Woman on the Verge

Okay, so Thursday?

I was probably certifiable.

No. Really.

After Ana broke her collar bone on the playground at school on Tuesday, I was the pillar of matronly strength. My husband was out of town and I was spearheading our efforts to "stage" our house in anticipation of its sale and our subsequent move to Long Island, New York.


I was SO together.

So then, I got the call and took her to the clinic and it turned out that her collar bone really WAS broken so I took her home and I filled her pain medication prescription and then I kept her home the next day and spoiled her.

Thursday, I woke her up, helped her get dressed and took her and Jane to school.

But, I forgot something.

Namely that people who have broken collar bones aren't given much but a sling to wear.

Immediately, some small kids came careening past Ana in the hallway as we were standing there and jostled Ana's arm. She went white.

It was all I could do not to come completely unglued.

I checked her in and I talked to the teacher (who I am fairly certain thinks I am a lunatic at this point) and then I watched her walk down the hallway to her classroom and I... wanted to wrap her in bubble paper or walk beside her as her posse or something. I wanted to make her some sort of box frame she could wear to keep people three feet away.

But the thing is? There was nothing I could do except let her go and trust that she can somehow make her own protective space.

I'm just the Sherpa, see. She has to make her own way to the top of the mountain.

So I went and sat in my car and I cried. And I cried not only for how little protection there is for broken bones, but how little protection we really can give our kids for life, you know? And I shed a few tears for the fact that in about two months, she's going to have to walk down the hallways of a new school with exactly the same amount of protection.

I went home and faced my painters. Who were, honestly, so incredibly helpful and all 'going above and beyond' and I was in a cold, black mood. I think the crew knew something was up because they didn't even play their radio while they worked. They turned all of my shutters back right-side-up. I was painting in Ana's room, covering her neon green paint with fresh white and doing that happy, healthy thing where I make mental lists of all of my failures and shortcomings and then repeat them to myself and wonder how the heck my kids are ever going to grow up sane and well-adjusted with me as their mother. I drove back up to the school to do my normal Thursday volunteer thing and to check on Ana who was surrounded by a group of kids when I saw her, and perfectly okay. She didn't even want me to pick her up at the end of the school day but said she would take the bus home.

I went back home and back to painting and beating myself up. I was taping off the baseboard and the blue tape got tangled up and stuck to itself and I got frustrated at the way the whole world sometimes acts like freaking blue tape and gets all knotted up and beyond straightening out and I threw the whole roll across the room and said something incredibly foul.

Just as Tony, the painter, walked into the room.

I wish I had a picture of the look on his face. It was priceless.

I don't curse very much because I sound like a Smurf and it's so incongruous that when I do let something fly, the response of most people is to laugh.

Tony did not laugh.

Instead, he went to his truck and got a new roll of blue tape and he gave it to me and then he told me he'd be glad to finish up in Ana's room for me. Free of charge.

I declined since he was already doing so much and because I needed to finish SOMETHING, dang it.

In the afternoon, hokgardner dropped by with three decorated cookies. One for Ana for being so brave. One for Jane for being such a good sister. And one for me.

For being such a good mama.

I stole three hugs from her and then I said, "It's just... it's just..."

And she said, "Everything."


She left and the painters packed up to leave and I apologized for losing it and they all made jokes about the times THEY'D lost it and how the one painter who wasn't there looks like Iggy Pop and curses a lot. They left.

Friday dawned a new day, with a fresh supply of hope and dignity (well, sort of, since we are talking about me and all.) I finished Ana's room, the painters painted Jane's room and my bathroom and best of all, Coop came home.


DK said…
That's just stressed, honey. I'm sorry you're stressed. You have every right to be. It still sucks. But stop beating yourself up. Stop it! Stop it right this second!

If we were there, I'd give you a giant big hug and Maggie would lick your ear. She seems to think that makes everything better.

And speaking as someone who routinely commits people to the looney bin...willful assault of tape is not a commitable offense.
Lynn said…
With all that you have going on, I'm impressed you got thru it as well as you did. You held it together for your kids, you kept right on painting, and you only swore in front of men painters. They are used to it and made you appear more human to them.

You still showed up for the volunteer thing even with everything else going on. You are a great mom for being a part of your girls' lives and for letting them go when they need to. The fact that she wanted to take the bus home says YOU are doing a great job by raising a self assured girl who can still function during adverstity.

Now go sit in the tub and take some time for yourself!!
Marion Gropen said…
It's okay to feel that way. We all do sometimes.

Now, if you STOP having moments when you wonder whether you're doing irreparable harm to your kids, or whatever, or if you have nothing else but those moments, THEN you worry.

Until then, we folks out here seem to think you should cut yourself some slack. And we're always right! Right?
Ei said…
Thank you to hockgardner for giving you the hugs I'd like to give you.

Barb, I cussed this week too, and cried about things that have already happened long ago, and I'm pretty sure I locked myself in a bathroom I didn't paint for about 15 minutes. It's just life. We're all doing the best we know how, and if you are being honest with yourself, you are beating about 3/4 of the people out there (totally made up statistic, so don't quote me).

I'm glad the shutters are on the right way. That's been keeping me awake across three states.
KnitFloozy said…
you do know that as a parent you are allowed to have a moment of insanity? You have a lot on your plate right now and sometimes it can be overwhelming....big hugs and lots of tissue my dear...let the tears flow when they come...you are a fantastic mom!
hokgardner said…
As I drove away, I was wishing that I could stay with your for a while. I'd have helped untangle tape or cursed along with you - I'm GREAT at coming up with new curses - but I had tired cranky kids in the car.

I hope the hugs and the cookies helped a bit.
Bullwinkle said…
Awwww ... here's some more hugs. And hopes that things lighten up for you. And you are wonderful - the best (and only) time to fall apart is when its all over.
Well, I wanted to let you know I stopped by; but I feel unequal to leaving a comment as nice as the ones already here. So, yeah, what they said...
Suna Kendall said…
I sure hope today is a WAY better day.
Damsel said…
What a great post. Because I AM that mother. Yes, yes, and yes, and you are amazing. Your girls and your hubby are so blessed to have you, and I'm sure that they know it.
TheOneTrueSue said…
When it rains it pours, eh? And sometimes when it rains, you just have no more room in the bucket for ONE MORE DROP OF FREAKING RAIN. I'm sorry. I hope things are getting better.

Poor Ana - that visual of her at school - so poignant.

Many virtual hugs~~~
LaDonna said…
hok, thanks for taking care of our Barb!

Barb, honey, I think I've told you this before, but I've moved myself across the country twice now. Stress comes as a part of the package. Quite frankly, I've been impressed because you've handled it so much better than I did. I think you were about due for a small breakdown. Let it out, let it happen, and then go on. For now, it's all you can do.

Sending you some hugs of my own!
Sarahviz said…
Love the "freaking blue tape" analogy. It's just so true. *sigh*