Sunday, August 16, 2015

A mother on the edge in Vacationland

The squabbling had reached a crescendo. Vacation wasn't even halfway over and already the meter on flailing tempers had run out.

Mostly, it seemed, the meter had run out on mine.

It always starts innocuously enough. A little theatrical play put on by vacationing cousins. The stage has a rumpled bedspread. The costumes are fashioned out of moth-eaten table cloths. When the plot meanders -- as it traditionally tends to do in these homemade productions – and the smaller of the relatives get antsy, the advice to break a leg, all of a sudden sounds literal.

Arguments escalate.

Growling starts.

Punches aren't pulled.

Timeouts become cease-and-desist orders.

Over and over it goes, rolling like waves in an ocean that is childhood.

As a parent, I try to make everyone happy. But it soon becomes clear that I am fighting a losing battle. As a parent, I feel, I have failed.

All along, my decisions have lacked decisiveness. I had tried to balance the waves while the middle ground I'd hoped to occupy eroded away.

And then the whole ocean seemed to crash over me.

Someone, I suppose, had to step in. But when that someone was my husband -- the man, who, up until this point had reaped heaps of praise for grilling the meals that I had prepared and washed up -- something inside me broke.

The words had come out of his mouth like legal decree from someone almighty.

Decision made. The end. All that's left is for him to dusts his own hands and turn on his heels and for everything else to fall into step behind him.

Only there was a wake from this top-down decree, and in it was a building storm and an open convertible waiting for the rains to come pouring inside.

I wanted to scream.

In my head I could hear the crystal-shattering notes as they headed straight for the intended target.

But when I looked around I saw a roomful of uncomfortable faces -- some of whom were probably wishing they were playing "Barbies" in the next room instead of watching me lose my bearings in the land of adulthood -- nothing came out but three overly calm words: “I am done.”

I'm not doing this anymore.

I'm not smoothing anything over. I'm not making anything nice. I don't want to be the monkey in the middle.

If this keeps up I'll end up just being the monkey slinging poo.

I am done being a referee.

I can't make everyone get along. I can't force Tab A to fit into Slot, B and I don't understand why we have to fix it to begin with. Hand the kids a roll of transparent tape and they will revel in their own handiwork.

So what if it's ugly?

So what if it breaks?

They can go right ahead and fix it all by themselves. They will use chewing gum or spit or the whole roll of tape. And in the end it will be a mess or a masterpiece of their own creation.

The credit will be all theirs.

Because I'm done. I'm off the clock. I'm not taking any calls.

Leave a message after the beep, I'll talk to you next week.

When I'm back from vacation.

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