Portrait of a Parent on a Late Summer Sunday

I’m talking too quickly in my rush to get the angry words out. My finger is jabbing the air toward him, emphasizing my words at random as they come tumbling out of my mouth. I want him to feel shitty for begging for more TV than he has earned, for needing to be prompted to do literally anything. Put on day clothes. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair. In my head: the same things you do every goddamn morning. Why do I have to tell you these things still?

I wake up at 3am because the dog was whining and yipping from his crate in the basement, and I take him outside thinking he was going to have an accident. When we get back (one unrushed pee later, thanks, DOG), Ross is snoring like a diesel engine has taken up residence in his sinus so I opt for the couch and the cat takes up residence atop me like the Princess and the Goddamned Pea. It takes almost two full hours to get back to sleep, and right after I do, Ross lovingly wakes me when he gets up for his early morning bike ride to suggest I go back to bed. I am furious that he woke me up to tell me where to sleep, the sleep that was so goddamned hard won, but I stomp off to the bedroom, the cat hot on my tail lest he not be near me for a few milliseconds. I sleep for maybe an hour more. I wake up feeling awful.

I have no patience today, and I know this, and I try to check my behaviour. I have not had enough tea though I am not sure there can ever be enough. I am so tired of being smothered.

It is grey, and a bit chillier than it has been in weeks and it feels so nice on my skin, to finally not be hot. “Sure, you can watch a show,” I say. Please just go away, I think, and stop needing me.

I scroll social media endlessly, refreshing over and over, hoping that someone says something to validate this terrible mood, this grey cloud I am carrying around with me. A friend shares a mom think piece. I read it—twice—and I feel blank but I give her post the thumbs up anyway.

It feels like too much work to take some Advil and so instead I suffer with a low grade headache. I’m not sure if it is from the wine last night or from sleeping on the couch. I half feel like maybe I deserve this headache for thinking less than loving thought about my kid.

A friend texts, checks in with how my week has been. I complain mildly about being “kidded out” but add a winky face so she knows we are just co-conspirators in this mom cycle of pout-shout-repeat, and not that I’m actually feeling terrible about everything today. See also: rose-coloured glasses. Someone once told me I paint an overly rosy picture of my “perfect” life, and I denied it then and insisted I just preferred to be positive but what do I know, maybe I do want the world to think I have it all together. I feel like no one really understands me.

I decide to go grocery shopping and that’s when it falls apart, when he gives me a pouty face when I tell him to turn off the TV and put on his shoes, and I say “You have no idea how spoiled you are,” as I jab my fingers into the air to punctuate my point. He is near tears and I keep going, because I want to push him over the edge and I want him to cry. Maybe we should cry together.

“Do you know how hard I work to make your life as easy as it is? You have no idea. And if I see this pouty face you will lose all of your privileges.”

I don’t know why I’m so mad. I’ve been chasing him out of my sight all morning pushing him to his beloved books and devices, so why am I surprised he has trouble switching gears?

I idly wonder if the headache is a precursor to a cold. I think I am getting sick, and I start calculating how I will manage this on top of all my other things that need to be managed. Who gets sick in the summer? I don’t remember the last time I was sick because I feel like my health is holding our house together.

I make a grocery list. He is scarce, after having been shouted at. I wonder if this will be the voice he remembers from his childhood, the one who yelled at him. Or if he will remember a different voice. Do I have a different voice besides shouty? Good god, I hope so.

We go out and buy groceries. My mood softens when we are outside in the cool air. I feel raindrops. I apologize to him for losing my temper. He brushes it off, but we both visibly feel better. His hand snakes into mine and he adjusts our fingers to my special way of hand-holding and he looks up and smiles at me.

I don’t feel blank anymore.

5 years ago