And my mood swing on wheels has arrived.
My family made it from Oklahoma to Maryland.
I don’t think I understood how leaving ahead of them, being away just shy of eight weeks, would thrash at my heart. But it did! And it hurt! And it made me cry under my hood on trains among strangers and listen to podcasts about other peoples’ depression while I wondered if mine had returned with a vengeance, readying to crush me.
I’m not sure it did, now that they are here. I’m not sure I hate Christmastime as much as I just said I hated Christmastime roughly five minutes ago.
I think I have to accept that this time of year is going to make me sad and happy, every year.
And I’ll probably be leaning on my family and friends to get through it.
Like – my friends Megan and Will, for instance. Did I mention I have built-in friends who live a mile away? No, I neglected to mention that. Too busy wallowing.
A week ago Saturday they yanked me out of my cocoon of sadness. I’d planned to stay in it and make vegetable soup and cry tears into the pot as a salt substitute. They forced me to go see a Christmas light display. And it was, dare I say, fun. And Megan and I determined Georgetown was not so kid friendly. And that the perma-disdain on some neighborhood faces is pronounced to the point of unintentional comedy.
So, there have been literal bright spots in an otherwise gloomy season.
Somehow my family’s mood swings make my own tolerable.
My mood swing on wheels has returned to me and my children are not so sure about this house.
Our old space wasn’t huge at 1,300 square feet. But now we’re down to 900. For four people.
“WHERE’S THE UPSTAIRS MOMMY?” Eli asked.
“There is none, buddy.”
“I DON’T LIKE THIS HOUSE MOMMY!”
He furrowed his brow and stomped around, flinging here and there a pair of keys.
“I GOTTA LOCK BOX MOMMY WHERE IS IT?
It is in a shipping container on its way to our new house, I told him.
He picked up the keys and threw them into a metal Lincoln Log container. It emitted a tinny clang. Unsatisfied, he kicked it for good measure. A deep gong rang throughout the tiny house.
Laila was no more impressed. She’d been nonchalant about the move.
But after walking into the house and giving it a cursory glimpse, she sat down on one of the few pieces of furniture scattered around – a gray midcentury rescue chair.
“I don’t have any friends,” she said. “I’m scared to start school.”
“You’ll make friends, sweetie. And we’ll go with you and show you your new school. I know its scary but we will help you get through it.”
I pulled her onto my lap and gave her a squeeze. Her tummy hurt, she said, frowning.
Then Mark and the kids agreed the kitchen smelled bad.
Which was weird- because I can’t smell anything at all in there, but vaguely remember thinking the same thing upon move-in.
Laila perked up. She put on a string of performances that included a rap about a Tic Tac, followed by a competition of dueling animal impersonations, followed by a game of beauty salon.
“Laila, you’re really handling the move like champ, but if you want to be sad, it’s OK. Mommy will always listen.”
“We’ve just got to move on, Mommy, she said. “Everyone we left behind, they’re in my heart.”
This morning the kids noticed our new house lacks a fireplace.
“Santa won’t find it,” Eli said.
We made one out of cardboard and poster paint. (Thx for the poster paint grandma and grandpa!)
“Are you sure he can get in there?”
“Yes, Eli, he’s going to turn it into a real fireplace like magic,” Laila answered, turning to me.
“Mommy,” Laila said, dropping her paint brush. “I feel sick. I’m gonna throw up: Can I throw up?”
“Sure – and you don’t need my permission.”
pitter … patter … hurl
This time of year will never be perfect. Maybe the problem is not this time of year at all, but what we expect it to be.