie” and a bigger piece of goodness for you means a smaller piece for me.

Think about the people in your life who operate under this scarcity principle. You know who they are, right? They’re the people who cannot stand for light to shine on others. Who grab attention back as soon as they feel they’ve lost it in a conversation, who respond to your news with their bigger news. They find little acceptable ways to put people down. They are the ones who make you feel jumpy and nervous in general. And when you leave their company, you feel sort of discombobulated and smaller but you can’t put your finger on why.

A few years ago I got a little overwhelmed and consumed by jealousy so I decided to try believing in abundance. I decided, with the help of my long suffering and eternally patient tutor, Jesus, to quit believing in half empty or half full, and start believing in completely full. And it sort of looked like this: When a friend shared good news, and I started feeling jealous, I told myself, kindly and gently (which is the only acceptable way to tell yourself anything) to cut it out because scarcity is a lie and the truth is that there is ENOUGH to go around. And you guys, somewhere along the way, I think I’ve actually started believing myself. And I’ve been able to relax, enjoy other women a little more and stop grabbing so much. On my stable days, I even understand that not only can I allow other people to keep their good stuff…I can even give my own good stuff away because when I do, more will always be made available to me.

It’s like when my dad takes me out on the Chesapeake bay at dawn to watch the fishermen pour from their nets the thousands of fish they catch every morning. And I always think, MORE? Millions of fishermen have been at this for century upon century and there are still more fish? It’s like magic. Or, you know, God.

What do you think?