Mama Drops the F-bomb

Today has been one of those days.  One of those days.

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The day began pretty typically for a Saturday with the Hub leaving for work at 6:00am, kissing me gently on the forehead as I barely have the strength to move, both arms trapped under sleeping boys.  As he walks out, I lay, trying to remember when and how they ended up pinning me to the mattress.  I have no clue.  I move.  Eyelids snap open.  Coffee.  Heading into the kitchen, I am struck by the most debilitating pain in my foot.  Crumbling to the floor, clutching my foot with tears starting to sting my barely awakened eyes.  A Lego.  A mother-humping Lego.  And it’s still stuck in my foot.  Right in the sweet spot between the ball and the pad.  I can barely contain it but I am thinking it.  Really thinking it.  Fuck.  It’s not out loud.  But it’s more oozing from the pores in my forehead.  I am sweating obscenities.

I manage to recover.  With no help or concern from the little beasts gobbling granola bars and fruit cups from the couch, little eyes glued to glowing screen like they’re in some kind of trance.  I survey the house.  The living room is pretty bad.  The sink is piled with dishes.  I efficiently, almost smugly, loaded the dishwasher the night before last (yes, you read that right) only to find that we were out of detergent.  And then I forgot to get it yesterday.  So now, this morning, not only is the dishwasher full of dirty dishes, but all the dishes from yesterday are piled in the sink.  Sweet.

Looking over to the playroom, I am filled with anxiety and dread.  That has to be cleaned.  You see, we are in the beginning stages of selling our house and have people coming to look at it tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  And they are such a sweet young couple… The sight of that playroom may affect them so profoundly that they may never again be able to stomach the idea of bringing children into the world.  But more importantly, they probably wouldn’t buy our house.  I sit.  Staring- glaring in at the mass of plastic, knowing that I will have to find a spot for each and every piece of shit in there.

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Fuck.  Again, not out loud but in my soul, I am breathing this curse in deeply and spitting it out from far in the back of my throat.  Silently.  And with a smile.  Because that’s what we Mamas do, right?  We hold shit together.  For everyone.  With a smile.  Because if we can’t, everything falls apart.  Everything falls apart.  No pressure.

Mooch has a birthday party today and we have yet to choose the perfect gift so we are off to pick out something ridiculously pink, frilly and girly.  Just have to pick out clothes for everyone.  Walking into my bedroom, the fury of my looming task in the playroom returns in full force.  Standing in the doorway, looking down at the heaps of laundry I must also deal with.  But later.  I dig in, searching out shirts and pants and underwear, and socks.  God, I hate looking for socks.  Hunching over, trying desperately to find the match to a dinosaur sock, I am so engrossed in my quest that I don’t even hear the smallest child sneaking up and pouncing on my back, catching me off guard, sending me face first into an over-turned laundry basket.  Fuck.  This time, it’s mostly in my head but the Fffffff slips a little.  Hi Mama!  Got you!  And he runs off.  The quest is over.  Mooch will not be wearing matching socks today.  I walk out of the room, but not before I take one long look back…  Knowing I will have to tackle this later.

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Mooch is pissed about his mis-matched socks.  Zook won’t wear his coat.  Cub is bitching at me for something but I can’t even hear him over Zook’s angry wails.  We manage to make it into the car.  Zook continues with the sobs- now because he wants to take his seat belt off.  I stop to pick them up bagels.  Silence as they chow in the backseat.  The toy store is uneventful except leaving- which is always stressful.  Always.  And ends with me yelling that I am leaving as at least two kids run screaming, partially believing that I may actually be gone.  I am beat.  But we have a gift that looks like something a fairy barfed up so I think we are in good shape for this party.  Mooch steps in cream cheese.  And now it’s all over the car.  My wallet falls to the ground into a mud puddle.  Along with the card for the gift.  Cub stands, looking at my wallet, acting like a sponge, soaking up the murky water.  Pick it up, I am saying to him.  But he’s just standing there.  I’m not putting my hand in that… I vaguely hear him say as I am wiping cream cheese off virtually every surface with upholstery.  Scooping my water-logged wallet up, I glare at Cub.  I get in and just as I swing my arm down, I feel a bump.  Hear a splash.  Looking down, I see that someone has left a full bottle of milk on the center console.  Without the cap.

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Fuck.  This time it’s out loud.  Instant shame.  Did I just do that?  Was that out loud?  Did they hear that?  I desperately scan the rear view mirror.  Yup.  They totally heard that.  No one says anything.  Nothing.  Deep breaths.  I put the cap back on the milk. Put my seat belt on, after about ten deep breaths.  I pull out of the parking lot.  I know I should say something but I am just not quite sure what that should be so I just drive.  Finally, I just blurt out, I am sorry.  That was a really bad word.  Mama was really angry and frustrated but it’s still not okay for me to say bad words.  Quiet.  And then giggles.  Breathe Mama.

It was a day.  A bad day.  One of those days.  But now it’s over.  Now, they are up in their beds. They know their Mama isn’t perfect but they know she tries her hardest every day.  The playroom is clean.  The dishes are done.  And the laundry, well that’s still up there.  But tomorrow is another day.

Peace, Mamas.

