Today’s happiness is the kind that feels like floating. Internally my spirit is level. There’s a little buoy inside me, bobbing about on a sea of incidents. Sometimes it’s pummelled by waves of children who hate my parenting, or knocked up against the rocks of an empty bank account, or just squeezed into a shrinking air pocket of career possibilities. But today, the bauble is bobbing at the surface of a calm sea. I’m warm, but there’s a breeze running through my mind, ruffling the edges of my thoughts. I’m still dithering a bit, wandering from kitchen to desk, but I’m wandering happily, wandering slowly.
Yesterday, after Big R’s playdate, which normally wipes me out, I poured everyone some juice and we three went out to the shady side of the balcony to play Go Ape on the futon. R was begging to knock on doors in our apartment building for more playmates, but I decided to ignore that for his own good. His therapist said he and I were cut from the same cloth – highly sensitive to other people’s feelings, easily overwhelmed and needful of quiet time.
I hate playdates because they are so noisy. Two five-year-old boys sticking an imaginary world together with the volume of their voices: ‘Let’s say…’ ‘No! Let’s say…’
Everytime they came in earshot, I’d think, ‘Stop being so controlling, R. People don’t like that. They won’t play with you anymore.’
But I managed to hold myself to, “Are you letting S make some choices too?”
After a few hours, the tears. R was getting more and more protective of his little paper creations. Little Brother longed to be included, but settled for touching the precious papers to kickstart Big Brother’s hysterical tantrum.
Modelling calm, on my part, was not working to prevent head-butting revenge.
Probably, being cut from the same cloth, my son needed the playdate to end as much as I did. My screaming and head-butting is just internal. Luckily, the playmate was picked up soon after a mac-and-cheese truce.
With our calm afternoon, we picked chard and beans from the balcony garden. Little Brother discovered a few ripe strawberries. Big Brother sold us “French fries” and “root beer” out the bedroom window. I managed to think of a plan for dinner in time to execute. I found a recipe for chard, garlic and gruyere pizza and another one for tricolore bean salad, then took the frozen dough out of the freezer in time, and boiled a beet (for an hour!) so it would be ready for supper. (My son is always requesting beets but I never think of them in time.) Then when the sun rested a little at three we went off to a shady park near the supermarket and picked up some gruyere for the grown up pizza and smoky sausages for the boys’ pizza.
It’s weird to me that I’m feeling so delighted about making dinner. I’ve always disapproved of that kind of domestic Betty-Crocker delight. Maybe from coming of age during those slack years of grunge. But when I manage to pull a big deal together – two kinds of pizza, one which required wilting chard in garlic, a side of (pre-cooked) beets, and a bean salad – without feeling overwhelmed or snappish, it’s such a huge accomplishment. Especially after a week of throwing together last-minute pierogis and peas from the freezer.
Sertraline keeps the endorphins level enough for me to care what we eat. Yoga helps me focus and makes me willing to plan. And maybe the clonazepam I took the night before the dreaded playdate made me chill enough not to care when dinner wasn’t ready for my super-punctual husband.