The washing machine door slammed closed with a satisfying THWACK! and I moved onto the dishes. I pulled a pan from the drying rack, tossed it to its rightful place, and--BANG--shut the cabinet door. Silverware into a drawer. SLAM! Laundry basket onto the table. THWACK!
I moved in a widening sphere around the kitchen and living room, tidying, arranging, banging, thumping, and crashing. The more frustration I attempted to dispel with these loud acts of rebellion, the more frustrated I became. Finally, finding the house tidied and lacking the fuel of an out of place cup or errant toy, I sat down on the couch and seethed.
I was trying to get the house ready for the cleaners to come. This is a finely-tuned ballet that happens once a week in which I do all of the things the cleaners won't do like stripping the sheets off the bed, putting the dishes away, getting a few loads of laundry done, washing the pee-stained cat mat, etc, etc, etc. My husband and mother (and, I'm sure, given the chance to chime in with an opinion, all of North America) think I'm insane for "cleaning before the cleaners come." But let me defend myself and say that this is NOT the case. I'm simply getting the house ready so that when they get done doing the real work of scrubbing toilets, washing sinks, vacuuming, and mopping, I can come home to a house that is both clean and tidy. The alternative is to come home and have my laundry still to do, toys piled in a corner, dishes put away in the wrong cabinets, and a much more stressful situation than if the house never got cleaned in the first place.
Every week I have Crystal come over at 9am so that she can occupy Pooker during the two hours I'm getting the house ready. Last week an insane thing happened and River and I actually slept in until 10am, so Crystal came, left a note, and came back when we finally woke up. It was completely reasonable, then, for her to call this morning just before the appointed time to see if we were up.
Of course I was out getting much needed caffeine before the morning marathon and missed the call. So, when River and I got back from the coffee run I attempted to put him down for his nap, knowing Crystal would be over any minute to relieve me. River's teeth hurt and he was having a difficult time getting down, and all I could think about was the pile of chores waiting for me and, after that, the few minutes I might actually have to myself that were dwindling away with each failed attempt to get him into his crib. Finally, after half an hour and no success, I left River in his crib and went to find out where the hell Crystal was. She had just been waiting for my call and came over right away (by which time we had missed the sleep threshold and River was wide awake again).
It was a simple misunderstanding. Crystal didn't do anything wrong. River didn't do anything wrong. But I was so pissed off, and the washing machine and kitchen cabinets seemed like as good a target as any for my rage.
It can be incredibly frustrating to get a teething baby to sleep. I nurse, I rock, I sing. I hold the wailing baby and muster as much patience and loving calm as I can. Finally, after such a long time that he has exhausted himself and passed out, I lay him in his crib and creep out of the room. If I'm lucky, he is not up screaming in thirty seconds. And this is a task I have to do three, four, sometimes five times a day. I love this boy so much, but his nail-scraping shrieks could drive even Mother Teresa to utter a harsh word.
Even with that in mind, I don't think my anger was about the failed nap. (Maybe it was about the nap a little bit.)
More than anything, I think it's about the season. I always forget how much the lack of sunlight and the cold weather affect me until I'm tearing around the kitchen like an angry bull. Then I realize, oh yeah, this season really makes me kind of crazy. I get moody, lethargic, depressed, and angry. I'm short-tempered, tired, and sometimes mean.
I watch myself doing horrible things like criticizing Thom or banging around the house, and I know deep inside that this is not acceptable behavior, but I can't stop myself.
I wish I wasn't so susceptible to outside forces, but I am. And being a mom makes it harder to do the things I need to to relieve the stress--like getting some fresh air or exercise. But I need to find a way to get a handle on this Seasonal Affective Disorder or it's going to be a mighty long winter for the Doyle family.
After I calmed down from the morning rampage, Crystal suggested we go to her house so she could nap with Pooker while the cleaners did their thing. I wrote this while the two of them slept for a couple hours. And now, as I finish this up and get ready to spend the day with my darling boy, I have to say things are looking a little brighter.
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