Consolation Prize Compliment

I don’t always want to tell the truth. I don’t always want to come here and spill myself for you to see, to bare my insides like they are the most casual of outsides, an ankle or a shoulder; but if I am cherry picking the parts you get to see, if I am not sharing it all, then what is the point of sharing any?

I don’t want to talk about how this week went; about how the parenting moments that would normally be frustrating and patience bending because moments of yelling and climbing rage, sometimes once a day and sometimes four or five times. I don’t want to talk about how many times I had to crouch in front of my four-year old daughter and apologize for my behavior and my words, while still feeling the adrenaline coursing through my body; about the time she cried “Mommy! You just said sorry and now you’re yelling again! How am I going to believe you are sorry if you just yell at me again right away?” I don’t want to tell you that by Thursday she just laughed at me when I raged at her angrily; we both knew when I was out of control I think.

I want to tell you that those moments were snippets in a day of normal life and, for my children, they were. Awful, angry snippets, indeed, but tucked in around play time and dance parties and secret forts and crafts and baking. Yet, my insides trembled; my anxiety shook me and every nerve was on high alert. Irritation ran high, though I was able to keep it mostly suppressed until the moments it snapped. And then I began to forget my words, I couldn’t keep track of my sentences and stories, my brain felt like it was melting. I kept going back to the box where I keep my pre-sorted medicine, carefully set out for the week every Sunday morning, to check and make sure I had taken the morning and evening dose as usual and every time, of course, I had.

It wasn’t until Thursday night, lying in bed nursing Miss Almost Two, the struggles of the week weighing heavily on my mind, that my brain did me the kind favor of letting me in on the secret. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself at the counter after dinner, reaching for the med box and opening the Thursday pm compartment, glancing in, pouring the contents into my hand and looking down to see three pills. Three. There are supposed to be four. One small blue pill was missing.

Clarity struck as my heart sank. I had sorted my medicine incorrectly on Sunday. All week long I had been missing the medicine specifically responsible for helping to manage my irritability and anger; and not only that, at this point, five days in, I was nearly done with the process of withdrawal. This terrible week of pressured days and awful parenting, this feeling of brain rot and building terror that I was clearly and surely getting worse was brought on by myself. Human error of the worst kind, with the most innocent of victims. And, the icing on the cake, this week is the very last week of winter vacation before I head back to college full time.

Adding the missing medication back into the schedule is the easy part. In a matter of hours it began to do its good work. Harder, though, are the conversations I’m having with myself on the inside; convincing myself that these incidences, as infrequent as they may be now, won’t someday negatively color the whole of my children’s lives when they look back. It’s a story I’m not buying.

“My mother was amazing, when she was on her meds” is a consolation prize I’d hoped to avoid. It appears it’s the one I’ll have to learn to love.

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