Several hours ago, my lower back started to clench. Shortly after, my shoulders joined the game and seized up, angry fists pulling my neck down and into my chest. Nausea seeped in like a rushing Katrina tide, and a throbbing, electric-shock pain anchored onto my cranium like a bitchy vise. I hurried to get the kids to bed -please.just.stop. already- so that I could take a hot bath. I deserved it and I needed it. Undressed and eager, I stepped into the tub to find that only cold water remained. That disappointment pretty much sums up my afternoon (as well as motherhood-induced anxiety on the worst of days). Defeated, I donned some flannel PJs and poured myself a glass of wine. Tom is again going to be late. We see so little of him these days, and it wears on us. Nights like these, when I'm so wiped that I feel crazy, I don't know if his absence is a good or bad thing. I mean, it's no good for the kids, but if one more person asked me to look at or respond to something or make a fucking decision -what's for dinner? when? why? how?- I might crack.
As well, most people, T included after some long days, don't want to hear about the true dregs of life, and when he's gone, I can let out any sadness and frustration and anger slowly, as if I'm a delicate hourglass whose neck is so narrow that the sands pass through almost unnoticeably. Minute by minute, my upset lessens. My shoulders consider release, the nausea abates ever so slightly, the burning foam of anger sudsing on the interior of my skull begins to dissipate. I am NOT delicate, for fuck's sake, but my neck is narrow, so there you have it.
One of my best coping strategies on craptastic days like these is to reach out to and thank someone I appreciate or admire. A few weeks back, I wrote a fan letter. Seriously, I did this. Did y'all read Ellen Urbani's Modern Love essay in the SNYT? I thought it was spectacular and decided I would write her to say so. Did I expect to hear back? No. My reason for writing was simply to applaud her work and let her know that it resonated with me.
She did write back, so thoughtfully so and twice, and while both responses were beyond lovely, it was really just the gesture of appreciative outreach that I found healing. Had she never replied, I still would have felt good. The rest was two cherries on top.
I did the same thing today, a note of admiration to a woman I met once but have corresponded with frequently. She speaks her truth and her beliefs with such equanimity and strength. Whenever she posts something "brave," I love to read the commentary following because my faith in educated, reasoned, supportive dialogue is renewed.
As an aside, interacting with people like Ellen and Elan -funny how similar their names are- is what I love most about the internet, about blogging, about social media and the relationships forged through it all.
But to keep this focused (not always my strong suit), I find so much of parenting so very hard. I envy those who don't. I'm not a covetous person, but I covet, in the truest, most Biblical sense of that word, those women who just get on by most days, easily and happily and any other fucking adverb you want to tack on to that list. Those women whose shoulders never seem to clench and who never want to escape their kids. Those women for whom auto-correct and low-quality Scotch tape and idiotic CVS employees aren't the last straw.
I feel certain that I am not alone in this, and yet I'm repeatedly struck by how alone I often feel.