Oh man, y'all. I am struggling. My body is a million silent screams pleading for quiet. Begging for the questions and demands and narration and bicker to just stop. We have been blessed, this holiday, with the most glorious weather. With family and friends, good food and movie-watching, laughter and a Christmas tree.
The omnipresent "but." That lurker extraordinaire. That nugget of grim reality in even the shiniest of lives. That weighty ball that just can't always be kicked to the curb.
This is hard, this parenting thing. On Thanksgiving, as several members of my extended family leaned across a kitchen counter, and we talked about a cousin's new baby, I recounted a story from Jack's early months.
One night, he must have been four or five months old, Tom and I had gotten him to sleep and were downstairs relaxing. Tom said, "Honey, wanna walk to Ben & Jerry's and get some ice cream?" And I thought the following:
Clearly, he is not cut out for fatherhood because we have a baby sleeping upstairs.
What once welcomed spontaneity now required a babysitter or at least the daylight hours other than the work and nap ones, of course. And such has so often been the case for the nine years since.
Mostly, this is swell. It's not like we ever said, "We'll have kids and nothing will change." Because that's malarkey, plain and simple. And neither of us are delusional. And we happen to like our children.
But sometimes, after you give and give and wipe and feed and listen and bandage and read and bathe, you just really want everyone and everything to shut the eff up. For real. Total quiet. Like you all took a vow of silence and meant it.
Sadly, thinking that's possible is too often the damn delusion.
Because you probably have not only children but also a goddamn dog. Who is as needy as any child ever was.
Said dog is aging and getting mouthy in his years. Barks are for everything now, not just the mail carrier and others who approach your front door. No. Barks for cartoon dogs, real dogs, animals on TV who resemble dogs, animals on TV who do not appear to resemble dogs, hunger (real or imagined), the times you don't get to the porch door before dog's first bark has finished reverberating (you slow, slothlike, shitty dog owner!). Dog is never too tired to bark. No sir. Never. And if you put him downstairs, he will pee on your couch with pissy abandon.
These are reasons #902 and 903 that Percy is our first and last dog. And why I do not recommend having both dogs and kids. Unless you hate silence and never want it in your midst.
Sometimes I think, If I can't beat 'em, I might as well join them. So I'll turn on the music for a dance party -loud enough to drown Percy's inevitable barking because he hates things like other people dancing and hugging which tend to happen when music is played- and not four minutes later I'm panting and exhausted because people, please. I have been up since 6am and haven't sat or stopped doing since then. I don't feel like dancing. Don't feel like noise. And Percy becomes downright certifiable.
Is it any surprise that I find such comfort in my cat? My sweet purring independent kitty who is quiet 98% of the time and tends to put his bum in Percy's face. That guy is my dream come true. He is no nonsense to the max. He just wants a morning snuggle (awesome), some food (understandable), and plenty of time to prowl the alley (whatever).
It is not any surprise to me.
And so, as this "vacation" comes to a close, I wait for Monday, as I so often do, with unbridled joy and anticipation.
I will release my screams into the vacuum of an empty home and then I'll sit in front of my sparkling Christmas tree and think about Oliver saying "Oh man, this tree makes me so happy!" and smile over his happy outlook on life.
I'll look at the Periodic Table ornament Jack painstakingly crafted from so many individual Perler beads and appreciate his dexterity and curiosity.
I will brush the cat and walk the dog and distribute the folded laundry and make muffins to refill the freezer store.
The stereo will remain quiet. Natural lighting will suffice. And I will join myself in peace and replenish as best I can.