The ‘malaise & ennui’ category

To the parent who reminds me to “cherish this time”

December 31st, 2022

It’s blursday of winter “break” and I am — apropos! — about to break. There’s no one single reason, but the minor instances have reached topple status: The incessant fighting between my 7-year-old twins. One screams “I HATE YOU I HOPE YOU DIE!” When I act shocked, she says “But she is chewing so loud!”

Asking me to spell things over and over and over: “What came before T again?” The insistence that I learn the rules to new games before I’ve had coffee. The tiny little magnet beads. Everywhere. The crumbs I had to vacuum out of the couch instead of doing the ten minutes of yoga I had hoped to do.  The dog shit on my daughter’s boots when she tries to be helpful and scoop up the poop in the yard. The firewood bin is low again; the dog has to go out again; the laundry has to be turned over again; someone needs a snack again.

It’s dreary stick season outside, slick on the surface and barren everywhere above. We could rally to go somewhere, but that would mean getting over the hurdle of getting dressed and the requisite fights about whether socks and underwear are really necessary in late December in Southern Vermont or just a way for me to exert my authority (or lack thereof?) over my kids. The boots have poop on them and we’d need more snacks, more water, multiple trips to the car with armloads of winter gear and supplies. Plus, the fighting and frustration over the seatbelts, and the inevitable suggestion I dread most in the world: “Can we play 20 questions?”

No, we will be going nowhere today. I beg my kids to watch TV — anything, literally, I don’t care what it is or for how long. 

I get online to vent about the terrible terrible perils of winter “break.”

And there you are, to remind me that this, too, shall pass. You want to be helpful; you want me to have some perspective. You suggest that I…. Oh, I know exactly what you’re going to say… Here it comes… 

Cherish these moments, for they won’t last. 

Before I know it, my kids will be grown up and they won’t need me to make them snacks and clean up their messes and spell everything for them all the time. You will miss this, you promise me. 

Yes, I will surely miss them and desperately wish I could have these moments back. I will miss sitting on the toilet with at least two other people in the bathroom with me every time. I will miss the violent cuddling that makes me scream “OW!” multiple times a day when someone jumps on me and crushes a nipple or gouges out an eye. I will miss anxiously trying to interpret whether “My throat hurts” means absolutely nothing or you’re about to vomit, violently, and spike a fever. I will miss never ever being able to complete a thought inside my own head.

You think you are giving me hope, but between the lines I hear, “You should be more grateful,” or, as my husband says, to my face, with a slight smirk, “You wanted this, remember? You wanted kids.”

I did want kids. I still do. I love them savagely. I need my space from them. I miss them when they’re not around me — yes, I already miss them! And I desperately want to get away from them half the time. The lack of peace and tranquility in my house makes me feel crazy. When they go back to school a million and one days from now I will breathe a deep sigh of relief. Then I will instantly start to fret. Are they okay at school? Are they coming down with something? Will there be a school shooting? 

I will check my phone ringer to make sure it’s on, over and over. If school calls, I will answer on the very first ring.

You think you are giving me perspective, but what I’m hearing is “You think this part is hard? Wait until the next phase of parenting; it’s even harder.” This does not cheer me up!

In the meantime, it’s still winter “break.” They are fucking with the dog again. They are playing with their water toys on the floor, and there is water everywhere. It is 2pm and they are still wearing their pajamas and they have eaten their way through everything in the pantry and there is nothing left to do and I have no cherish to spare right now. I will rue this day later, you say without saying.

Now I am stressed, and I am also rueful. I am frustrated, and I am also sad. I am stuck in this moment that seems to last forever, but also hovering over it, hoping (at least, knowing I should hope) it never ends. 


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