Monday, October 23, 2006

Push It

Myk likes to remind me sometimes that I am a big, walking red button just begging to be pushed, like the "Easy" button in the Staples ads. This is in reference to the fact that I'm ultra-sensitive and high strung and completely incapable of keeping my emotions, however fleeting, off my face. I hate this. Not only does it mean that I'm never going to beat Jennifer Tilly in a world poker tournament, it also means that, on the days when I least want to talk or explain myself or otherwise engage, I get people asking me what's wrong. And somehow, it's always the people who refuse to accept "ah, nothin'," as an answer, and keep prodding until I spill some beans and talk it out a little and invariably feel a wee bit better. God, I hate that too. Sometimes a girl just wants to wallow, y'know?

So, there's that element of my red-button self. But then there's also the other part, the high-strung, jumpy, nervous wreck part. As a passenger in a car, I've gasped and ducked when the wind whipped a stray leaf across the windshield. I sometimes gasp because I think I see some weird shadow in my peripheral vision. One would think that perhaps having one child, and then another, would cure a person of this sort of hair-trigger jumpiness. And yet.

On days like today, when it seems like the children have decided to pitch a tent and camp out on my Big Red Button of a psyche, I really start to wonder if maybe I shouldn't go running for the shelter of a mother's little helper and start poppin' those Valiums and seeking out my happy place. Then I decide instead that it's a perfectly natural response for any adult, especially any sensitive, intuitive, in-tune-with-the-emotional-barometer-of-the-room adult to get a little tense, and a teeny bit brittle in the face of a 22-month old screaming in displeasure and rage that no, he cannot have juice! juice! juice! or truck! truck! truck! right this very instant, at an average of eight times an hour. Never mind the four-year-old, matching her brother blow-by-blow in the Demand and Complain Loudly department.

The problem with writing about those moments is that they're so bloodless on the page, rather than bloodcurdling, as they are in real life. Which leaves me, whining and complaining much in the fashion of the younger citizens of the house. I don't want to be the kind of mother who frightens her children by hiding in the furthest corner of the deepest closet, but I so wanted to go there today. It would have been dark, and cool, and quiet, and maybe I could've taken a deep breath without hearing the terrible screams and shrieks that, any evening now, are going to make the neighbors call Animal Control on us. Is your house this loud at 6:30 every evening? Because from my perspective, I of the big red button sensitivity, it sounds like an insane asylum, like the one in The Snake Pit with Olivia de Haviland. Like there should be arms reaching desperately out the barred windows, and grim-faced men hurrying down the corridors with straight-jackets at the ready. And a humorless nurse, like at the end of Streetcar, who will examine my fingernails and declare, "these will have to be trimmed."
Accuse me of exaggeration, but I swear, that's exactly what our house sounds and feels like most nights after dinner.

Not every night, thank goodness. Some nights, Lily will go up to her room and play or read, and Tucker will happily work on making those grooves in my coffee table ever deeper, as he pushes his beloved trucks around and around, muttering away to himself. But we're not talking about those nights, those nights that make me feel so smug and blessed and blah blah blah. We're talking about tonight, and how mommy was standing at the open front door letting all the mosquitoes into the house while she anxiously looked up the street, waiting for those men in the white coats to come and take her away, because at this point, she could really use the change of scenery.


Blogger Domestic Chicky said...

At least a couple of times a week. Totally normal I believe, and nothing a little valium/wine/bubblebath/facial/full night's sleep couldn't cure...

4:16 PM  

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