Yes, that’s a deliberately provocative title. Don’t worry, all is good.
Superbowl Sunday, we were watching the game with Maura (who cheered for everyone, of course). I was exhausted, moody, and had PMS. My husband had been working a LOT in the beginning of the year, which meant I became Maura’s full time caregiver.
See, I’m her mom, but I’m also her caregiver. So, like two full-time roles for this one person. I do all the mom stuff like making sure she gets on the bus for school in appropriate clothing, but also helping her with dressing herself. Do you have a three year old? Are you familiar with how they are, wanting to be independent but unable to put the correct shoes on their feet or make good food choices? That’s what life with Maura is like. Only she’s my height, and has tween moods as well, and is one of the offspring I throw deodorant at (it’s like Mardi Gras here, only instead of beads, I throw deodorant sticks at everyone.)
So after weeks of being Maura’s full time everything, we were trying to settle back into everyday routines, and I just wanted to watch the freaking Superbowl. I’m not huge into football, but I enjoy the Superbowl. And we were having a great time. The halftime show came on, and Maura really dug Coldplay. Beyonce and Bruno came out and she really started to get into things. Josh ran out to get a new tank of gas for the grill so we could grill burgers. Maura and I were perfectly happy and enjoying ourselves and music.
And then, our connection lagged.
Then the show was dropped.
There was a scramble for the remote. “Hold on, I’ll get it back.” I said.
Maura grabbed another Xbox controller and there we were, both pressing buttons, neither getting what we wanted out of it. “Just let me do it Maura.” I said, reaching over and grabbing the batteries out of her controller (the one she’s thrown multiple times and so the battery cover is deceased, making the batteries easy to grab.)
Maura did not like me taking control of her controller, so threw it at me while doing a great impression of a banshee. I deflected it with a hand. It hurt. I yelled at her to go to her room and calm down. She ran to her room and slammed the door in all her tween glory. And then, after having stuff thrown at me all weekend, dealing with all the moods she can’t explain rightly, after having one of the teens say “Wow, you know, she doesn’t do this when Dad’s around.”, as my hand throbbed where it was hit by the Xbox controller, I lost my shit.
I threw the remote in my hand across the room and yelled “SEE? I can throw things too!” I then threw the batteries across the room as well. That’s when I noticed my son Sean standing there, out of the way. A witness to my meltdown. (No teens or dogs were harmed in my shitfit.) I decided to make a quick exit and ended up in my bathroom, trying not to sob hysterically.
And that’s where Josh found me when he got home. Sean probably let him know that I had a meltdown because of Maura. It’s not the first time this has happened, but I still don’t like it when it happens.
See, I spend so much energy not taking things personally. I know Maura doesn’t mean to hurt me. She’s not deliberately trying to hurt me, she’s just trying to express her frustrations and can’t. Puberty is hard for any kid. Puberty when you can’t express yourself? I can’t even imagine. I also get that I’m Mom, I’m the safe place where she can be awful and know I will always still love her no matter what she throws at me, literally.
But even in knowing all that, I can only take so much.
So, I cracked. And once that crack happened, everything began to shatter.
Luckily, I have a spouse who’s ready to help pick up the pieces. Once I felt able to leave the bathroom, I came out to find him on his computer. “Here, pick one.” he said, showing me three different AirB&B places that were local, where I could stay. “You need a break. Do you want to leave tomorrow, or go for the weekend?”
Yes, my husband was kicking me out of our house, for all the right reasons. And yet, still, it took me a good hour to commit. Because I have anxiety, and anxiety doesn’t always make sense, and being exhausted and having PMS makes my anxiety even less sensible.
But I finally chose a place. A tiny house. Seriously, one of those tiny houses? Yeah, I chose that one. I’m fascinated by tiny houses, and it seemed like it would be easy to manage. Basically, I went to the other side of town and did my best impression of a hermit for three days, reading books, listening to classical music, and napping. I did pretty much nothing for three days except be quiet and calm. I only went out once, to grab some coffee the first morning. Otherwise, I just stayed put, in the 200 square feet of peace.
It was exactly what I needed.
Maura kept noticing I was gone, but by Sunday, she wasn’t satisfied with “Mom will be back later” and took to wandering the house going “Mom? Where Mom?” and then pretend calling me on her iPhone. So Josh called me, so Maura could be reassured that I hadn’t, in fact, fallen off the planet. The pure joy of her voice, so excited to hear mine, made me grin and gave me warm fuzzies. When I did pull up to the house a few hours later, she heard the car, came to the window, and saw me – then ran to the door to greet me, open arms, squealing with joy. And I was grinning to see her, happy to be home.
And even though the next day, she was back to throwing something when I said no, it didn’t phase me.
This morning, we’ve done a rousing sing-a-long to “Let it Go” – with all the motions. Because why not? Because sometimes, you have to let it all go, let yourself go, so you can appreciate coming back.