I took Fruit Bat and Kitty Cat to a pumpkin patch yesterday. The sky was low and gray, the weather nondescript. No breeze. No raindrops. Nothing except a nip in the air.
And my children? They couldn't have been better. More cooperative. More precious.
It was quiet, the pumpkin patch, but there were a few other small groups. One was a mother with three toddlers. She was overwhelmed. Beyond overwhelmed. She reminded me of myself last Saturday. The abundant mud drove her nuts. Her kids could do nothing right. They were too loud, too exuberant, too dirty. While part of me wanted to send her telepathic messages to relax and remember that outside, on a farm for God's sake, was the perfect place for whooping and getting grimy, another part of me understood completely.
There are days (weeks, months) when you're at your limit and attempting an outing of that magnitude puts you over the edge. You do it, because you think the kids will enjoy it and that you should, after all, take them to a pumpkin patch in October. When what you really ought to do is find help so you can sit in a bean bag chair with a giant mug of something hot. Alone.
As I watched her, and listened to her (dear dog, did I have to listen to her) I felt so much on the other side of my foul mood Saturday. Like I actually had a choice to embrace my good fortune or not. Last weekend, there was no choice. I was at the bottom of a well. As close as I ever come to depression.
I've made no secret of the fact that weekends are hard for me. That J. and I often fall into a strange groove of deferring to the other or fighting for control of how the household will run. Last weekend was a little (okay a lot) of both. Less symbiotic and more judgmental and argumentative. That's not how either of us want to be. And then there are the kids, wanting and needing me, when what I crave is a day to move at my own pace.
One thing, too, I never considered about motherhood, when I was young and considering motherhood, was that it would turn me into a nag. Not even nagging J. really. While we have our issues, I don't think nagging is on his list of what bugs him about me. But nagging the kids. To brush their teeth and get dressed and eat and clear dishes and turn off lights and wash their own damn grapes because I'm tired of being in the kitchen. I never thought of myself as nit-picky and annoying, but that's often what I feel I've become. I hate that particular version of myself.
Maybe the woman at the pumpkin patch was thinking the same thing: I hate being like this, yet I can't stop because it's kind of a vortex that sucks you in and how will these kids survive if I don't protect them from the dirt and untied shoes and their own exhilaration?
All I know for sure is that the pumpkin patch did the opposite for me. It helped save me from that Angie. I got to hang with my kids and let them get grungey and yell and run. And I enjoyed every second of it.