The past few weeks, particularly the past few days have been hard. Really hard. My anxiety and depression have been spiking up and down due to constant changes in routine. Our sex drives almost disappeared, and if you’ve been following along, you know that’s a really big deal.
It’s not even anything big that’s happening. Just little things. Lots and lots of little, mild annoyances that mean nothing by themselves, but compounded upon each other make it seem like it’s not worth crawling out from under the blanket in the morning. If you’ve been following me on twitter, you’ve been seeing tiny glimpses of this.
And now I’m going to tell you what’s happened. I’m telling you for the same reason I write Bedroom Misadventures: to show that we’re not some amazing sex deities. We’re real people that struggle with real problems like everyone else. OK, we might have more orgasms than the average person, but that aside…
It all started with company coming over for the holidays. A lot of company. Husband and I are both introverts by nature and the extra stress of having to be so social with so many people left us snapping at each other. When they left after several days, we had something of a stress hangover.
Two days after they departed, I took my kids in to see their pediatrician. The office is a couple of towns over, and you have to travel a very busy highway to get there. Did I mention I suffer from anxiety? I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that. My anxiety was compounded when I encountered a flagman that was waving a red flag in a movement that was something of a combination of what you’d think means stop and waving me on. Which is it??? I slowed down and he nodded at me as I passed, so I must have chosen the right one.
On the way home I was feeling good. Accomplished. Awesome, even. I was less than 3 miles from home, waiting to make a left turn at a red light. There was a truck next to me in the other turn lane, also turning left. The green arrow came, I proceeded to make my turn, when 3/4 of the way through it, there was a honk behind me. I looked up in my mirror and saw the truck had started his turn, but stopped short. The next thing I saw was a car blowing his red light at 50mph, slipping between me and the truck, and missing us both by a few inches.
I did mention the anxiety, right?
Later that day I had to take our elderly dog into the groomers, kids in tow. The kids decided this was not a day to listen to anyone or anything at all, the dog decided she wasn’t budging and I had to fight with her to get in and out of the car, and had to carry her into the groomers. Mild annoyance, but nothing compared to the red light runner.
The next day was the coldest day we’d had in years, but our younger dog, a puppy, really, needed to see his vet and visit the groomers himself. I took the kids to school, scarfed breakfast, and loaded the holy-crap-how-much-did-you-grow puppy into the car. I got in myself only to find the car wouldn’t start. I tried again. And tried and tried and tried. With full rage starting to creep in, I instant messaged Husband to ask what to do, as I know less about cars than Jon Snow. He tried to walk me through trouble shooting the problem (I would later find out that he had a whole group of guys around his desk that were offering advice). On the coldest day of the year, me without gloves, a few tears, and an hour and a half later, we had diagnosed the problem. And nothing could be done about it for several days. Later that afternoon, I realized there was nothing really to eat for lunch unless I got REALLY creative, and no way to pick anything up because, well, car.
That day, the puppy was a freaking train wreck. Trying to jump on and off the furniture, nipping, picking at the older dog, taunting the dogs from next door, trying to pick a fight with a plastic sheet that was clearly a monster, slipping out the back door and having to be chased down, and more. It is normal for his age, but it just compounded the frustration.
When the kids got home that day, they were wild. Now don’t misunderstand me, when you see my kids in a group of other kids, you’ll notice mine are generally the best behaved. But something about this day made them go nuts. Homework went incomplete. They yelled. They fought each other. In the end, I took away all electronics.
By the time Husband got home, I was clearly frazzled. He made a temporary fix to my car that would hopefully hold until the weekend, and took the puppy to the vet for me. He knew me, and knew that I was at my wits end. I can’t tell you how much I loved him in that moment.
The next day our tempers were running high again. Dinner was a disaster and we both went to separate parts of the house to cool off. We knew it wasn’t each other we were frustrated with so took a time out. An hour later, we reconvened, made our apologies, and talked about what was really wrong. We both agreed that it’s just these little things that keep piling up.
The next morning, I was awoken at 3am by our youngest child, who told me that the older dog had peed in his room. OK, no big deal. I threw on a robe and went to take care of it. When I turned the light on, I found it wasn’t pee. The dog had gotten stressed out from all the tension and had diarrhea all over the room. It took half an hour to clean up, and when I went back to bed I laid there for a long time, mind spinning with all the things that had happened, all the things I had left to do, everything that was coming.
I blinked, it was 6:30am, and Husband was nudging me awake. He got up, I followed.
“Let’s see what horrors today holds,” I said.
“Now, that’s no way to start the day!” he said.
As I got the kids ready for school, I remembered I had to go to an awards ceremony that morning for my youngest. I pounded down breakfast as fast as I could, while answering my ever curious older child’s questions about God, the universe, animals, and language.
I got the kids to school and settled in for the awards. After a while, the ceremony ended, and my son had not been called. I approached his teacher, and before I said anything [sidenote: I’m not a helicopter parent. I’m not an angry parent. I wasn’t coming to criticize. I was coming to say good-bye to my young one before heading back home, and offer him comfort if necessary] she immediately shrugged and said she didn’t know what happened. It turns out there was a mistake in someone’s paperwork somewhere, but try explaining that to a very young child that looks like he may burst into tears.
Upon returning home, there was more puppy training as he decided the older dog’s ears look tasty. She disagrees. After a few hours of that, he thankfully laid down for his morning nap. I turned to my computer to check my messages when I heard a *snap snap snap* noise. I turned towards the puppy and saw that he had gotten hold of my older son’s brand new game controller that he bought with his own money. The cord now has holes in it.
And this, dear friends, is why we do things like at-home spa nights. It’s why we bathe together. It’s why we strictly enforce bedtimes for the kids. We’re not running into big things. It’s these little things. Tiny things that stress us just enough to change our mood. When we encounter enough of those, everything suddenly seems terrible. Now look back at that list of everything that had gone wrong. Even I can see that none of those things were big deals. But it all seems so big at the time.
At the end of it all, we can curl up with each other, say, “Today sucked. Let’s try again tomorrow,” and just be there. We can tell each other that everything really is going to be OK.