Sunday, June 03, 2007
The Pendulum Swings
Hell of a day, yesterday.

It started off normally enough, for a Saturday. I got up with the kids, dealt with breakfast and clothing, no big deal. Except that I found myself hair-trigger reactive to the slightest thing; the normal daily allotment of whining and balking struck me as unreasonable and infuriating instead of being just another day in paradise. I never lost my cool with the kids, but I was certainly playing fast and loose with it - the kind of parenting where, even as it's happening, you're thinking, "It would be so annoying to be in a store watching me with these kids right now. Not call-Social-Services annoying, just irritating."

I was edgy. Noodgy. Irritable. Like PMS - the "pre" of which still, 6 days late, would have applied yesterday morning. I recognized it while it was happening but still was unable to do much more than dilute the moodiness a little. I couldn't just vanquish it with mere recognition.

We made it through some errands in the morning, including a wildly unsuccessful attempt to have my minivan inspected. I'd made an appointment for 9:00 a.m., showed up at 8:55 with both kids and quiet activities, and was told, "Oh, the girl who did the scheduling somehow put two inspections in at the same time. It'll be a while before we can get to yours."

"Well, how much of a while?" I asked.

"We haven't started the other one yet... so maybe half an hour, 45 minutes."

I didn't bother to ask how come the other one took precedence over mine, if we were both scheduled at the same time, I was on time, and I had infinitely more children than anyone else in the waiting room. I just announced, "Okay, then, we're going to go somewhere else. Come on, kids."

Which is apparently code, at this certain car-care chain (starts with M, rhymes with bidas), for, "Everyone get excited and get the manager, this woman is about to unleash a 'roid rage upon innocent bystanders." Because I was immediately accosted by a sweaty, self-important man in a tie - thereby proclaiming him as a manager, I suppose - insisting that he can't help it, the scheduling was done by someone else and now they're late and there's nothing he can do. Throughout which I gave him my best freak-show quizzical look and then pointed out that I wasn't angry or upset, I was simply going to find another establishment more willing to uphold their own appointment book. He continued to bluster and gesture even as I was pulling away.

It was, at least, nice to know I wasn't the only one with a bit of a self-censor malfunction.

From there we went to Home Depot for their free kids' craft, because I just love the word "free," and made actually pretty neat little biplanes. Came home, had lunch, and I did my best to steer clear of any child-related interactions that would require me to speak or, you know, interact.

The pendulum of the day continued to swing toward "bad" for a few more hours. I had increasing discomfort, starting in the morning at "hey that hurts" and escalating by early afternoon to "WTF." Hard to go from cranky to cheerful while grinding one's jaw, somehow.

I'd been informed that my dad was going to babysit for us while Willem took me out for a birthday dinner, though because [insert unknown guy reason here] it was all supposed to be a big surprise about where we were going and who we were meeting. I'm someone who enjoys the opportunity to look forward to an event, so surprises are kind of lost on me, but it seems to make Willem happy. I'd been provided with a departure time of 4:30, so around 2:30 I headed into the bathroom. I figured, whatever we were doing, it was going to require a shower within 24 hours of said event.

Now, I won't go into detail here. You're welcome. But the outcome is, I'm fairly certain that the reason for my moodiness and pain was explained while I was in the shower. I don't think it was a mere case of delayed need for feminine products. I'm as positive as a non-doctor can be that I had a very early miscarriage. Bear in mind that just two days earlier, I had established that (a) I wasn't pregnant and (b) I wasn't ready yet, so this wasn't the total full-out crushing blow that the last time was. It's more disturbing, unpleasant, but at the same time a relief that there's some non-bipolar reason for my inability to control my own moods.

That was the low point of the day, right there. Because I don't care that I wasn't ready yet - there's still a sense of inadequacy and brokenness to the concept of miscarriage. And pinning a reason on my emotional roller-coaster wasn't enough to just stop that particular train. So I cried, and hugged my husband, and briefly thought about crawling into sweats and sending Willem out for Ben & Jerry's and hibernating for the rest of my life the night.

Instead, I put on a nice outfit, smiled nicely for my dad and his apparently-on-again girlfriend, who both watched the kids for free while we went out, and got into the minivan. Willem took me down to Beverly, MA, to eat at a place we loved when we lived in Salem, and we met Mark and Jenny there. We had a fabulous time. The meal was amazing, the dinner conversation was fun and intelligent, and Willem was seated jut perfectly to be able to sneak glances at the baseball game being televised in the bar.

Afterward, we drove over to Salem Willows, watched a violent thunderstorm pass quite close but not enough to rain on us, and wandered through the vintage '80s arcade games. I doubled the top score in Tetris, which is the only video game I'm good at but I'm really, really, really good at it, Willem reminded the Galaga universe who's boss, and Jenny played games involving rifles and zombies. Mark, the most inveterate gamer of us all, sort of wandered around with the awed overstimulation one might expect of a pilgrim finally making his way to Mecca.

Being all parents and still 99.44% lame, we were all ready to head for home by 9:00, but first Willem and I took a detour around Salem and Peabody to revisit the places we lived and worked way back when. Did you ever live someplace that just felt right, like the very air you breathed was a better match for your lung chemistry? That's how I feel about the North Shore. I'll be back. Someday.

So, a day that ran the gamut from brief but intense misery to a perfect birthday dinner out - kind of exhausting, but somehow right, too. There's something to be said for balance.