I had the shakes. I was jittery. I kept biting the skin around my nails. And it wasn’t just because of the excessive coffee I drank.
Although walking in sunshine and over-eating fresh pasta and flaky, buttery pastries are excellent, highly recommended coping mechanisms (which I assure you I employed to the very best of my ability), I still managed to pathologically miss my children on vacation last week.
I just… really missed them.
I know. I’m an embarrassment to exhausted mamas everywhere, and I should have my vacation credentials revoked.
The truth is I was gracious and kind last week except when I was pissy and unlivable. My emotions came in tsunami-like waves with crests that rose on rushes of exhilaration and troughs created by fear. I was deliriously happy at the freedom to sleep when I was tired, to stop for a cappuccino when the mood struck, and to pee in blessed solidarity. And I was terribly afraid that something awful would happen to my kids while I was irresponsibly away, because no matter how many times I try not to listen to the untruths, I’m entranced by the lie that my presence is required to avert catastrophe.
I think it’s fair to call it a roller coaster week.
Or maybe it was just a week.
After all, it was pretty typical for messy, complicated, mama me. Ups and downs. Triumphs and fears. Kindness and cruelty.
I’ve noticed that taking myself on vacation requires me to deal with myself there, much like I’m required to deal with myself every day and in real life. That feels, somehow, like a terribly unfair expectation for a vacation, but it is, nevertheless, true.
Of course, it helped soothe me that Greg was out of his mind last week, as well. I could tell by the way he kept saying ridiculous things like, “Beth. The kids are fine. They are not pining for us. I bet they’re even enjoying their time with others.”
Logic was lost on him, you guys! He was completely without reason.
Which is why it was probably silly of me to ask Greg to put my pen back in my purse for me.
I mean, of all the times to give someone an important task, in the midst of mutual insanity is not one of them. I should’ve known better, and, frankly, I’m pretty sure this exact situation was covered in our premarital counseling sessions when our counselor said that a) communication might be an ongoing challenge for us, and, specifically, b) to not ever ask Greg to put my pen away for me when I’m strung out on vacation and incapable of handling, oh, anything.
Our premarital counselor really knew his way around a crystal ball.
So I handed Greg my pen, and do you know what he did?
He put it in the only zippered pocket in my purse.
Like it’s not obvious that the only zippered pocket in my purse is exclusively reserved for important things like my phone and cash and chapstick… and that pens are supposed to be tossed haphazardly into the abyss where I have to shuffle through pennies and matchbox cars and wads of my kids’ chewed gum that are poorly wrapped in old gas receipts. Doy.
I asked Greg why he did it. Why – oh, why – he so poorly used the single, solitary zippered pocket?
He looked at me like I was the crazy one, and he said he did it because – and I’m going to just go ahead and quote him here so I’m not projecting my feelings about the situation or misleading you in any way – “I thought you might want to find it again later.”
That’s what he said… he thought I might want to find it again later.
Oh yeah? Well, I didn’t want the pen in the zippered pocket even if it appeared to belong there. Even if it made more sense there. Even if it served a purpose there.
Good grief. I mean, if God intended my purse to be for finding things instead of losing things, I’m pretty sure that God would’ve made different decisions while working the line in the purse factory, perhaps creating mine with more than one pocket. Way to question God’s plan, ya know? I hope you’re watching out for lightening, Greg; I really do.
And, anyway, what good is it to find my pen the first time I look? That makes no sense. I need to search and sigh and grumble and dump out handfuls of trash and say things like, “I know I have a pen in here somewhere.” It’s the struggle that makes it worthwhile. You can’t just expect things to be easy, you know.
Greg said that things aren’t always easy, but that I make things more difficult than they need to be.
My important, philosophical point is this – purses are like life:
- I dump things in them in haphazard fashion.
- It takes way longer than I’d like to figure out what I need to carry for myself, what I need to carry for others, and where to fit all the pieces.
- And it turns out that, sometimes, things I don’t expect find their way into my inner sanctum, my cherished space, my zippered pocket.
I was both more and less than I wanted to be last week. Better and worse. Gentler and more biting.
And I missed my kids. A lot. Which is something that keeps showing up in my zippered pocket, even though I didn’t put it there on purpose.
Perhaps, rather than trying to dump Missing My Kids out every time I see it taking up space in the inner sanctum, or complain about not wanting it there, I can think of my longing for my children like the pen…
… something I discover much more quickly than I intend
… something that makes me uncomfortable when I find it right there in the middle of the most important places
….but also something to recognize that I need to touch frequently
because, like it or not, that’s who I am, and that’s what belongs tucked carefully inside my zippered pocket.
What about you? What’s in your zippered pocket?