I slept badly last night and woke up today feeling truly blue and dreading being at home with the boys. I know that when I am at my best, we are (together) capable of making a mundane day enjoyable — but when I am not at my best, I lack the confidence to know that the day will turn out ok. Given my druthers, I’d have stayed in bed till late this morning, moped around in pajamas, and written stinky poetry in my journal.
Obviously my druthers were unavailable.
There is a part of the experience of being at home with small children that is about intimacy. My boys and I, we’re close. We know each others’ habits and signals. I know when it’s time to get them outside, or there will be murder in the air. I know when they need structure and when they need space. I know when they need to rage and when they need to be told to get over themselves. And they know when I am starting to skid, and, sometimes, how to push the moment to its crisis. They don’t necessarily yet use their powers for good instead of evil, and alas neither do I, consistently.
Our intimacy has its darker side. Because I am incapable of putting on a smiley face, my kids are always going to know when I’m depressed. I struggle with making our home safe for feelings, as the home I grew up in was not, at all. At the same time, I struggle with the concern that I burden them with my own deep and volatile feelings.
Often the answer (if there is such a thing) is in the moment. Today I would have preferred being a cubicle denizen somewhere, anonymous enough to toggle between misty and weepy all day. (That is, if the lounging and moping and bad writing didn’t work out.) Plan C — being with my amazing, adorable sons — turned out to be ok, though. I tried my best to plow all the emotion I was feeling into something I could use. I got very still and present with my kids, and not only did it help with the kids, it also helped me feel more confident to cope with what’s making me sad. It was not a perfect day, but it had many more lovely moments than I dared to hope for when I woke up.