I haven’t been sleeping well for many reasons, including but not limited to breast pain from complications due to my recent (benign) breast surgery. Last week, the surgeon “drained” my breast, which entailed removing fluid with a needle inserted into my breast while I got to watch the whole thing on ultrasound. It pretty much sucked, no pun intended. I was probably too exhausted to give proper legal consent to having the procedure done, and my breast hurt even worse afterward, but at least I can take it on an airplane now. Later I found out that the procedure with the needle would be the good part of my day. In addition to the morning breast procedure, the day was fraught with one thing after another, incidents which reared their ugly heads mostly from a comedy of errors and misdoings on my part; however, by the time I was to pick up Laura from school despite being exhausted I was happily anticipating a nice afternoon in her company. At least the weather was lovely that day.
Laura’s swim team has a brand new, fabulously beautiful pool, which opened for the first time that same day. It has oodles of nine-foot deep lanes, all sparkling and inviting. Laura has gills, dives from the waterfall ledge into the eight-foot deep end of our pool regularly, dives from a diving board into the nine-foot deep end of the pool at Bruin Woods every summer, has swam on numerous occasions in the ocean with sea turtles in Maui, and so it didn’t occur to me to even tell her that the new pool would be deep. In fact, her coach had even told me the week before that she was worried about how some of the kids would handle it, but knew that with Laura it was a non-issue. So on day one of the new pool’s opening, when the coach had the kids walk to the edge of the pool and check out the depth, Laura lost it. In fact, Laura was the only kid who lost it. Imagine my surprise, and then my “utter delight” when the 200 or so swimmers, parents, and coaches around the pool stopped to gawk at Laura losing it. After failed negotiation attempts on the parts of her coaches (never try to negotiate with a child who can out-negotiate a lawyer who negotiates multi-million dollar deals involving Fortune 500 companies’ technologies), I made her get in. I knew that once she got used to it, she’d be fine and would have a feeling of accomplishment. But she was truly freaked out at first, so I was very proud that she got herself somewhat together, at least enough so that she got in and swam her laps. (I must acknowledge that when I first glanced at the new pool, even I made a mental note to watch Laura’s every stroke, because if she went down I knew it would be a long way to the bottom, and if that happened I planned to get to Laura before her triathlete coach could.) As Laura swam past me where I sat deck side, she’d turn her little wet head, let out a sob, take a breath, put her head back in, and continue swimming down her lane. During one lap she went by me doing freestyle, and when her little arm came out of the water she gave a “thumbs down” sign before putting her arm back in to complete the stroke. When she got out of the pool, she advised me that I should ask for a refund of her swim team dues. The kid’s got pluck. The locker rooms aren’t ready yet, and so getting changed out of her swimsuit happened in the car. It was cramped to say the least, and the air in the backseat area was hot and filled with complaints.
Our ritual on that day of the week usually includes dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and then ballet class, which Laura loves. Our weekly CPK break is my chance to have a good salad that I didn’t have to make and a nice, cold, Diet IBC Root Beer. However, that night, CPK included sitting three tables away from an approximately four-year-old child who was in charge of her parents. The entire restaurant kept turning to stare as the parents exchanged withered looks while the child, dressed for a fashion show, alternated between activities such as climbing on the chairs, balancing herself on the back of a booth by holding onto the window blinds, sitting on the table top, and running through the restaurant, all the while screaming things like, “I’m not eating this food!” and “Don’t you dare touch me!” Folks, I’m not exaggerating. It was all I could do for the forty-five long and painful minutes that we were there to not go over and spank that mother, or swipe the large glass of wine that she was drinking. Instead I couldn’t even finish my yummy salad because it was worse than listening to nails on a chalkboard, and I rushed Laura through her pasta so we could get the heck out of there. Then it was off to the YMCA, where instead of exercising like I should, I usually sit and read for an hour while Laura dances. This hour of reading is usually a glorious and self-indulgent time for me (so would be an hour of exercise, but still). For some reason that night every child in San Diego was at the YMCA, running around and screaming, while their parents talked loudly on cell phones and ignored them. I think I read two pages. I was on my last nerve.
Laura and I headed home and we were both exhausted and on the verge of tears, each for our own good reasons. On top of being on my last nerve, my breast was killing me because I didn’t take the pain medication that was prescribed because I had to drive my minor child around and I wanted her to live through the afternoon (me, not so much at that point). I stopped at the mailbox for the three days’ worth of junk mail, two bills, and one party invitation that was crammed inside. Then I drove up to our house and noticed that Tom’s car was in the driveway and that all of our neighbors’ trash cans were out except for ours. Laura carried in her backpack and the “organic” baked Cheetos® that I let her get from the vending maching at the Y, while I lugged in the mail, her lunchbox, her swim bag, her wet towel and suit, and her dance bag. I was exhausted. I was in pain. I wasn’t thinking clearly and I knew it, but still I felt completely overwhelmed as I inventoried all that I had to do before I could relax that evening: Wash Agent Orange from Laura’s hands caused by Cheetos®, sort mail, clean out lunchbox, empty water bottles, unload swim bag, put wet items in laundry room, unload dance bag, bathe kid, get kid ready for bed, empty inside trash cans and recycle bin, get trash cans and recycling to curb, etc., etc., etc. I sat down on the bottom stair and started to cry. Tom said something to the effect of, “Why are you crying in front of Laura?” This caused me to have a reaction that resembled Linda Blair’s head spinning around 360° when Captain Howdy took over Regan’s body. Later, I asked Tom why he hadn’t taken out the trash in a sweet, loving, and Christian manner. (This is my blog, I’ll be in charge of the spin, thank you very much, Amen.) Tom said that he hadn’t realized it was trash day, he would have taken it out, and why hadn’t I just asked him. Whatever. After over fourteen years together, doesn’t he know by now that he’s supposed to read my mind? Besides, I have previously mentioned my knack for blurring the lines between motherhood and martyrdom, and if I’d asked him to take out the trash rather than doing it myself, I might have lost touch with my inner martyr and then what good would I be to my loved ones?
I eventually got myself together and went about my tasks. Tom bathed the kid and washed her hair, and when I walked into the bathroom, he glanced at me, probably wishing he’d worn chain maille into the tub, but I had calmed down by that point. I jumped into the shower to wash off the day and was contemplating the wording of the speech in which I planned to come off sounding like I’d apologized, but which in reality would be me cunningly offering up excuses for the aforementioned head spin. I’ve had years of therapy; I know how to work this. 😉 Then Laura started negotiating whether she could go to bed with wet hair. No, she could not, Tom told her. I leaned out of the shower and said that her hair would have to be blow dried. She reminded us of the time during the summer that we let her sleep with wet hair and a towel on her pillow. We told her that wasn’t going to happen, it was a school night, and would she please not act like that little girl at CPK. As I got out of the shower, Laura’s negotiation tactics were beginning to look like they might blossom into a 360° head spin, and one head spin per family per night is our limit. I looked Tom right in the eye.
Cheri: “You need to start believing in God.”
Cheri: “So you have someone to pray to.”
Cheri: “So you can pray that I stop getting my periods before Laura starts getting hers.”
And then we shared a laugh . . .
We dried the kid’s hair and got her into bed . . .
We opened a bottle of wine . . .
We gazed meaningfully into each other’s eyes . . .
We put our arms around each other . . .
And then we did that act that married people do after the kid is asleep . . .
We watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Season Two on DVD.