It’s warm out, and sunny and lovely. Exactly the kind of day that drives people outside to take walks, mow lawns and mutter to one another about that house with the overgrown shrubbery and giant spiderweb taking over the living room window. We all hate that house, especially me, because my comfy chair is right up against that window and at least once a day that big-assed spider tries to attack me. Yes, the glass is between us, but what you’re not understanding is that he’s much too clever to try to physically attack me. That would be far too simple. No, what I’m being subjected to is psychological abuse. While I’m minding my own business, sitting in my comfy chair, the little beast lines himself up just to the outside of my peripheral vision, and when the moment is right, he leaps. At nothing. And at everything. Because that leap represents the moment in which my subconscious goes, “Ho hum, what a lovely day OH MY GAWD WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT??!!! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!!! RUN, YOU STUPID APE, RUUUUUUUUUNNNN!”
And then I have a little breakdown.
So, yeah, I definitely hate it more than anybody, and if I had my way we would’ve just blown the whole damned house up when I first learned that our front bushes are really a cover for an enormous network of psychologically-tormenting spiders the size of house cats, but apparently there’s no getting your money back from the bank on the grounds of saving the entire planet from a deadly spider breeding ground.
On this warm, lovely day, our front windows are open (with the exception of the one next to the spider, because I’d rather cook to death in my own home than open that window, screen or no), our neighbors are out. An idyllic scene, which I am not enjoying because I have The Sick. It’s a cruel trick of nature when mom has The Sick longer than the kids had it, because I am capable of little more than shuffling between the living room and bathroom, while – by contrast – the children are pinging off the walls with the frantic energy of the recently recovered. Which, frankly, feels a little show-offy to me at this point, but The Sick has a tendency to bring out The Cranky, so my perspective can’t really be trusted. (Ever, actually. But one of the few benefits of The Sick and The Cranky is having an excuse.)
The trouble is, kids with energy stuck in the house with Sick Mom is pretty much exactly the same thing as throwing a couple of rabid raccoons into a pillowcase, just for sport. Only not as fun, because you might be able to find someone to bet with you on the winning raccoon and at least maybe get a few bucks out of it, but betting on fighting children is “frowned upon” (or so I’ve been told). And it’s even less fun when you’re spending three quarters of your time in the bathroom, because one of the first things that kids with siblings learn is that the sound of the bathroom door closing behind mom is the official start of Beat the Snot Out of Each Other as Fast and Hard as We Can! time.
When mom has The Sick, it gets all kinds of WWE up in here.
I don’t know why I think I can control the mini-Hunger Games playing out in the living room by the power of my voice alone, I really don’t. I think I’m just so weakened by The Sick that I’m a little delirious. I mean, I’m probably dying here, for real, and the fact that no one cares should really be my first sign that I live in a house full of psychopaths. Hell, they’re probably working for the damned spider. I knew I should have blown this house up. (Disclaimer: I am not going to blow up my house. And if I were going to blow my house up, I’d at least have the sense not to publicly share that I’m planning to do so. Which I’m so not.)
And so this is how I found myself, draped across the tile floor of the bathroom, surrounded by the kids’ most-prized collection of Playmobil bodies and heads (never connected, naturally), on the brink of death and cursing the bad aim of little (or so my husband insists) boys, and coming to the angsty realization that the bloodcurdling screams and rather alarming bangs and crashes echoing around the living room were certainly carrying out the open windows and acting as a “Has someone called CPS yet?” battle cry throughout the neighborhood.
Even though it’s never worked before, even though I was certain it would use the little energy my body had in reserve to keep my heart pumping, I had to try to do something. I have my pride to consider here. So I called, “Hey! Stop hitting each other! Right now!”
Silence. For about three seconds.
Followed immediately by a loud smack! and resumption of screaming.
My blood started to boil. Or maybe it was my gut churning again. Whatever. I was sick, and my kids were misbehaving loudly, and I hated the world.
So I called, a little louder, “I mean it! Stop it right now! Or I will… I will… cancel Christmas!”
This time they didn’t even stop. Bang. Slap. Yell.
It was definitely my gut churning. And my blood boiling. I was pissed. It was time for some serious consequences. It was time to start confiscating toys. I eyeballed the little Playmobil mix-and-match heads that the kids adore so much.
Which is how, on a lovely spring day, all of my neighbors heard me, from the deepest, strongest part of my diaphragm (it’s a muscle, pervs, talk to your high school music teacher), using the loudest, scariest, craziest, most desperate mom scream I could muster, bellow, “IF I HAVE TO GET OFF THIS TOILET TO DRAG YOU TWO OFF OF EACH OTHER, I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL TAKE OFF EVERY SINGLE HEAD IN THIS HOUSE AND PUT THEM WHERE THEY WILL NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN!”
Because it turns out that, that whole “pride” thing? I never really had it in the first place.