I’m just going to come out and say it:
I am not doing well.
I am spent. I am drained. And now we are entering the season of giving? Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I am tapped out.
I’m a mom of two boys, two and four years old. They are brilliant little crazed monkey lunatics. My heart is on my sleeve and in my throat every minute of the day. It’s exhausting. Strangers see my tight face in the grocery store as my boys have a screaming match in aisle 9 and offer me, “These are the days! You don’t want to miss them!” Seriously? Cause I gotta tell ya, if I ever have a moment to myself, I am daydreaming about dropping them both off at a highly-rated Charter school with after-hour yoga care while I, I don’t know, take a hike or finish reading a paragraph in a magazine or simply do the dishes without someone clinging to my leg or wiping their nose on my jeans.
I’m also gut-wrenchingly sad about this election. I know, I know, it’s politics and I should keep this clean but, man, my girl did not win and it hurts. And the more I hear the news, the more it burns. It’s over. It’s done. And it did not go my way.
Oh yeah, and I’m having a mid-life crisis; did I mention that? Oh, and my mom hasn’t been well. Oh, and I need a job. And a break. Did I mention I was exhausted?
The thing is, I live for this time of year. I love it. All the gifting. And the Santas packed in their Mazdas rushing off to the mall. I love the cookies (oh, the cookies) and the hob nobs and the twinkly lights and the jolly music and the fake snow — I mean, it’s my jam. But this year… it’s feeling hard to gear up. And if I see one more billboard or catalog or commercial asking me to GIVE MORE this year, I may hurl a safety pin at it.
If I ever have a moment to myself, I am daydreaming about dropping them both off at a highly-rated Charter school while I, I don’t know, take a hike or finish reading.
I give all day long. To my high-octane children. To my withering career. To my husband (seriously, are you sick again?). I don’t own a single second for myself. I don’t have a dime for a gift. My mind is mush, and my body, now a toddler jungle gym, is banged up and bruised.
What’s left to give?
And then it comes to me, as it usually does: In the shape of a mini-person, whose jaw line matches mine, with soft eyes and half the sandbox in his hair.
“Momma, will you stargaze with me?”
“Not now, Mommy has to clean up dinner.”
“But then after, Mommy, will you?”
“Then I have to clean your bath and the pee on the floor and the…”
“But then after, Mommy?”
“If you brush your teeth and watch your brother and get your PJs on, maybe I’ll have one minute.”
Dishwasher stacked. Bath rinsed. Pee dried.
Teeth brushed. PJs on. Brother “watched.”
All right. You win. I have exactly. One. Minute.
I enter the boy’s bedroom, and there it is: The night sky projected in my two-bedroom apartment. My son has laid out every blanket on the floor (why did you have to take out every single blanket it’s bedtime not to mention filthy on this…). Pillows were arranged. A barely working starry nighttime turtle lit up the ceiling along with every glow–in-the-dark sticker he could find.
I laid down on his Thomas the Train comforter and scooped up one boy under each arm. The little one stopped squirming and snuggled into my overheated body. The older acted as ringmaster, getting up to adjust the dimmer switch or to rearrange some IKEA light up animals, but then he rested beside me, head on my shoulder. And we looked up at our imaginary sky. And it was quiet. For a solid four and a half minutes.
I didn’t have to give. I just had to give in.
My boy kissed me on the cheek and said, “Thank you for stargazing with me, Momma,” and, for that, I could have cried for a year for a million reasons. One being that he actually used “thank you” in a sentence. And one, that I almost missed this.
I am wound so tightly these days. My nerves are shot and my patience is thin. And I am working so damn hard on keeping it together that I say “no” to my kids — a lot. Or “I can’t” or “not right now.” I interrupt without letting them finish. I look at Facebook to tune out when they’re eating. I’d rather do the dishes or wipe the floor than take a moment to exhale because if I did, the unpredictable might happen — and I’m not sure if I could handle being out of control right this second.
This month, instead of focusing on what I can give, I am just going to try to give in. To the noise in my apartment. To the clutter. To the mayhem. And say “yes” a little more often.
Cause these are the days, after all. And I don’t want to miss them.