Friday, January 1, 2016
Couldn't Escape If I Wanted To
It's the first day of 2016 and I was shuttled out of my house by incessant husband to "go and write." I left the tree partially undecorated, Ever in breakfast distress, the baby covered in the pink and blue powder from the girls butterfly make-up kits they gave one another for Christmas.
I have resolutions on the brain, even though I don't fully encourage them.
It has been a good holiday break. We ventured out a lot with the children, we had some really quality date nights, celebrated with dear friends and spent a few days in Idaho and slept in while grandma played with and fed our kids. There were a couple nights tinged by anxiety for me about spending too much, eating too much, drifting away from the schedule that keeps us sane and healthy. Turns out 38 year old me is sort of a stickler.
But case in point, the other night, after working all day I decided to let go and sit on the couch and do nothing. The kids were beyond hyper, with enough energy to shuttle us all to the outer reaches of space, and Christopher and I were depleted. As we perused Netflix for a family movie we stumbled on Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and for old time's sake we started watching it. And then we started laughing. And then we were ignoring our kids and their shenanigans all together.
Until the baby emerged from guest bedroom covered in blood, screaming, with an entourage of siblings behind her. There was a large gash above her eyebrow which was dripping all over her face. My adrenaline went into overkill and I picked her up and handed her to Christopher.
"I can't do it," I said to him.
I knew it was emergency room worthy from the look of it. Christopher--our family medic--took a look at it and knew as well. Seconds later we were putting her boots and coat on and giving her kisses. Christopher took her to the hospital while I stayed home with the other kids. Much to their chagrin too-I sent them all straight to bed without much empathy for their excuses. A million times a day around here we say "be soft with the baby" but her excitement to be with the big kids, mixed with their boundless energy often mingle into over-reaching wrestling. To their credit, no one has ever been hurt more than a few tears and usually they go right back into the fray as soon as they get their wits about them.
(This was an actual case of monkeys jumping on the bed, one falling off and breaking her head. This was only funny the day after. Thanks Anson.)
That night after Christopher and Iris came home--her face newly minted with nine stitches and somewhat lethargic from the sedatives, but completely sweet and happy, I went over in my mind what went wrong that evening. And you know, maybe nothing went wrong, maybe this is the casualty of having kids. But it walks that sober line of wondering how much to control and how much to let go.
When I have control, things go well for everyone else, but I feel anxious. When I let go, I feel relaxed but everyone else feels out of control. I would call this the core problem of my parenthood. I do feel that as my children grow they're able to join in the problem solving side of things, but for now I feel mostly like a cruise director, keeping everyone blissfully occupied while constantly on the look-out for icebergs.
Also I thought a lot about that moment of seeing Iris bloody and without breath from screaming so hard and how I couldn't handle it. It's like my mother's fear won't let me register their pain because I so badly don't want them to feel it. I am grateful for a partner who is clear-headed and calm, and I am grateful I know I can count on him to help us. But for the health of the family, there should be two parents who are clear-headed and calm in that situation and so I've got some work to do.
I never did get to finish Bill and Ted's. I was really looking forward to the part about Napoleon going down the waterslides at Waterloo. (So funny.)
Maybe I just found my new year's resolution for 2016...