“You have to blog so I have something to read on the way home,” my father said to me this morning.
“No pressure!” I answered, and we laughed. Then I told him I’d try to come up with something.
When my folks come to visit for less than a week, it feels like they arrive and we eat and have some wine and some ice cream and then they leave. I never know where the days go. It is never long enough, and yet after they go I reassemble the house—taking the place mats off the dining room table and replacing the decorative runner that indicates we are normally an eat-at-the-kitchen-table family, stripping Chickie’s bed and putting her sheets back on and the guest sheets and towels in the laundry—and then curl up with Licorice and take a nap. I’m completely exhausted.
To be clear, it’s not my dad and stepmom who are exhausting. It’s probably just life, but somehow we stay up a lot later when we have company, I guess.
To be even clearer, I have recently started on a new (to me, anyway) medication that seems to be making me even dumber than usual. (Modern medicine is just WONDERFUL!) I had myself a merry little meltdown right before my folks arrived, wherein I became convinced that life was awful and ruined and no one would ever be happy again. Otto—dear, sweet, even-keeled Otto—held my hand and listened and nodded and asked if maybe, possibly, he wasn’t IMPLYING anything, and he wasn’t SURE, you understand, but MIGHT it be the case that the new med was making me just a WEE BIT unsteady and this reaction, while totally okay and he had my back and everything, could possibly be partially due to brain chemistry rather than, you know, reality? I conceded that while life was awful it was also true that I just didn’t feel good in general, so he had a point.
After that I dried my tears and vowed to enjoy this brief visit and not let my ridiculous and often overwrought emotions get in my way.
The good news is that for the most part, my plan was a success. There was a lot of food and a lot of laughter and despite that thing where the hard stuff you deal with every single day suddenly strikes you anew in all of its many-splendored sucktasticness as you watch someone else watching you deal with it (you know how that goes? like, this is just something you do, but then you see That Look on someone’s face and you remember, “OH! RIGHT! Most people do not live like this, actually”), I spent most of the past five days just enjoying our company and wishing that they didn’t live so far away. And I’m not just saying that because I only buy potato chips when my dad’s here.
The bad news is that, while I was largely able to avoid further emotional boomeranging, I’m surprised I didn’t end up burning the house down or giving myself a brain injury. I walked into things. I managed to kick the dishwasher door up with my foot—a move I’ve made a thousand times before—in such a way that it cracked into my knee so hard I saw stars. I stood at the kitchen counter making dozens of pancakes on Sunday morning, set out everything else we needed for brunch, even remembered to keep the pancakes warm in the oven while I cooked; then, just before we sat down, I grabbed the heating element for our electric griddle with my bare fingers. (That thing gets HOT, in case you’re curious.) Lucky for me, I forgot all about my blistered fingers later that night when I was pulling dinner from the oven and managed to rest the top of my wrist on the (hot!) oven door.
And no, none of these incidents involved alcohol. I am just clumsy. Clumsier than usual, I should say.
I’m hoping this period of relative fog will wear off—after all, I’m running out of skin to burn or bruise—and that I return to feeling like myself in the near future.
“You two should think about taking a vacation,” my dad said, last night, as we adults were sitting around talking, up too late. “Without the kids, I mean,” he added. Otto and I exchanged a look, because that sounds like a great idea, but also an impossible one at this point for a hundred different reasons.
The conversation veered in another direction for a while, and then when we were finally all getting up to shuffle off to bed, my stepmom piped up. “You know, if you want to go somewhere, I would come down and stay with the kids. I’d be happy to. Think about it.”
“Oh, my God,” I said, overwhelmed by the offer. Five days of watching juggling schedules and doctors’ appointments and homeschooling and school phone calls and deadlines and shrieking meltdowns, and still, that willingness? “That’s so sweet. And… brave.” (“Brave” seemed more appropriate than “foolhardy,” after all.)
There was chuckling, and we said our goodnights and put our ice cream bowls (already licked clean by Licorice) into the sink. Everyone turned in.
I lay there in bed, so tired but unable to sleep, reminding myself that the grogginess will pass. Or it won’t pass, and we’ll try something else. It won’t always feel like everything is so hard or like everything I do is wrong at best or damaging at worst. Burns heal, bruises fade. Clarity will return. Maybe Otto and I will even plan that vacation.