Plus, there was never anything good on TV

My husband just left last night for the next week and a half. Up until a couple of years ago, this would have been cause for much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I still do love a good teeth-gnashing, but adding those couple of years onto my kids has made a world of difference. When Angus was smaller, every time Matt went away he would wake up yelling for me in the middle of the night, generating a really unpleasant adrenaline jolt that would turn me into a really unpleasant mother trying to appear pleasant. It would take me hours to fall asleep, then he would wake me up, then it would take me hours to fall asleep again, usually about four minutes before he woke up for the day. Three nights was my absolute limit before I turned into that kid from the exorcist before the exorcism. Lifting kids in and out of the bath would kill my back, usually one or both would get sick or break a finger or something, plus there was no one around to yell at for leaving the milk out of the fridge or losing one mitten from every pair (except myself, and that would have frightened the children). When Matt called home and said "just calling to see if things are okay" I would snarl back "Why? It's not like you can do anything useful if they're not!". Nice, huh? Once on the evening he was supposed to be home, he called and said he was stranded for one more day in Toronto because of a snowstorm. I said okay, no problem, get home when you can. When he complimented me on this later I told him it was just because I was worried the plane would crash and the last thing I had said to him would have been bitchy. He said he didn't really care, he'd take it anyway, but it was a dishonest moment of graciousness.

It's much different now. My parents moved here a couple of years ago, which was better than winning the lottery. If one kid has to go to emergency, I have someone I can dump the kid on in the middle of the night who will then still speak to me the next morning. Sometimes the kids spend a night there, in which case I always plan to play the piano and have blissfully uninterrupted reading time and clean the house, and I usually end up wandering around missing the kids and whimpering over their neatly made beds and fully knowing what a dumb-ass I'm being.

Being alone with the kids is kind of cool now. We miss Matt, but for the kids it's kind of a neat break in the routine, and for me it's a chance to do everything my way and feel like a halfway competent mother. I still walk around in a fog of sleeplessness, but that okay -- it gives everything a misty, romantic glow. I read Eve her story every night and Angus reads me a story every night, they argue amicably over who's going to sleep in Daddy's spot, I generally know where everything is because I'm the only one who puts things away, and the three of us form this little island for a few days. Until Matt gets home and I disavow all knowledge of them while I recover (yes, yes, I love you too, now go away and let me read, Daddy has chocolate for you!)

That's perspective for you. My relationship with three o'clock has changed almost one hundred and eighty degrees from the time before I had kids. I have some depression and anxiety issues which occasionally get together, hump each other and produce one huge self-loathing issue (sorry -- too crass?). This also results in really fun sleeping issues. In the past, three o'clock of either persuasian (am or pm) seemed to ring the death knell to either the day or the night. At night, it was the hour that I saw and then pretty much gave up on anything resembling a restful night, so I would switch my focus from fall asleep fall asleep fall asleep RIGHT NOW to lovingly detailing how much the next day was going to suck. I think Ray Bradbury called three in the morning the time when "monsters eat your soul". As much as I love staying up late reading or wandering around in my house while everyone else is asleep, three a.m. is just not a good time to be awake in the dark. It feels scary and unwholesome.

In the day time, it was often the hour that made me feel like I had lost control of the day, wondering what the hell I had done with all those hours and if I was completely wasting my life and how to properly dispose of myself so I would have the least impact on the environment. Apparently the body experiences a natural energy dip between about three and five p.m., so that probably had something to do with it, but mostly it felt like another mile post against which I came up short -- no matter what I'd been doing, it was almost supper time and it didn't feel like I'd done enough.

When Angus was a newborn, I was a mess. It was all completely normal, but when you're doing it for the first time, it feels anything but normal. My stomach had been slit open like an envelope, my body had become a foot source, and this tiny, red, bellowing little thing that gained four pounds for every thirty seconds I held him was now moving in, forever, and not overly impressed with the service so far. Matt had five days off. Whoo-hoo. It was hard -- I didn't know what the hell I was doing, my lower back was on fire, and every time I felt like I'd spent two hours making funny faces at him, I'd check and six seconds had gone by. The days crawled by at first. But at three o'clock, we were over the hump -- Daddy would be home soon. My checklist of things to do for those days consisted of: Keep kid alive. At three o'clock it was : kid alive? check. Three o'clock was now a whole different animal -- the friendly furry gentle head-butting kind, rather than the scaly hissing venomous kind. Three o'clock a.m. was just another time to shove a boob in someone's mouth (usually the baby's) and then it was oh my God! it's 3 a.m. and he's still asleep! You must have jostled his liver against his kidney when you put him down and now he's dead! Angus gets home from school at three in the afternoon now. I still get tired, but that's okay, because now I usually feel like I goddamned well deserve a rest. We all have a break and then we start homework and dinner and discuss what happened at school (usually nothing. Almost nothing ever happens at school. They get there, they sit in their chairs and stare at the wall for six hours, then they come home.), who called who a doofus and whether Daddy's pretending or if he really does speak French that badly. Three o'clock is just the slight-past-mid-point of another day of me being a not-entirely-unfit mother and wife.

A few weeks ago ago I was reading Contact by Carl Sagan. The kids were at my Mom's and I was on the couch in the living room when there still was one. I don't remember everything all that well, except that there did seem to be evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence at the end, and that something from the message received leads the scientist to a point in pi (Pi - 3.14159265359 and so on and so on and so on) where the numbers become a pattern of ones and zeros, and it's sort of cool and mystical in some way that people who know math would understand.

Anyway, I finished the book, feeling happy and refreshed, then I walked into the kitchen and the digital clock said 3:14.


 I felt like I was getting my own message from the universe - like maybe three o'clock was saying "sorry for all the crap I put you through -- no hard feelings?"


Magpie said…
Then again, 3:14 is kind of like 3.14 - also known as pi - maybe the kitchen clock was suggesting that you eat PIE.

I'll shut up now.

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