There was nothing unusual or noteworthy about this particular meltdown. No reason it should have been so incredibly grating to me. Sure, it had been a stressful day, but all in all, not any worse than most. In fact, Danny had been incredibly cooperative as the nurse removed his cast this afternoon and I didn't get lost on the way home from the hospital in a city 85 miles away. It was a pretty successful afternoon, all things considered.
Still, as Tommy repeated over and over and over some rant about a purple shirt that he refused to wear tomorrow to his pre-K "purple party" I could barely stand to be in my own skin. Everything inside me screamed for him to just. shut. up. already. I could not take one more meltdown over something so inconsequential it didn't merit a minute's discussion, let alone the better part of an hour.
I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's autism or his language processing issues, but Tommy has a tendency to go from 0 to 100 over the craziest issues. He'll tell me he wants pizza for dinner, but when I place a slice in front of him, he'll just lose it and spend the next 45 minutes voicing his displeasure in a repeated 2 or 3 sentences. Over and over and over again.
Some days, I feel like my children are draining every last little bit of sanity, energy, and emotional fortitude from me. Honestly, I feel like that most days, even the good ones. By the time they are in bed, I am so happy to have a few minutes' peace, I could almost cry.
In fact, some nights I do cry. And not always from happiness.
You see, these kids, they take everything.
They want my attention all the time. They want me to focus on the game they're playing, the picture they drew, the limb they've bruised, the problem they're having, the story they're reading, the booger they've picked.
They expect me to feed them, bathe them, kiss away their tears, bandage them, instruct them, pamper them, cater to their every whim.
If I'm not careful, they sometimes do take everything I've got to give and more. Those times are not good, because they leave me feeling depleted and resentful. I've learned over the years that I have to balance my needs with theirs. I have to take care not to give so much of myself that I have nothing left for myself.
See, it's not just their demands that are exhausting. It's my own. I want to be there for everything. I want to fix all their problems, take away all their pain and discomfort, and bring smiles to their faces.
Still, on days like yesterday, I feel like they are killing me.
Then, there are the other days.
Days like last night when we gathered up the whole gang and went to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" and I watched my kids' faces light up with delight as they laughed and giggled and chortled.
And there are times like this morning when Danny was uber cooperative with chores, so much so that he actually did Char's for her. He followed me around the house with the Pledge and helped me dust while telling me all about the wonders of CLR Cleaner, which he claims cleans everything from toilets to coffee pots. Danny assured me that, "It will give you back your day, mom!" in full-on infomercial voice.
Those other times are ones like when Danny and Charlotte and Tommy reenacted scenes from "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2", getting giddy about "foodamals" and laughing hysterically at their own jokes.
Later, as Danny and I walked up to the library, we talked animatedly about movies, books, and haunted houses. Danny and I had an elaborate and circuitous discussion about how to not go crazy from anticipating Halloween. He concocted all manner of distractions we could use in the next month to keep from thinking too much about trick or treating. We also discussed the book we are writing with Charlotte: Scaredy Squirrel's Halloween Survival Guide. It's a spin-off of one of the kids' favorite series about an OCD, anxiety-ridden squirrel.
As Danny ran ahead on the way home, he looked back at me periodically, to make sure I was keeping up. He was beaming with happiness, and my heart flipped. There are times, like these, that are so incredibly simple, yet sublime, that they literally take my breath away. I feel my love for my kids so tangibly I can barely stand it.
It always hits me hard, that feeling, and my heart is so full it seems hardly possible that I could love someone--three someones, in fact--so utterly without reserve.
And that's when I realize it: they are not killing me. They are making me live fully. They teach me to live in the moment, take delight in the simple pleasures. They challenge me, make me think, they stretch me and make me grow. And they make me laugh every single day.
For more spins on "everything that kills me makes me feel alive" visit Second Blooming.