(e)motion dismissed

Is it possible to control your emotions? Normally, I would say no. At least that’s my experience. On bad days I have next to no control over my emotions. I’m just a walking water balloon waiting for something to prick me so I can just gush all over the place. I try and try to hold it in but it never works. However… some people might think differently and this peaks my interest. If there is a way, sign me up!

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Dr. Laura (yes, I’m one of those talk radio listerner types) and a caller called in saying she was getting a divorce because she and her husband had a serious problem (of which I will not name, but let’s just say I identified with it). This problem was so bad, this woman’s kids told her they were sick of their mom and dad fighting and they (the kids) wanted them (their parents) to get a divorce. The kids felt they would be better off living in a broken home than with their parents who made their lives miserable. (Yikes.)

I’m not saying whatever problem I identify with is serious enough to get a divorce over but it does cause me a lot of grief AND Toby and I fight like cats and dogs over it. Of course Dr. Laura completely vetoed the divorce idea. She always does. But she didn’t have a solution for the woman’s problem. That kinda surprised me. It kinda bummed me out actually. If Dr. Laura can’t fix it then maybe it can’t be fixed. But she did tell the woman that she needed to hold it together and NOT show her emotions around her children. She said something along the lines of “mature adults need to control their emotions.” That kinda hit home with me. How do you do that? Is Dr. Laura not woman? Doesn’t even she lose it once in a while?

Does that mean all these years I’ve been an immature adult? Sure, I’ll agree to that. I’ve done a lot of growing up these past few years. A LOT. But I grew up in a family of women who couldn’t control their emotions. I thought it was the family curse. Something to do with hormones and pms and a hot Irish/German temper. At what point can I control it?

What really bothers me a that I use fighting words with Toby in front of the baby. I try not to desperately but it seems hopeless. Toby makes me soooooooo mad that I just flip out from time to time. I try and keep it in but I’m like a simmering volcano and next thing you know I’m yelling and stamping my foot, my eyes are bulging out of my head and I’m ready to toss him right out the window. If I had the strength, I probably would have. I’ve removed all contents of closets in rages before. I’m scary when I get mad. Nothing is sacred.

Minutes after I’ve lost all control, I’m wracked with guilt. It’s terrible. How could I be such a horrible mother? How can I nurture another human life when I’m turning her whole world upside down? I’m her number one care giver and I’m a scary monster with sharp teeth!!! I have so many memories of my own mother pulling stunts like this. (Please forgive me mom. You’re a good mom. I turned out okay, right? Or did I?) I remember the clenched stomach feeling, the wanting to run and hug my mom and make it all okay, the scared lonely horrible place I would feel until my she came back after a fifteen minute car ride to “cool down”. I remember asking my Dad what was wrong and seeing the hurt helpless feeling in his eyes…

So I cuddle my baby and tell her it’s okay. “See, Mommy and Daddy love each other. We fight but we still love each other. See I’m hugging Daddy!” Hug hug hug.

But is that enough? Toby says it is. He says it’s healthy for Baby Bug to see how problems arise and how we solve them. He also tells me that I need not dwell on it so much. That dwelling on this problem is half of the problem. Maybe he’s right. And maybe after this post I’ll never bring it up again. But I just wish that I could keep my cool. I want to break the cycle. I want to stop being scary.

When I was out in Hemet this last weekend, things were really taxed to the limit for me. My brother has moved back into my mom’s house and my mom’s poor little mobile home is busting at the seams to keep all his and my mom’s stuff inside it. Junk and clutter explode out the door and all over the lawn and driveway. I’m constantly overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do first to fix things. Everywhere I look there is squalor.

I consider the situation a “SOS challenge” and as a loving family member I need to do what I can to help out. I can’t help financially but I can give them my time. My sister-in-law is working full time, my mom is getting old (not really, but her health is not what it should be), my brother has debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome and my nieces… well my nieces love entropy! They grew up with it. The messier the better! So it’s just me, fighting off the clutter like a valiant warrior. It’s a full time job doing laundry, cooking and cleaning for a house full of people, not to mention trying to take care of a baby at the same time. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not trying to make myself into a hero. My mom does this day in and day out. I only visit a couple weekends a month.

