It’s Monday or Tuesday or Friday morning, and we are fighting about the weather again. I am using harsh words – way harsher than necessary – as I argue with my husband who has just declared that it’s too warm for our five-year-old to wear long sleeves. I am mad, a bull pacing back and forth as I face the taunting red cape ahead.
Then, my son enters with striped socks pulled up to his knobby knees. Damn, that’s cute, I think to myself. Until he blurts out something like, “See Mommy. Daddy says I can wear shorts. I don’t have to listen to you.” This moment might be the proudest of his life, and one of my….let’s just say… least favorites.
I know somewhere in the back of my brain that none of this matters, that it’s going to hurt very little if he is slightly cold at school or that he has to wear a jacket. I even know there’s a good chance that wearing shorts is just fine; it’s nearing May. But I don’t care. I just see the red cape flying. I am the responsible adult in the house, right? The one obsessed with The Weather Channel. The one who knows the precise direction of the wind and which clothing items are necessary or not at any given hour. The one who checks the locks three times before going to bed. (I am responsible, dear reader! Not crazy.)
So maybe I am a bit overboard. Maybe I am a tad bit of a control freak. But the brain cells that know that in these before-school-day moments are far back in the outfield. They are squinting at the ball, convinced the tiny dot coming at my face must be a meteor shower.
I can tell this battle is lost, so I look for a new victory. “Have you brushed your teeth yet?,” I volley across the court. (Oh yeah, oh yeah.) My son is already feeling like the champion, though, so he says he ain’t brushing nothing. “You need to brush teeth.”
Stillness. Silence. If this were a western, there’d be whistling and tumble weeds bouncing across the dusty road between us.
(This is where things can go one of two ways. I can be calm, or I can do this instead.) “Go brush your teeth!,” I scream. He yells back, slamming my bedroom door behind him.
My husband is out of the shower now and wondering what the hell is going on. I don’t know, I think to myself. I am losing it. I am the mad hatter of mothers. “I am just………. frustrated,” I say as my voice descends into the deep cave of defeat.
About now, I realize my hands have been frantically swiping left and right across my iPhone, a habitual, unconscious reaction. When did I even pick up the phone?
And I am waking up dizzy from sleep again. Looking up at the cathedral ceiling. Or at least this is where my brain goes. You see, about now I wish I could just side swipe to the right and begin again. In some parallel universe that must be possible. Maybe the twin I imagine on some foreign planet has already done so and is currently swinging in a hammock with her child and spouse, laughing in the sunshine.
The threads are raveling themselves again. I am counting backwards from ten. Climbing the imaginary summit to the peak of Motherhood Zen.
Peaking into to Asher’s bathroom, I see he is brushing his own teeth. “I am sorry Pooh Bear” I say, wrapping my arms around his little neck and his tall but tiny shoulders.
“It’s OK, Mommy.”