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“Mom, I Know What Happened with the Twin Towers…”

Cue the sucker punch to the bread basket.  We stopped for a quick bite after finishing up some Christmas shopping tonight.  So we share about our day.  And it was over some fries and burgers that this came out of Cub.  “Mom, I know what happened with the Twin Towers.”  Oh, are the kids talking about this in school?  Keep calm, Mama.  But I can’t.  The knot in my stomach is creeping by it’s fingernails up my throat.  So I do what any logical person would do to push that knot back down: I cram more fries in my face.  As fast as I can, really.  Gross?  I know.  But I can’t stop.  “No, no one is talking about it, I watched a video about it in the library at computer time.”  You did… Were there other videos?  The fries are barely keeping the panic at bay.  “Oh yeah, there’s ones about the nuclear bomb and Nazi’s.  I think the bomb is also called a Nuke.”  Okay, okay.  Okay.  We’ll talk about this later when your brothers aren’t sitting right here.  Who wants to tell about their day?  “I want to hear more about the nukes!” said my five year old with such enthusiasm that the fries were no longer cutting it.  After a few long pulls on the chocolate shake, I successfully change the subject.

So that’s how it went down.  I binge-ate and my kid knows about the largest and most horrific act of terrorism our country has seen.

As we drove home, the boys sang along to a Miley Cyrus song and argued over which superheroes are the strongest.  You know, normal, annoying shit kids should be talking about.  Meanwhile, I tried to process the conversation and my feeling about it.  Because I am a social worker and we social workers just love to process.  Why am I so upset about this?  I knew he was going to find out at some point.  He should know.  It’s a huge part of our history.  And that’s when it hits me.  It’s not really part of our history because it’s hasn’t really been long enough to be history.

I remember that Tuesday morning.  You remember too, don’t you.  A glorious fall morning.  I was serving serving coffee at a small cafe.  My second year of college had just begun.  Pink shirt, black pants- which were probably a bit to tight but really brought in the tips.  The radio blares Hotel California.  The phones rings and it’s my soon-to-be-husband.  Two planes flew into the World Trade Center.  My mind sort of stops for a minute.  Why?  How did the pilots manage to crash their planes into two buildings right next to each other?  I hang up the phone.  Thinking, thinking.  A customer bursts through the door.  They bombed the Pentagon too, turn on the radio.  My hands leave fog marks on the stainless steel counter.  And the rest of the day is a little blurry.  Customers come and go.  We don’t tell people to have a good day.  In fact, we don’t really say much of anything.  We just sort of make eye contact.  Like the kind of eye contact where you just want to tell someone, I know.  I feel the same way.  How could this happen?

Then came the death tolls and the shaky video footage.  And the screaming people running down stairs.  The brave souls who entered to get strangers to safety who never came out again themselves.  All the cable channels were shut down.  You know it’s bad when Food Network is offline.  The only thing we Americans could watch was the news.  And holy shit, did we watch the news.

Recounting all of this during my drive home brought me to tears.  This is not history.  This is now.

And that’s just it.

When my kids ask about slavery or civil rights, colossal mistakes in our nation’s past, I can say things like, We know now.  People acted out of stupidity, ignorance and fear.  But how do I explain something to them that exists today?  Seriously.  Someone please tell me how I am supposed to make sense of terrorism to my child?  Please.  Still to this day, men and women (and in some cases children) strap explosives to their bodies and go to schools, town squares, places of worship and marathons, with the intention of taking their own life and as many other lives as possible.  This isn’t history.  This is now.  Right now.

As we sit on his bedroom floor, I finally muster up my courage.  Tell me about the Twin Towers.  And he does.  And asks if it’s true.  Yes, honey.  It’s all true.  But what I don’t understand, says my gentle, thoughtful eight-year-old baby, Is why would those men do that?  Like a dump truck of bricks, this shakes me.  To my core.  I don’t know.  I can’t understand why anyone would hurt another person.  I can’t imaging something that would make that okay.  Me either.  Does it make you feel scared?  Yeah.  And sad.  Those people died.  Yes.  There were many people in those buildings when they were hit.  Oh.  I meant the men who took over the planes died.  I am sad for them and the other people who died too.

This is the silky, fluid innocence that I can literally feel slipping through my fingers.  Sad for the people who died in the buildings but also for the men who died trying to murder others.  Why can’t this world be filled with kind souls like this child?  Oh wait, it is.  We shape them.  Society shapes them.  We can’t protect our children from the terribleness of the world, the complicated sticky mess of a society in which we live.  And that makes me feel powerless but we also need to remember that innocence, kindness and empathy don’t need to be cultivated.  Those attributes already exist.  I believe to my core that humans are born good.  I could have said, those men deserved to die because they killed others.  Hate breeds hate.  I don’t want to raise him to hate.

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So maybe the answer is that I need to be honest: I can’t make sense of this because there is no sense to be made.  He seemed to grasp this tonight.  This is the first of many, many conversations which will test us as parents.  I am not in the business of handing out advice but what I can say is that being honest with my kids seems to work.  It feels vulnerable and raw and like I don’t have all the answers but I think it also propels my children to process things that they don’t understand.  To mull them over for a while.  That it’s okay to not have an answer as long as you continue to devote thought to it and talk it over as you work your way through.  I am just a Mama who is terrified of failing at this Mamahood gig.  So I process.  So I throw my plea out to the universe hoping that I am able to find my way.  That I can be the Mama they deserve.

Peace, Mamas.