I have trouble shutting off under the best of circustances, which is why I have to read almost every night before turning out my light. My brain needs a mechanism by which to make the transition from problem solving, list making, prioritizing, care taking....into a state of of peaceful limbo.
So as I said, even when there's nothing particularly bothersome or stressful happening in my life, my mind tends to churn ceaselessly as I lie there in the dark, desperately trying to escape into oblivion.
When I'm stressed, it almost doesn't even pay to get in the bed at all.
So I'm not particularly well rested these days. And then, yesterday, like clockwork, my monthly migraine struck. Usually, I retreat to my dark and quiet bedroom with an icepack and wait for it to pass. But I had phone calls to make, emails to write, documentation to print, timelines to organize and names to list.
By ten that night, my head hurt so badly I was close to vomiting uncontrollably. I really, really hate to vomit. Its almost a pathological aversion.
Finally, sick and exhausted, I crawled into my big inviting bed, turned out the lights, and arranged the ice pack delicately for maximum exposure. I laid there breathing deeply trying to quell the nausea and stay on top of the waves of pain that washed over me in time with the beating of my heart.
I was almost asleep when my door opened and Diminutive One whispered timidly...
"Mom? Are you still awake?"
"Ummm...do you think I could sleep with you? I'm feeling....afraid."
SIGH. I can't tolerate any movement or jarring when I've got a migraine, and Diminutive flops around like a fish out water when he sleeps. How he gets any rest is beyond me.
"Babe, I'm sorry, I just don't think I can stand that right now. What are you afraid of?"
"I don't know. Just afraid."
Well, he had plenty to be afraid of. Our meeting with the lawyer the next day had him worried that someone would be going to jail, even though we had assured him that wouldn't happen. His anxiety was in overdrive and he had no way to cope.
Except...to get in bed with his Mom and take comfort in just being next to her. How could I refuse him?
"Alright, get in. But please try to be still."
"I won't move a muscle, I promise."
And he didn't.
We both laid there not sleeping and not moving for a long time.
It was I who broke the silence.
"Babe...I'm sorry I didn't take care of this a long time ago. I should have."
His head rose off the pillow and he peered at me, surprised.
"It's not your fault Mom. You didn't know it was so bad."
"I should have. It's my job to know stuff like that and to fix it. And I didn't and I'm sorry."
I was crying then, tears slipping down my cheeks and pooling in my ears. But I don't think he could tell in the dark.
"You took care of it Mom. You protected me."
"Not soon enough."
He slipped his arm through mine under the covers, and nestled his head into the space between my shoulder and my ear. I could smell his breath. He hadn't brushed his teeth. I didn't scold him.
"I still think you're a really good Mom."
Dear God, I'm not.
I yell too much. I swear too much. I'm impatient. I'm not consistent enough and I'm lazy about following through on threats and punishments and I let him play video games far too much because sometimes he is just so much work that I don't have the strength for even one more battle.
And I didn't fix this soon enough.
But he thinks I'm a really good Mom.
Fuck that makes me feel bad. Like I've been knifed in the gut and my entrails are spilling out onto the sidewalk, being trodden upon by heedless passersby.
Probably the kid who gets beaten black and blue every day thinks his Mom is awesome too.
Kids are so stupid.
Because they have no idea how inept we really are.
Someday, I'll make this up to you Diminutive One. I don't how, or when, or where, but I will. Maybe I'll buy you a new car for your 16th birthday and you won't even know that it's guilt that put those keys in your hand.
Maybe I'll co-sign for your first loan, or give you money to start your own business or babysit your kids like, a million times without being paid.
I understand some things my parents did a little more clearly now.
It's the secret they don't tell you about when they hand you that little pink or blue bundle. What you're also taking home that day is a lifetime of guilt.
Hey universe...I think I've reached my quota now.