March 31, 2008

Bad Night/Bad Mom

There were so many possible titles for this post. “Mother Loses it Over Seemingly Insignificant Event.” “Going Asunder Down Under.” “Immaturity Reigns (in me).” Or I could take the passive aggressive route and go with, “Jealous Now?!”

Unfortunately the title doesn’t change the fact that we had a bad night and I’m still feeling it this morning. I’ll just start right off and give my excuse. I think it’s the cumulative effect of being away from home for two months, not having a car, having a child that’s homesick and at the same time doesn’t want to leave the four walls of our new (temporary) home. And having a husband that works a minimum of 13 hours a day (including some weekends—both days last weekend, in fact, though the days were shorter).

This is what happened:
Jerry’s very sweet friend slept over last night—well, he was supposed to. He ended up leaving around 11 because he was missing his mom (probably my fault). His mom had dropped him off in the afternoon and he and Jerry played their DS’s, watched TV, played on the computer, and generally had a good time. I spent the day doing laundry, sweeping, mopping, and trying to get in touch with our landlord who has not returned my calls for two weeks and has failed in his four week old promise to deliver us a vacuum that works (which means the floor of our bedroom is littered with the corpses of unfortunate bugs who fly in through our many doors and windows and never make it out again--disgusting). I baked a cake, which I had to bake in a pan two times too big (there are cake pans here but they’re rusted and I had no wax paper) and then the boys didn’t like it. I wanted to get out and Jerry’s friend was keen to go to the park but Jerry didn’t want to go and was unmoved by the fact that his friend did. So we stayed home. Again.

Eventually I decided I’d watch a movie and had just put it in the DVD player when the boys started talking about going somewhere (it was almost dark now). So I stopped the movie and we tried to figure out an arrangement everyone would be happy with. Jerry’s friend wanted to go to the park (and so did I). Jerry wanted to go to Movenpick for ice cream sundaes. I wanted them to eat something before the sundaes so I suggested snacks now (they were both hungry), then park, then home for dinner, then Movenpick, or snacks, park, Movenpick then dinner. Jerry hemmed and hawed and didn’t want to go and finally I gave them some snacks and started making dinner.

But here’s where it went awry. Jerry had lost one of his DS games the last time he had a friend over. I had already noticed the DS games on the floor by the couch earlier in the day and had said, “I don’t think your games should be on the floor. You’ll end up losing one.” As I walked into the kitchen to start dinner I saw the games scattered across the sofa cushion (which is where the missing game was last seen). I said again, “Jerry, I really think those games should be put away in their case.”

Jerry snapped. He said didn’t like the way I’d been talking to him lately. I asked how long he felt this had been going on and he said “It’s been flippin’ five months!” to which he added “You know I’m exaggerating” as he slunk down on the couch.

That was all it took. First off, the word “flippin’” really bugs me. I don’t have a big problem with bad words, it’s the intention behind them and how they are used that matters to me. So he may have said flippin’ but his intention was fuckin’ and after two months of bending over backwards to make our stay manageable and fun for him, and spending day after day in our house with the television blaring (something that REALLY effects my wellbeing in a negative way) an accusation of five months (exaggerated or not) of talking to him in a “way he doesn’t like” was enough to send me over the edge.

I didn’t yell though. I just went upstairs and turned on a This American Life podcast. After a while they asked when we were going to get ice cream and I said we weren’t going—we had never come up with a plan anyway since Jerry couldn’t agree on doing anything anyone else wanted to do (I didn’t say that part).

After my podcast was over I made dinner—one for Jerry and one for his friend since they both eat different things—and put it on the table. “Dinner’s on the table,” I said. Nothing. “Hey, you guys. Come and eat. Your dinner’s on the table.” Then finally, “I know. We heard you the first time.” Me: “Then why didn’t you respond?” Jerry: “You can assume that we heard you.” “Not with the television blaring I can’t.” Then there was some kind of snotty remark and I just walked out and slammed the door.

I’ve never walked out before. But I was so angry. I think part of why I needed to get out is that as much as I love this house it’s come to feel like I’m trapped here half the time. I’m sure that has a lot to do with not having a car (though we’ve been getting around fine by bus and the shops are just a short walk away). Anyway, I went out to the garage, folded some laundry, then sat on the deck waiting for Warren to get home. (I couldn’t go in because I had locked myself out and there was no way I was knocking on the door!) I could see Jerry at the dinner table through the window. After he ate he put his dishes on the counter then started looking for me. Eventually he found me and came outside. He wanted to give me a hug but I just couldn’t. I told him I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t even talk about it yet.

When Warren got home I left. I took my purse, thinking I might get on the bus and go somewhere but I ended up just walking. I thought about getting something to eat but I was afraid if I had to speak I’d start crying, which I did anyway. I ended up sitting on a park bench for a long time. I called home to let Warren know where I was and after a while I went back. But I was still mad. I couldn’t believe it really, but I was.

I knew Jerry would want to talk when I got home. I knew he’d want to hug me and to be honest I didn’t want a hug and I didn’t feel ready to talk. But when I got back he broke down. He sobbed. He kept apologizing. I felt awful. I hugged him. I said it was alright, but it didn’t feel all right. It still doesn’t.

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