I tend to be an open book here, sharing with you everything from how I get annoyed at work and how I mourn to moments of bliss with my girls. The thing is, I let some pages stick together, preserving a part of my life as sacred. There are different reasons for doing it; to protect certain people, or to stay, as the politicians say, “on message,” and of course to keep the blog from being updated hourly with every bit of tedium of a working mom’s day.
Last night something happened that I think bears sharing, despite the way it will leave a person vulnerable and open to criticism, that person of course being me. It was an average day, nothing eventful to speak of other than the day being a Friday and the start of what I had hoped would be a great weekend. We had the whole thing mapped out, with Nana taking the girls for an overnight and the two of us plotting to rebuild the blasted porch rails, which had rotted despite being barely a few years old.
The sight of the mold or fungus or whatever fresh hell oozed out after each rainfall had begun to wear on me, erasing any sense of accomplishment from keeping the house clean or managing to get the girls dressed, fed, groomed and out the door on time. The rot stood as some sort of indictment, a failure as homeowner, mother, wife and more. Oh, how the rot had to go!
I talked with Sean around quarter past five and arranged to walk the girls down to his office. He was thrilled. The girls pushed their strollers along the streets of our neighborhood, happily pointing out squirrels and planes and chattering on about the state of the babies that rode along. When we met up with Sean he was energetic and happy. We headed for home.
Things quickly soured as the late afternoon heat took its toll, the girls begging to be held, abandoned strollers claiming one arm per parent, the girls the other. Nerves frazzled, backs strained and under-the-breath mutters cut, I snapped. Harsh words followed by rapid steps, I sped away with Fin on my chest and Ave in my arms. It was neither pretty nor mature.
Later, as it became clear that Sean’s short fuse and flagging energy were the result of a cold, I shifted. And do you think I shifted to caretaker and loving partner? No. Every negative feeling I had came rushing to the forefront, I was annoyed, snappish and angry. He kept asking me what was wrong as I stood seething, angrily scrubbing the sink. The longer I went without answering, the more it felt as if I were trying to dig my way out of sand, dry, slippery, impossible-to-stop-from-cascading-over-me sand.
My embarrassment over my emotions only served to fuel the fire. A stony silence fell over the house and in a hollow voice I told him how angry I was, “That I am sick?” he asked me incredulously. I had no choice but to answer, “Yes, I am.” So shallow, but I wanted a break. I wanted to know we would be going into the weekend as partners, instead I was preparing, with great resentment, to have to care for 4 people. My cheeks burned and I berated myself internally for what I was feeling. It wasn’t fair, even now as I type this my shame rages.
You see, he really was sick, but he also wanted the same things I did. He wanted to work together, repair the railings and have a weekend. No work, no one else’s agenda, just us. After a few rounds of futile discussion during which I couldn’t shake my annoyance he slipped away. I buried my nose in the girls, flipping through storybooks, cooing over Fin and delivering post-dinner slices of cheese. His absence gnawed at me and I wished I could hit start over and relive the walk, not storming off and not extending an icy silent treatment. My self-flagellating reverie was broken by banging.
“s dat? ‘s dat scary noise?” Avery asked with comically wide eyes.
“I’m not sure,” I replied, though I knew exactly what it was and waves of shame washed over me as the sound lifted my pout. He was outside tearing off the railing, his shirt drenched, his eyes puffy and red. Despite how juvenile I’d been and despite how shitty he felt, he was taking off the damn railings, being the bigger person to salvage the weekend.
It’s shame that has me writing this. Sean is a bigger person than I let on sometimes. Last night he did the kind of thing that keeps a marriage on track, he crossed the line, setting aside how and what he felt in order to do what he knew needed to happen to snap me out of my mood. I hope I get the chance to even the score soon, until then, I’m prying open one of those previously sticky pages and sharing with you how absolutely incredible he can be.