At a certain point in the day, I am over watching tv. Especially on days I’ve clocked in a four-hour-plus baseball game. Sometimes I’m over reading, too. When these moments happen, I just want to call it a day. Even if I’m not truly tired I’d prefer to have dark and quiet. Mad Dog isn’t always in agreement, but part of marriage is compromise.
“Are you planning on reading?” said Mad Dog as he finished up brushing his teeth.
“Nope. But I did think we could talk about our feelings,” I said.
There are two important characteristics to look for in friendship. The first being pool ownership. The second, and most critical, is this friend allows you full use of their pool if they have to travel.
Let’s just say, I have some of the best friends in all of Texas.
The key to surviving any competitive endeavor in this family whether pool related or not, is to make sure Mad Dog is always on your team. He is a natural-born strategist and the king of trash talk. However, the boys having learned from the best, are now able to verbally spar on his level.
It’s a whole lot of nonsense if you ask me, but apparently the secret ‘man-formula’ to showing respect is hurling insults at one another at a top-rate speed. Full Speed especially enjoys targeting me. If you were a betting kind of person, you might guess it’s because I am the most reactive of our bunch. I can’t speak to this specifically but I am crying right now as I type this.
Pool volleyball is no exception. Mad Dog and I happened to win our first round of games versus the boys. We had to work for it. As we sat around poolside dissecting various aspects of the game, T.Puzzle remained surprisingly unfazed by the loss. Normally, he would brood and mope leaving the whole outing in ruins because he did not win.
“That means you are growing up, when you can lose and still say you are had a fun day at the pool,” Mad Dog said.
We are more adaptable than we realize. We have settled into new routines and found sparks of hope in unexpected places. T.Puzzle’s new mantra is “less school, more video games!” Silver linings are there for the taking.
Everyone has unique strengths during times of stress. While my strength lies in cultivating family bonds, I may also freak out a little more than the rest of my clan. Thankfully, I am married to a man who never freaks out. It actually kind of freaks me out that he is so calm ALL THE TIME. At this point, I am not going to change who I am, but I am forever grateful I feel safe enough to fully be myself and know without doubt, I am loved just as I am.
When this whole pandemic began to impact our lives, to help preserve my sanity, I took a major pause from social media. I simply cannot hold that many stories in my head and function well. It may appear that I am less connected to what matters, but I have found the opposite to be true. I am remembering the beauty of my own backyard.
My imagination runs wild so I have to be mindful of the T.V. shows I watch. Otherwise my sleep will be disrupted and general mind mayhem will ensue. This leaves me with limited options. I have been reduced to watching lots of reality T.V. This is fine in small doses, but recently I have noticed my propensity to want to walk around in thong bikinis, toss martinis about and speak incoherently in a British accent. Weirdly, Mad Dog has little to no objections concerning my altered behaviors. I am in no danger of being voted off the island.
In these strange, lock-down days, I have been attempting to engage my boys in meaningful dinner conversations.
It hasn’t been a good run lately.
T.Puzzle is the worst offender. You could ask him about it, but I promise you, he won’t answer you. And if he did, you wouldn’t gain any new information.
I have even tried to speak to them as adults.
This was my attempt last night:
“Please take this question seriously. I am genuinely curious as to what your answers are. What are your thoughts about what you may want to do as an occupation? I want you to dream big.”
Full Speed said, “Contact tracer.”
I just gave him that look. You know, the mom one where you telepathically communicate your inner most thoughts of frustration and/or annoyance.
“How are you going to be a contact tracer? By the time you are graduated from college, I don’t think it will be viable option. At least I hope not.”
“I could do it over the summer. They pay $25 an hour,” he said.
“But you are only fifteen!”
“Once they got to know me, they would make an exception. I’m that good.”
As you can see, my first attempt at realness failed.
I turned to T.Puzzle. After a few moments of him looking completely bewildered and/or uninterested, he said he wanted to work for Space Force.
He wasn’t being serious either. They were both chuckling and finding themselves to be utterly amusing.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. I had reached my limit.
I lifted my right arm, pointed to the stairs and ordered them to go to their room.
Protests abounded but I kept my composure and sent them on their way.
Here’s a little trick that I am happy to share with you. In these situations, never give them a time limit. Send them on their way but leave their return time open and ambiguous. This can make thirty minutes feel like thirty years. Also, in the name of brotherly unity, I thought it was good to send them together so they could bond over how impossible I was being. There is nothing that solidifies a sibling connection more than having a shared common ‘enemy’.
Mad Dog and I proceeded to clean the kitchen post-dinner at our leisure. We then went on a walk and spent some time hanging out on our back porch.
I was in no hurry to set the jailbirds free.
I asked Mad Dog if I was attempting the impossible by prompting the boys into thoughtful discussions. Am I only hurting myself? But, they are the people I encounter the most so maybe I should keep going?
He said it’s good for them so keep trying. It wouldn’t hurt to lower my expectations either.
I’m not sure exactly why my family still allows me to wield a knife.
To give some context, a few weeks prior to quarantine I decided to begin a meal kit delivery service. Lucky for us, we now have a few meals a week planned and delivered, but the dark side of this is, well, …me.
It all started innocently enough. Sure! I thought. Why not have the boys alternate nights and ‘help’ me. Our first forays into the realm of kitchen adventure were tense. I barked orders and became increasingly exasperated by each and every OBVIOUS question.
Case in point:
Full Speed (asking this while I have burners going and the oven already ablaze): “Where are the paper towels?”
You mean the paper towels that are two feet away from you sitting in the very spot they have sat for NEARLY TWO YEARS? You mean those paper towels?
“Full Speed, could you grab the pulled pork from the fridge? It’s on the third shelf from the top.”
An inordinate amount of time passed, even though I am busy with twenty other things, I pause because I didn’t ask him to go to Timbuktu to get it. Our kitchen ain’t big folks! I look up to see him squatting down absently perusing the bottom draws of our refrigerator.
“Um, Full Speed. Those are DRAWERS, I said SHELF.”
Thinking this solved the issue, I went back to work. And, still, no pulled pork arrived.
With painstaking effort to not lose my cool, I glanced up AGAIN. This time I found him looking at the inside door catchalls that hold condiments and drinks and the like but NOT THE PULLED PORK.
I said this while thrusting my finger at the pulled pork like an accusation.
The whole scenario, while only lasting a minute or two, left me feeling drained.
Fortunately, for all involved, I had finished the chopping portion of our meal prep so the knife was already put away, but other times, I won’t say the danger was imminent, but there were some dangerous moments (at least in my mind).
It’s a harrowing existence as the lone emotional being in a house of super laid-back men. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but I definitely am the most shall we say ‘expressive’ of our family. Most of my outbursts and/or meltdowns are due to the stress of our current situation. Contrary to popular opinion, I am falling within a normal category of cooped-up-and-about-to-lose-it behaviors. My favorite is when Full Speed then imitates my meltdown.
“I’m Mom and I’m mad for no apparent reason. Stop looking at me. Stop taking up space. Stop existing. Just. Stop.”
He does this while flailing his arms about while shouting hysterically.
He’s not wrong.
I commend you if you have yet to lose it. Please tell me how you have managed this feat.
And, if you have lost it, know you are not alone. Just dust yourself off and get on with your day.
I trust you know the difference between a drawer and a shelf so obviously you are already crushing your day.