Losing It

September 4th, 2012 Posted by Susan's Musings 5 comments

My husband brought me two dozen miniature yellow roses this
past Friday. I did not deserve them. I spent the day on the verge of hysteria, alternating
between muttering and shrieking as I prepared our Shabbat meals. Things were so
bad that one of our expected guests, dropping off a bottle of wine in advance,
left it on the doorstep, positive that he was hearing a knockout, drag down
fight between one of my daughters and me. Not quite. None of our daughters was
home this week and I was the only human in the house when he came.

What he actually heard, was me, yelling at a swarm of teensy
flies that were circling my kitchen. These micro-bombers started invading
Thursday. At that point, I cleaned the counters making sure there were no
inviting fruit or sweets lying around, and opened the door to give the flies a
point of egress. As a further precaution, my husband hung a few strips of
flypaper around the kitchen, confident that would end the assault.

Having minor oral surgery Thursday afternoon, I went straight
upstairs when I got home, anticipating a full day of cooking on Friday for our
table of ten Shabbat lunch guests.  This
meant that I didn’t see the pests in their full glory until Friday morning. The
effectiveness of the flypaper seemed to have led the flies to call in
reinforcements and it was clear that they intended to share my kitchen through
the day. Though my husband insisted that I was attributing more power to the
insects than they possessed, as the day went on, I was increasingly convinced
that they were malevolently smirking at me.

By mid-afternoon, after obsessively covering each and every
bowl, pot and utensil I used and hovering over my food like a helicopter mom guarding
her toddler on the playground, I had had it. The final straw was when not once,
but twice, I walked into strands of flypaper, which proceeded to cling to me in
octopus-like fashion.

In between cries of misery, I lectured myself. I told myself
how fortunate I am that my husband and I, children and grandchildren, are
healthy. I reminded me what a blessed life I live if a fly infestation is a
major crisis. I conjured up images of pioneer women watching hordes of locusts
devour their year’s crop. To no avail.  I
continued falling apart.

I had the luxury of losing it for one reason only. My
closest child was a few hundred miles away. Had any of them been in the house,
I would have had to SET AN EXAMPLE. When our sailboat almost suffered a
knockdown in a storm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I clutched three
life-vested girls and sang songs with them. My children think that blackouts
are major fun activities, providing serendipitous occasions for ice cream
parties around a fireplace. Six children with chickenpox prompted ‘Camp Mommy’
complete with arts and crafts activities and canteen time. That is what mothers
do. We overcome our own natures to make our children feel safe, secure and
happy.

I don’t want to suggest that I always coped with a pleasant and
calm demeanor when the children were around. I remember being so exhausted with
a newborn in the house that I didn’t know how I would make it through another
hour. There were times I was afraid to open my mouth, unsure what would come
out, and those times that, unfortunately, I did open it anyway. There were,
regretfully, times I completely lost it. In general, though, I was wrong to
expect that it would be easier to cook without seven pairs of hands wanting to
knead the dough and stir the soup or to run to the market without lots of ‘helpers’.
When all is said and done, being forced to be mature, competent and cheerful knowing
that every move I made was being avidly tracked, made life a lot more fun.

 

 

5 comments

Menorahnorth says:

There’s something satisfying about being able to “lose it,” too; screaming in frustration and talking to oneself have their own merits for coping. However, I went “awwww” at the end of your post, Susan, because the REAL message it conveys is how much you miss having your children around, and with that, every mother sympathizes and agrees.
Anyone who hosts a Shabbat meal for 10 after oral surgery AND a fly infestation gets as many kudos as a mom who sublimates her panic in order to keep her children calm. And you’ve done it all.

Yaffa Kaplan says:

B”H
IT IS SO TRUE ABOUT HOW THE CHILDREN LEARN FROM THEIR PARENTS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS OR LIFE’S UPS AND DOWNS CHALLENGES. SO MANY TIMES I NATURALLY AND AUTOMATICALLY REMEMBERED HOW MY PARENTS DEALT WITH US ,MY BROTHERS AND I WHEN WE WHERE ARGUING OR WRESTLING TO SEE WHO’S THE STRONGEST THAT ENDED UP BY US BRAKING SOME OF THE HOUSE FURNITURE OR OTHER SUCH SITUATIONS, SO WHEN I BECAME A MOTHER B’H, I SEE MY CHARACTER IN MY KIDS, HOW THEY DEAL WITH STRESS OR DAY TO DAY LIFE’S CHALLENGES. I DIDN’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT LITTLE KIDS WHEN I BECAME A MOTHER, BUT WHEN I REMEMBERED TIMES WHEN I DIDN’T LIKE HOW I WAS DEALT WITH AS A CHILD ON SOME OCCASIONS I LEARNED FROM OTHER PEOPLE ,BOOKS PARENTING MAGAZINES, RABBIS TEACHINGS ON WHICH IS THE BEST WAY TO RAISE CHILDREN THAT WILL GROW TO BE THE BEST THEY CAN BE. I’V LEARNED THAT HAVING A GOOD ROLL MODEL IS A VERY IMPORTANT KEY IN ANY PERSONS LIFE. IT LOOKS TO ME THAT YOU ALWAYS TRIED TO BE THE BEST ONE FOR YOURS. FROM THE SHORT TIME THAT I’VE SPENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN I CAN SEE IN EACH ONE HOW GREAT THEIR CHARACTER IS AND HOW LUCKY THEY ARE TO HAVE SUCH A PERSON BEING THEIR BEST ROLL MODEL AND A MOM!!! YASHER KOACH AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!

Ann Musico says:

I only had 3 but I can so relate to your wonderful post! So real and honest – I’ve had the very same experience with flies and with birds bombarding our front door (still haven’t figured that one out!) and with squirrels eating their way in and our of our house through the soffits!! And yes, I did lose it with those squirrels – they were using my basement as a vacation home and the attic as their primary residence! Thank you for sharing this and pointing out how much we temper our reactions when our children are around. I always say I think I have learned more from my children than they have from me. And how wonderful that your husband was so thoughtful.

I love your musings Susan. It makes me feel good to know I’m not alone. Bless you!

Lyna says:

You wrote, “My husband brought me two dozen miniature yellow roses this past Friday. I did not deserve them.” Maybe. But you needed them, along with his other acts and words of support during a very trying 24 hours.
When we are not at our best is when we need love the most.

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