It’s Thursday afternoon and the ideas presented for dinner have all been snubbed.
I’m cooking anyway. Chicken broccoli and rice again(?!) because no one has a better idea and I like it. The car is a mess with everyone else’s trash. I’ve thrown away yet another half empty fizzy water on my way to take a sticky bowl and stale bag of open chips to the trash. Whose crusty shorts and undies are these in MY bathroom next to the hamper? The short list of chores assigned to all these people who live here goes undone. What is going on here? I feel a familiar heat in my chest rising. I’ve shopped and thought and maneuvered to keep this bubble of a comfortable situation floating.
Don’t burst, please don’t burst.
Excuse me, my inner monologue begins, why am I angry cooking this healthy meal for people who just want to go get ice cream or show up with a full stomach of fried somethings and not eat anyway? Why is my laboring not working? Why isn’t anyone marveling at my efforts?
Look at my face, please pick up your trash.
If you see a need around this house just fill it.
With wild eyes, EAT WHAT I’VE MADE YOU and spare me the commentary.
I’m officially feeling stabby!!
Welp, that turned from inside thoughts straight into snarling out loud…loudly.
These people are still emotional, worried, tired, arguing, bored, *gasp* hungry. Don’t they see that I’ve already emotionaled, worried, rested and argued every possibility FOR them. Can’t you see that I’m holding my breath and my head jussssst right so this bubble won’t burst? Maybe if they eat a healthy home cooked meal made by a loving grumbling mom all of their woes would dissipate. Humph.
I’m mad. For sure, discouraged. EVERY decision I’ve made for the past twenty years has been to keep this bubble soaring and reflecting pretty colors. Pretending it’s not fragile because look at it go! I am a well-educated, restrained in my reactions, considerate, people pleasing machine. My decisions revolve around keeping myself settled and healthy so that I can love and serve the ones I love with ease.
“Um, mom, are you okay?” “Why don’t you let me take over.” “We’ve got this” “I want to give you a hug” “Why don’t you go lay down?”
It’s never about dinner! Typically, it’s about a month’s worth of little digs that have made me feel not considered or seen. Communication is not my strong suite so it has taken years and years to figure out that the more I can let the people who love and support me know what my thoughts are and how I’m feeling the better off everyone is. How can any of these people learn and shift unless I teach them how and tell them how their actions make me feel? Am I surrounded by mind readers? No, I am not.
Seems like the real distraction is not the bubble at all but the false sense of control. If I keep everyone’s comfort levels just right then the world will be able to continue to rotate. The audacity of perfectionism peeking out again. Why in the world would someone not picking up their trash or scoffing at dinner make me spiral into a PowerPoint presentation of all the things I’VE ACCOMPLISHED ALL THE THINGS I’VE DONE FOR YOU AND EVERYONE AND THE WORLD???
I must communicate, sometimes on repeat, how you telling me that I don’t love you, even in jest, makes me feel when I’m really trying to see a need and fill it. If you could say, I want to spend time with you instead that would be easier for me to manage. When you leave napkins on the table and countertop, I worry I have failed you in this life and that you think the prison guards will be picking up after you. If the laundry basket isn’t visible to you, yet the dirties end up exactly NEXT to it, I have concern for future relationships that happen outside of this house, and we need to go to the eye doctor.
It’s in the spiraling where I see that broccoli for dinner again(?!), a fizzy water can, or a questioning side eye are not the real issues. The real dig is that I am the holder of the bubble wand! Which means I absolutely have great responsibility for all these people, and it takes focus to be sure I don’t get sidetracked with turning stabby over crusty undies. I get to keep learning and trying to make solutions that can create bigger, better, more flexible bubbles that last until it’s time to try again. Enduring the try try again can be so so hard.
The reality is that the most rewarding moment of watching a bubble float is right as it burst. After that the anticipation is gone and the worry subsides. Sure, the whimsy of the short-lived moment is gone but I get to blow another one, try again, giggle at its beauty and watch it as long as it lasts. I don’t get to control how far it floats but I do get to control how many times I step back and try again.
In retrospect it’s not really about the bubble at all but the people who are with me, enjoying watching it shine, hoping with me that it will go on forever, then prompting me to dip that wand again when it doesn’t. The real sparkle is in the burst when I’ve lost it and these lovies respond with “Um, mom, are you okay?” “Why don’t you let me take over.” “We’ve got this” “I want to give you a hug”.
Hmmmm, maybe I am considered. Maybe I can retire that tired PowerPoint and start with communicating better next time.
Okay, I will try again.