I was one of those kids who couldn’t fall asleep the night before the first day back to school. Was I filled with excitement as I anticipated a new teacher, a new array of classmates, and new academic challenges?
I fretted and dreaded. Would that bully kid still pick on us? Would I be taller than my teacher–again? If I had store-bought clothes, would I wear the same “first-day-of-school-outfit” as someone lower on the totem pole? Or worse, would kids notice if I was sporting homemade clothing? Would Mr. Wolf eat his students? Who was this monster and who let him become a teacher?
Worst of all, would this be the year that I lost my title as “Smartest Kid in the Class?”
Combine those thoughts with the drone of a window fan trying to remedy the heat of a still-summer August night and my propensity to stay up late during the summer, and I would lie awake hour after hour.
By about midnight, my mom would give me and my twin half a Unisom each for fear we would never sleep.
I said hallelujah!* At last sleep came, and my fears subsided.
I would awake with excitement as I packed up my school supplies, new lunchbox, and boundless enthusiasm. I called goodbye to the wonderful mother who probably had not slept all night due to sewing enviably darling new school clothes.
The night before my kids started school this past week, I went silent after they were in bed, but inside I fretted and dreaded. Some harmless comment from my husband and I went into full-on meltdown mode.
My husband got an earful while I slammed around the house and tried to make sense of all the clutter we’ve accumulated in the past several months. How was I to send my children off into the world again with their home in absolute disarray? I was letting them down, and the insecurity of leaving from a messy home in the morning would dull their minds and gut their confidence. What kind of a mother does that to her once brilliant children?
At about the time I was furiously scrubbing a clean pizza pan, I remembered something: I’m in therapy now. That’s supposed to help.
‘Let’s see, earlier this week I came up with a positive affirmation to stop my classic ‘Shutdown–>Blow-up–>Shutdown” cycle.’ I took a deep breath and searched for a rational thought.
What was it I was going to say? That’s right, I would regain the sunny side of life by saying: “At least.”
[It does no good if someone else says it. That’s just grounds for beheading you with my “Laser Eye.” Oh, what a horrible superpower that would be! To say, “Off with your head!” to any who said the wrong thing to me when I’m fuming. I would have no one left.]
So I began simply: “At least I have two hands that work.”
I scrubbed even more furiously.
“At least I have two arms that work.”
This was getting easier!
“At least I have two ears, two eyes, two breasts that work (baby thanks me for that one), two lungs, two kidneys…”
But when I hit “two ovaries that work,” I froze mid-scrub.
Now.hold.on.a.second! I DO NOT want either ovary pumping out potential kids.
And then a worse thought.
What if it’s too late? What if one already sneaked through to the baby-in-waiting room? What if that plan for “no more kids” hasn’t been properly implemented because we keep forgetting to make that phone call? What if the stop-gap measure has failed, like it did on Friends?
Now my meltdown turned from molten lava to tears.
[I realized as I wrote this that I blended Thursday night’s meltdown with Friday night’s bluster, and now I’m writing fiction. I don’t want to own that throwing a suitcase was what finally got me crying/trying to think straight since throwing things does not sound very pro-organization while scrubbing dirty dishes does.]
There is nothing like the thought of impending morning sickness to get a mom to clean up all the crap from last school year, plus all the unsorted mail that has accumulated since a hospital stay. I tell you, there has to be a Paper-Wasting Department at our insurance company. How many thousands of pages do you need to tell you that you have not yet received a bill? I could re-carpet my house with “This is Not a Bill” statements right now.
So on Friday while my kids let their brilliance shine, I sorted through papers and clutter like a mother. My shredder, recycle bin, trash can, and disgust emotion are still getting a thorough workout. I actually found a breakfast taco living in one cupboard. I blamed it on a lousy trash can and threw out his defective lid. I hope he learned his lesson! ‘Cause the earth is going to be paying for my plastic refuse for another millennia, so hopefully some good can come of my rash trash decision…
I let the organization and de-clutter bug have full sway over me until a different bug took over. The tummy bug that accompanied us home from our road trip and who continued to haunt us sporadically the past two weeks appears to be coming on. And I pray it passes because I have too much left to de-clutter if this nausea is from morning sickness.
*This is a radio edit of Lo Fidelity Allstar’s song “Battleflag.” Don’t read anything into the word that was edited out. It just didn’t belong in the first place.