This is what I’ve been telling my children all day. I woke up mean. The meanness was inspired by my daughter’s every-15-minute disruptions last night, between the hours of 9:30 and midnight. “Mommy, I have a tummy ache. Mommy, I need to be tucked in. Mommy, I want the light on. Mommy, I need some medicine. Mommy, I want you to sleep with me.” Worse were the moments when I was ripped from dreamland by Audrey’s raspy breath at my ear. She just came in to breathe and stare at me.
To be fair, her behavior was probably induced by the cold medicine I gave her at bedtime. Decongestant reacts with Audrey’s blood roughly in the same manner as a stimulating street drug might; such as, say, cocaine. Even though it wasn’t her fault, technically, I fell asleep so full of unexpressed rage that when morning came, I rose from bed with a great urge to kick the shit out of something.
On top of it I feel absolutely no creativity or interest toward my little wards today. I look at them and my mind offers nothing.
There must be something.
Is it too early for a drink? I thought, at nine a.m.
Later, an idea came. I will finally send out thank you cards for Christmas presents. Audrey can put stickers on the envelopes. Yes. Expressing gratitude is exactly the antidote for my foul disposition today. But the “Curious George” movie was on TV, and setting Audrey in front of it afforded me the opportunity to clean the entire house. For that time at least, I wasn’t growling at my daughter.
Here is the central problem of parenthood for me today: I’m in a crappy mood and I don’t have any patience for anyone’s nonsense. Yet my daughter is also in a crappy mood. She’s been in a crappy mood for about three months. She looks at me having difficulties and says, in so many words, “Like I care! Get my freakin’ juice.” Absent of motherly love, I perform my motherly duties with all the enthusiasm of a hungover 7-11 employee with irritated facial piercings.
There’s a great line in the book, “The Big Rumpus” that describes parenthood perfectly. It’s something like, “Being a parent is like getting off your job at Burger King just in time to start your shift at the coal mine.” When approached with the right attitude, such a life doesn’t necessarily have to be miserable, but there are days when I just want to be a three-year-old. When I want someone else to put up with my nonsense.
After the office lady at Jonah's school called to ask me sweetly if I had forgotten that today was an early dismissal, I pretty much gave up. I took the kids to Vios, set them loose in the play area, and ate a hummus plate I didn’t want. I kicked back with a weekly newspaper and read about all the upcoming shows I won’t be going to. It wasn’t exactly grace. And on the way home, Audrey threw a tantrum about some bullshit, and then she knocked Jonah over on the sidewalk.
There are two more hours until dinner and Audrey keeps trying to touch the keyboard.
Now is it too early for a drink?