But what I’m getting at is that I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world… working working working to make things better at my mom’s (which is really just an exercise in hopelessness) AND then my oldest niece (the constant talker) starts bugging me. EVERYTHING is a negotiation with her. I feel like all I do all day long is say “No.” No, we can’t go to the park. No, we can’t play fashion plates right now. No, we can’t make pancakes. I can’t even find the kitchen sink. No, you can’t hold the baby right now. Her head is like a cantaloupe. I don’t want to see the seeds squashed all over the cement. No. No. No. No! NO!!! PLEASE JUST STOP BUGGING ME!!!!! It makes me so sad when I turn into this, “NO” person. What happened to the fun Auntie who played with them and drew pictures and made forts out of cardboard boxes? I’m always on my mom’s case to be more positive around the kids. What kind of hypocrite am I?

My sister-in-law comforts me and tells me it’s okay to lose it with Rapunzel. Rapunzel is going through a stage and she needs to be admonished. She tells me it’s okay that I’m crying all the time. She tells me that I am a good aunt and mother. Rapunzel will remember the good times, not just the yelling. But it’s hard to believe my sister-in-law. Sometimes I just want to check out and not visit them anymore because I can’t hold it together. I’m scared because I know this is my future. Soon it will be Baby Bug who is pushing my buttons and I can’t just drive away from her. How can I teach her not to be like me? By not being like me. How do I do that?

Or maybe I should just take Toby’s advice and not dwell on it so much. Everybody loses it now and then. The important part is that you pick up and move on.

Birthday Schmirthday

I’m at that sour-pus old age where birthdays don’t seem so happy anymore. What’s the fun in turning thirty-four? (Anybody want to help me tweeze out a gray hair or twenty?) It’s not like it’s a big round number worth throwing a party over. And I’m too old for fussing and I’m too young be forgetting when my birthday is. I’m just at that right age to feel grumpy about it. Bah Humbug. Birthdays suck.

When I woke up this morning, on the wrong side of the bed, I was determined that today was just going to be one disappointment after another. Why wouldn’t it be? Every other birthday has been one sad story after another. I even eeked out a few tears feeling sorry for myself. Pathetic, I know.

I rolled myself out of bed, fed the baby, checked my email, threw out about twenty birthday spam emails…. and then I found a sweet e-card from whoorl. Okay, that was kind of nice. Maybe I unwrinkled one furrow from my brow and let my curled lip relax for a minute while I watched the cup cakes bounce around to the cheery music. Mmmmmm cupcakes.

By mid-morning there was a silly rhyming birthday song recorded into my voicemail. So maybe I cracked a smile. Maybe I do have a friend or two who love me. Then came some flowers and they were kind of sweet too. I even liked the arrangement and I’m picky about that sort of thing. Maybe it was the bright pink color that made me stand a little straighter and stopped my dragging feet from rubbing along the carpet so much.

By noon the house was hot and sweaty. Even the flowers couldn’t keep my royal bad mood from attacking with a vengeance so Toby sent me off to the mall to buy myself a new mouse for my laptop. Oooooh new stuff. Plus, the air conditioning in my new car is awesome. Kinda like a fresh breath from Alaska. Sometimes that makes me forget to be grumpy. That and the birthday iced mocha I bought for myself. Chocolate is yummy.

When I got to the mac store I spied a wacom tablet. Maybe a wacom tablet would be a nice birthday present. I called home to make sure. “Of course!” said Toby. “It’s your birthday!” Even though we both know that I can easily write off a wacom tablet as a business expense, I’ve just never gotten around to buying one. It makes me feel better to get his blessing.

While standing in the check out line I started to dream of all the illustrations I could make with my new wacom tablet and maybe I cracked my crooked half smile just a tiny bit bigger. Just a smidge. But still birthdays are dumb.

Then I got home and it was baby this and baby that. No time for installing any new fun computer gadgets. So it sat and taunted me. Birthday Schmirthday. I still have to change diapers and clean pureed butternut squash off the bottom of the high chair tray. Don’t be so cute when you smile at me Baby Bug. Mommy is grumpy today. Grump Grump Grump.

But then my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came over and my mother-in-law made me a cake. A cake! She didn’t have an icing tip so the letters on the cake are thick and drippy. Sort of like what it would be like if you iced it with toothpaste. But it was chocolate and homemade and if I didn’t think that was sweet then I must have a heart of cement. And then there were presents and Baby Bug was an absolute angel baby.

Okay, you win. I did have a happy birthday.

But I’m still thirty-four and I have gray hair. harumph!