Friday, December 31, 2010

The Mirage of Stress-free

I kid myself.

I respond when people ask that it's an awesome thing to have a week where I don't have to worry about the school's caller ID coming over my phone.

Last night, hubby forced me to have a good, long, hard look at this comment.

I'm not complaining; it's been a good week. We have had plenty of outings and meet-ups and downtime and things to do, all I think in a pretty nice balance.

But it has not been stress-free. Not by a long shot. Because every time we go out the door, every time we are in a public place, my back is up and I am ready to deal summary justice to anyone who so much as looks at my children the wrong way.

I wish this were paranoia on my part. When we left friends after an enjoyable lunch outing yesterday, I had a mom make it a point to shadow me all the way to our car (I had actually paused to let her go ahead of me through a snow drift, and she hung back), and let her words to her daughter float ahead to me about what she thought of my kids.

I ordered the boys quickly into the car and shouted to G "QUICK! Close the door! We are surrounded by stupid people!"

I should have snapped a pic of the expression on her face with my phone, but I was too angry and too intent on getting the hell out of that parking lot.

I spent the next hour driving, boys in the back listening to the Arthur CD on the player, deliberately lost in the lower Bucks County snow-covered countryside, calming down, thinking, and wishing I hadn't cussed quite so much in the first five minutes of this particular leg of the journey.

My kids, language police both, know better than to remark on my language after an encounter like that.

And I know they both know that other people's invective is directed at the three of us; them by virtue of who they are and me by virtue of being their mother.

I told my husband that it really didn't matter where we lived; I run into ignorance everywhere, and I feel the need to at best educate and at worst discipline wherever I go.

"I cheated you," I told him. "This is not the girl you started dating 23 years ago."

Sometimes, this fact overwhelms me. I collapse, exhausted, at the end of every day, which for me is 9 pm. Night-owl hubby gets my undivided attention not nearly often enough. But talking to him forced me to analyze the 'why.'

The 'why' is my perpetual state of flight or fight. I do more of the latter these days. I *could* elect to segregate my boys and drop out altogether. But this doesn't work for me; they have to learn to live in this world, and that education is a nonnegotiable.

So, apparently, is the stress.

I thought I managed it okay; after all, I am a stress-eater, and my weight remains well in normal range despite that; I exercise, get the kids out, maintain relationships.

But stress collapses me like a rag doll at the end of every day.

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