In a wood trimmed, light-deprived, bamboo-floored monster cave, the walls drool as new teeth pierce through tender skin. The monsters find comfort in the reek of poopy diapers, rotten sweetness of perfumed wipes, soured yogurt, over-ripe bananas and broccoli steamed three days ago. The sink is a compost of each days leavings, spattered with milk, crusts of peanut buttered bread and grandma’s Earl Grey. My back is an old fruit, weak and rotting at the core. The monsters are gone. Left to go someplace; jackets, bunny snacks, blowing kisses and a water bottle Not sure where they are- my fuzzy mind forgets a minute ago and can’t plan past the end of each day’s night-night tantrum.
Relentless claws of a trapped animal works my gut, a swill of a caustic and nasty broth bubbles up a tea of resentment. Abrasive shards of anger, resignation, guilt-ridden reflection stab at the soft tissue surrounding my heart. My temples throb and pulse as each monster child squeals, dragging across the floor snot globs gluing dog hair to their cheeks.
Liza’s toddler rage, her own sadness and frustration sucks the center from my previously reliable compass- sends it spinning, and me dizzily ready to flee. Being stuck here is the worse part, I told my husband. But its not. It’s not seeing the end to the “stuck”. Sanity requires that there is one. Is indeed, an end. Not just a developmental shift, not accommodation or adaptation. A change in attitude helps with coping. But I cannot do this anymore. I need a change in this daily life. A healthy change in which everyone survives seems best, but today that seems unlikely. And there will be casualties. Fling them to the floor, drag them by their feet, toss them in the bath knocking their heads on the soapdish. Stay sit do not move, I shout, like they are dogs.
My belly’s raked with searing pain, head throbbing-through dry blurry vision I see a open-mouthed screeching monster ringing her hands, washing her head and arms with the oatmeal I prepared an hour earlier and evidently left too close to the edge of the counter. The bowl drops, crashing glops flip onto the cabinet face, on the refrigerator, and under the door. I keep writing. Ginormous feet rake their claws across the floor, dragging the stickiness with them, then regaining balance, palsied hands grope the cabinets, just fresh-cleaned, scrubbed free of jam glue and peanut butter the color of crap. One bath a day isn’t enough to wash them clean from the scary place in my mind, and send one shrunken form at a time, oatmeal-free down the drain.
Organic oats, the flake-type, because steel-cut aren’t her favorite, fresh grated Granny Smith apples, a dash of cinnamon, steeped in yogurt and water, cooled with organic whole milk. Set into a steaming dish before the prickly princess who has captured my psyche, punctured my spirit and seized my last precious moments; snatched, sneezed upon, smeared and squashed, then gobbled up by the handful. Screeching, screaming, growllllll, and fling back to the floor, head banging, like a fall from the menopausal swingset, an unpredictable rage! All this feeling attained in a mere 17 months of life. The scariest of the fire-breathing monsters, screams dousing my nightscape and dares to emerge again by day.
How does one cope, really? I think about that too much. I have a lot of inborn coping by temperament and more collected by life experience. But by this I am undone. The fabric of me can only handle this much kneading, clawing, pulling until it droops, weakens and tears. Then falls to the ground and crashes. What happened? How am I different than last week? Well, last week I had a plan. I had fooled myself into thinking that by May or June when we moved into the house, there would be change. Then a nanny and her family would move into the cottage here to be on-call for the kids, to support your daddy and mommy in their roles. Be here for us maybe a trade-plus salary arrangement, I could see a tiny prick of light at the other end of the cave. And then the rocks tumbled down. My naivety, economics and reality, I guess it is, hit me like a dust cloud during a landslide.
The parents are not showing up. The parents are not working on this, not developing. The parents are not good for these kids and there are no other relatives and the lady at the grocery store that mentioned she wished she’d been able to have children, was shocked when I told her she could have these kids. With grave dis-ease, she shook me off, shrugged and turned her shoulders away from me and I stared at her until she left my view. My horse is gone. I gave Roxie to Efren, the insulation installer from Gilroy, so why not give away the kids? The woman seemed nice, was buying healthy foods and drove a Subaru with ample space for two car seats.
We’ve run our construction account dry. We’ll take a break until we can get more funds together in July, then re-start it. Maybe September. September. OMG. I can’t bear the thought of that many crying mornings, tantrum nights and back strains, stomach aches and pints of snot woven with dog hair and fingernail trimmings. The project kept me sane. The project kept me plugged in to adults, meetings, appointments, to the other life. Kept me interested. Creative. Engaged. I am lost. The cave deepens, darkens and grows cold. Then Grandpa fell off his mule, hurt his back, sits in the house talking to colleagues, using the house phone, tripping babies with his crutch, and traps dust bunnies underthose dominant slippers on vacuuming day. My space is gone. My solace, too. And you are sick with asthsma, snotty, smart with night terrors from whiffed medicines and sleeping in our room with the grandpa who needs help getting up between the crying child the peeing dog and Ellie’s 5 am- I’m tired. And I am mean.
The fire-breathing dragon with sharp claws and toenails in need of a trim, has wild grey hair and no time for a shower. She dominates the cave; pushing away the baby, dropped on her butt when she wriggles to save her own spiny back, steps on a child-sized finger, snaps a pinched belly into the car seat clasp, stops her brother from hitting (usually) and serves the soup too hot. I’m not good at this. The grandma is gone. She’s retired. Tired again. A mean wrinkled fucker with scales and bad breath has taken her place. And become the meanest cave monster you have ever met. gma