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.