Just Give Me Back My Pieces

I am having one of those weeks. By one of those, I mean a fighting through depression week. It feels like this: two sandbags attached to my forehead, a thrumming in my chest, a bad attitude. I am not the kind of depressive who takes to my bed. I am the kind that gets cranky, edgy, stomping. A lot like The Little Asshole. I’m trying my best to keep it together, but I’m struggling.

The depressive funk started, I think, on date night. My husband and I were in one of those huge, vinyl booths at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro enjoying Chicken Lettuce Wraps when I looked up and saw a women sitting at a table nearby. She looked like my mother. I did a double take. For a minute my brain betrayed me and I thought: MOM! And then I was snapped back to reality. It’s not her. She’s dead. Still. Always.

I was suddenly filled with the most intense longing.

I want my mom back.

In a matter of seconds fast and furious tears started streaming down my face. I hate crying. And I especially hate crying in public. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with crying or with crying in public, but I just feel like if I start to cry I’ll never be able to stop. That I’ll be swallowed up by the grief and carted off to the place they keep people who have a chronic weeping problem.

So there was that. The missing. The longing. The grief. Like a rusty anchor holding me in place for days.

I decided that since I was pissed off and sad, it would be good to take action. Do something rather than just tweeting and stewing. I decided to tackle the playroom.

For a few weeks I’ve been ignoring what has been going on in the playroom. The big kids have been having fun up there and we’ve been allowing the 2-year-old to hang out with them because he seems to have passed the put everything in your mouth phase. Well, I had no idea. The concept of “wreaking havoc” has never been so well-defined.

When I opened the door I seriously could’ve passed out. It looked like toy hell. If I was the OCD type I would’ve required instant institutionalization.

Every single game that we’d amassed in the last eight years via birthday gifts, holiday presents, etc. had been unceremoniously tossed out of the box, across the room, in every corner.

The cherries from High Ho Cherry-O were mixed with Candy Land cards, Bingo chips, and Tiny pieces of the U-Build Mouse Trap Game. Game boards were stomped on, spinners and dice were in the doll house, and I can’t even begin to describe the state of those slutty Bratz dolls.

Let’s just say that it looked like the Bratz dolls had been through a war. They were missing feet, arms, legs. Their hair was matted and random High Ho Cherry-Os were sticking out at odd angles. Someone had tried to replace a Bratz head with a Barbie head. Polly Pockets were naked. Barbies were face-down, shoved in a corner of the doll house like a bunch of passed out heroin addicts.

The games weren’t the only thing that got tossed across the room. Every puzzle, too. Hundreds of tiny puzzle pieces mixed together on the carpet. Those teeny tiny Polly Pocket clothes and accessories mixed in with the puzzle pieces. And apparently the dog had been allowed in the playroom, too, because a handful of the puzzle pieces were chewed to bits. I was sure somewhere under all the toys I’d find a dried up dog turd. It was only a matter of time.

I had two choices: 1. Freak the fuck out. 2. Burn down the house.

Burn down the house was my choice, but I couldn’t find matches, so I took a box of industrial sized floral scented trash cans up to the playroom and tossed every single thing on the floor into a bag while singing Missy Elliott’s “Work It” at the top of my lungs.

Between singing, “Love the way my ass go bum-bum-bum-bum/Keep your eyes on my bum-bum-bum-bum-bum” I swore to myself that I would never buy my kids more toys ever dammit, and that I would be selling them to a soup kitchen for a lifetime of volunteer hours, and that my two-year old would be enrolled in an early therapy course for the tiny sociopath.

You know what happened? After tossing all of those toys, and trying to pluck the High Ho Cherry-Oh cherries from the Bratz doll’s hair, I started to feel a little better. And a little part of me felt like my mom was probably watching and having a good laugh (at me, definitely at me). So, I may not have all my pieces, but I think it’s going to be okay.

I Am Swimming Beside You

My dear friend,

Fucking December. Everyone is so damn jolly with their Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas crap.

There is nothing little about Christmas, and for many of us it’s a real bitch to muster our merry.

I know this month has to be especially hard for you. There’s nothing as painful as feeling shitty in the midst of real and manufactured holiday cheer.

You have been on my mind because I know you are struggling. Struggling hard. I want to thank you for fighting. I want to thank you for digging in your heels and not giving up. It is a gift to everyone who loves you.

The undertow of depression is strong. It is a long, hard swim with no view of landfall. It is a sandbag on your chest, a chorus of unwanted voices in your head. It is the ultimate internal battle.

