Straightening my Head

Noah, Sam and HannahWhile I try very hard to juggle everything it’s not like it is a walk in the park.  Every day I have the washing machine going, as there are four of us and two are twin boys.  I try to make dinner every night, thought tonight was an exception: pasta with jar sauce from the store.

But sometimes I’m just not prepared for all of it and it comes out and it’s not fair to the kids or the rest of the world.  But I can’t help it.

Today was a perfect example.  I got home from work, after 8 hours of fidgeting around and getting nothing accomplished I actually wanted to accomplish.  I also get what they call “cluster headaches” which means they come in clusters.  Sometimes one a day, sometimes several, always insanely painful.  Today was a bad one and I’d already taken my dose of medication for it.  It started with a phone call where, as a joke, my middle daughter, the babysitter, had locked one of the boys out of the house.  I was a joke, meant to get him to stop hitting her with a glove that was doing no real damage and, by her own admittance, not painful.  But instead of the few seconds it should be he went running up the hill, acting all helpless and put upon.  All I needed would have been a neighbor to think he was wandering the neighborhood unsupervised for my day to take a worse turn.

I walked in to hear this story played out, in unison, with differing stories escalating in volume by the son and the daughter.  This along with my headache.  These headaches are similar to migraines – certain sounds and bright light hurt – but not a throbbing headache.  Is more like someone takes a sharp pencil and sticks it in your forehead and digs around a little.

One boy had a doctor’s appointment so at the point I needed to start making our simple dinner I was informed that Wednesday my daughter has yet another part of a project I thought was finished to complete.  Mind you, being my daughter, she cannot simply write a paper or do something simple, it’s a complicated video with scripts and scenes and lord knows what else and . . . like her sister before her . . . completed at the last minute.  Since I had to come home to take her brother to the doctor this wasn’t what I wanted to hear at this point in the day.

Waiting for my son in the lobby of the doctor’s office the headache medicine kicked in and the pain started to go.  I began to regret my mood – that I grumped my way into the house.  I felt bad I groused at their projects and that I was angry at Hannah for her joke and that I was annoyed with having to contend with their problems.

It was here that I felt my head go back into place and realize that while I don’t have that spouse to help juggle everything . . . they don’t have that either.  I’m what they have, the one person and the stabilizing factor they need.  Much when I speak with my father, their tendency is to release all the pent up frustration, worry and stress from the day the moment I get home.  Days like this I don’t know if I can really shoulder it . . . but then they need me to do it.

So after a few minutes peace . . . I grabbed my son, stopped and bought their college-bound sister a Christmas present, and rubbed his head.  He told me about his school project, how worried he was about his field trip and what the next week was about.  I listened attentively and gave him a hug as we got out of the car.

“Love you, Dad” was all he said.

And that tightened things up.  Seemed to be all I needed.  I read them a stave in A Christmas Carol and tucked them in . . . and started the washing machine again, baked some cookies for lunches and sat at the table to wrap presents.

And now I’m prepared to do it again tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Straightening my Head”

  1. “Parenting, as everyone quickly discovers, is a lonely, exhausting job for which none of us is fully prepared.” Michael Thompson in “Best Friends, Worst Enemies.”

    You’ve been at this on your own for a while, but sadly, being a parent is not a job anyone ever masters. The kids and the context change too much every day. So do you.

    You may have walked in the house grumpy, but you walked in the house. You are there for your kids, a steady presence (even when you travel) who carries them through their own swells and crashes. You provide. You love. You come home.

    1. thank you . . . that’s a very nice way to look at it. it’s true, I never hesitate at the door like it’s an effort to walk into the room and get bombarded by the trio of conversations in unison. I don’t look at being a parent as “work,” either, though much of the time it’s fairly exhausting. Most days it’s not a big issue but this day was just off somehow. But I’ll keep that very sentiment in mind…I’m coming home. I like that.

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