Wednesday, August 30, 2017


It was exactly one day after we had returned from vacation, and I had yelled so long and so loud that I went hoarse.

It started out calm, then escalated as my frustration rose against a child of mine who I perceived as knowing an expectation but was trying to weasel out of fulfilling it on a technicality.

Vague enough for you? It’ll have to do. Writing about teens isn’t the same as writing about toddlers.

The bottom line is that I lost it: my calm, my cool, my sh*t. I lost it. It came back around quickly, but not before I felt the old Guilt bubble to the surface. I haven’t felt that guilt that strongly in a while. Maybe a year, maybe two. It could be that my kids are too old for Mommy Guilt to play a major role in my life anymore, or maybe it’s just been there so long that it now only registers for mega-infractions like yelling myself hoarse and not because I bought white bread instead of whole grain.

In any case, I yelled and then I felt bad. I’m a better mom than that. I’m better than that. Did I mention that I also used the F word?

We were just back from a 2-week vacation, one in which we laughed and hugged and held hands and shared hotel bathrooms without much fanfare or mutual annoyance. We all behaved. We were the perfect American family on the perfect American vacation, road-tripping up the coast of California, seeing all the best tourist attractions and none of the worst. We said yes to souvenir t-shirts and appetizers and desserts. We saw mansions and took studio tours. We rode bikes and walked on the beach. We played cards. We went to an aquarium.

Not 24 hours home, and I was screaming the f-bomb at one of my children.

Is it this life? Is the pressure of keeping it up and everything in it straight too much for me to bear? Is life too hard, too fast, too much? It runs like a machine – shouldn’t it get easier? I’ve been doing this for so long – shouldn’t it get easier? My family is growing, able to take on more of their own responsibilities – shouldn’t it get easier? I’ve been an adult for longer than I haven’t been an adult – SHOULDN’T IT GET EASIER?

The raspy voice inside my head says “No. It should not get easier.”

None of it gets easier. I say it to my kids, remind my husband, and commiserate with friends. It will not get easier. Certain things that were hard before will fade away, but other things that are harder will fill the open spots. Kids not sleeping at night turn into teenagers staying out past curfew. Stealing “me” time becomes unnecessary; how to spend time productively becomes an issue. The heaviest worries, like whether we’ll always have what we need? Those never go away. New ones: health concerns, changing relationships, parents getting older, the loss of loved ones – they are real, and sudden, and demand attention.

And they aren’t made easier by me throwing temper tantrums and screaming swear words until I am hoarse, no more now than before.

Ah, this life. It rages on and on, no matter how we deal. There is no extra allowance for gracious acceptance. You get what you get, and you can try to make it wonderful, and sometimes your efforts fail. The only beauty is that you may have the chance to do better tomorrow. But even that is not guaranteed. The best thing to do is to make the best out of it all while you have it.

And to not beat yourself up for raging against it sometimes. If you’re lucky you’ll have people in your life who forgive you when you crack, and catch you when you fall.