You do not fight this fight alone.

Tonight I was thinking about you and a vision came to me. First I saw you swimming for shore. You were gasping for air, struggling to keep from swallowing salt water. Your hair was wild. The tide was working against you and your legs were burning and shaking from exertion.

Then I saw you buoyed. You were buoyed by the sounds of your children laughing, playing, fighting, whining, whispering their secrets.

You were buoyed by their sweet breath and their silky hair. By their pages of homework and art projects.

All thoughts of what you should be or could be and what you aren’t and what you are trailed off behind you and dissipated into the ocean.

You were completely free to love and be loved.

Then I saw you buoyed by the perfect cup of coffee, by the melty goodness of your favorite chocolate, by the heady fruit of a glass of wine.

You were lifted by scenes in a movie, the words of a great writer, a girlfriend’s laughter. And the most soulful music filled you with light.

You were buoyed by the warmth of your mother’s smile, by the sound of your father’s voice, by the silky fur of your dog.

All thought of what you should be or could be or what you aren’t or what you are trailed off behind you and dissipated into the ocean.

You were completely free to love and be loved.

The weight of your despair trailed off behind you and in its place was peace. Your heart was buoyed by calm and surety.

I want to share this with you because I so badly want this peace for you and feel very deeply in my bones that you will have it and much, much more. It must be so. It will be so.

I will be swimming beside you.

I love you dear friend.

You Feel Blah and Other Consequences Of Childrearing

“Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Services, what is your member ID number?”

“I’m having a crisis.”

“What is your address?”

“I am having a crisis. Do you really need my address right now? I gave it to the intake nurse dude.”

“What is your phone number?”

“I. Am. Having. A. Crisis.”

“What seems to be the problem?”

“I feel totally meh, shmeh, like…all the time.”

“Meh? Shmeh? Can you tell me more about that?”

“It’s just that, well, I’m not exactly depressed but I’m not exactly happy. I think I need a break.”

“What I’m hearing is that you feel, um, meh, and shmeh, and you need a break.”

“Yes. This morning I had to do the Charleston at my kid’s Music Together class and it pretty much pushed me over the edge.”

“The Charleston?”

“Yeah, you know, that dance the flappers did in the the early 1920′s. The arms swing forward and backwards, with the right arm coming forward as the left leg ‘steps’ forward..”

“And this made you feel, meh?”

“Well, the other moms seemed happy, and I felt like an asshole pretending to be a flapper when I feel meh.”

“Are you suicidal, homicidal, hallucinating, psychotic, amniotic?”

“No, I just feel meh. Shouldn’t I feel better than meh? I mean, my life’s not that bad, right?”

“I really couldn’t say either way, Ms. um, Weenberger.”

“Weinberg.”

“Ms. Weinberg. How can we help you with this problem?”

“Well, one of my kids eats only Tyson brand chicken nuggets and the other only eats macaroni & cheese, but it has to be Annie’s, the Annie’s with pasta shaped like peace signs, which is ironic because she is not peace-loving at all. She’s a little jerk a lot of the time. I mean, yeah, she’s got her great moments, and I love her, but I’m not sure how she’s going to function in the world. (Pause) Do you know if I used the word ‘ironic’ correctly, because I’m not sure that was the correct application of the term irony?”

“Ma’am?”

“Oh, and my sex life. How are you supposed to have sex with three kids in the house? Is it supposed to feel like a Bikram yoga class every single time? Because I don’t feel stretchier at all. And then there’s the two-year old. He did start pooping on the potty, but he can’t manage to keep food on a fork. And he ran in circles during the entire Music Together class. For an hour. He ran in circles.”

“Would you like to speak to the pediatric advice nurse?”

“No, I just want to feel better than meh.”

“I could prequalify you for two sessions with a counselor.”

“Two?”

“Two.”

“But I promised my daughter a kitten. And I’m allergic to cats. And having an animal crapping in a box in my house kind of freaks me out. I guess I just need a win right now. And to feel better than meh”

“A win?”

“You don’t have children, do you?”

“I can’t disclose that, ma’am.”

“Well, my daughter hates me most of the time and I needed to do something…like promising her a kitten…and it made her so happy…so that could be categorized as a win for me.”

“Would you like me to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician?”

“Have you met my primary care physician? De-press-ing. I’m going to go now. I’m going to go eat a bag of Oreos. And maybe some potato chips. Yeah, Oreos and potato chips. And then I’m going to lay down on my dog-hair covered sofa and stare at the wall until the baby wakes up.”