I had a minor freak-out episode this morning, resulting in me flopping down face first onto my unmade bed and crying hopelessly.
All because I couldn't hang a picture.
Okay, so it wasn't all the picture. Have you ever been hit with so many disasters and weathered them and weathered them only to be defeated by something incredibly simple, like hitting the "Diet Coke" button on the soda machine when what you really meant to push was "Coke"?
That's pretty much what happened this morning.
The most recent landslide of events began when I got Eliot back from my in-laws last week. For the entire week before that visit, he had been sleeping in his own bed again, with nary a complaint. Two nights with Grandma and PaPa, however, was enough to not only disrupt that pattern, but also make him completely redetermined never to let me sleep alone again. He was having none of the reverse psychology, none of the promises of stickers, none of the threatening, none of the begging and pleading. He was sleeping in my bed, and that was that.
Fine. At this juncture, I am too beleaguered to dig in my heels. He wins. Again. Whatever.
So for the past week, I've been getting little to no sleep due to the toes digging into my side, arms flailing around and hitting me in the face at all hours, and the grinding of little teeth, which by the way, sounds like someone determinedly chewing glass marbles. Oh, the teeth grinding, the teeth grinding! It's worse than nails on a chalkboard, and it occurs directly next to my face. All. night. long.
I also, as I am wont to do, let the dirty dishes build up in the sink until we were completely out of clean spoons and cups. Piles of dishes cluttered the sink, the counter, the stovetop...pretty much every surface area in the kitchen, and they were starting to smell. Probably the smell was coming from the half-full mug of milk that had been abandoned on the counter top three days ago, but I couldn't be sure.
Then, last night, we're sitting on the brand new couch watching Mighty Machines (for at least the twentieth time), when Eliot decides to shift positions in my lap and kicks over a glass of Sprite, which goes splashing and fizzling all over the keyboard of my laptop. Awesome.
So this morning, with my laptop sitting in a frightening state of dis-assembly on the kitchen table, drying out, the keys most likely sticking for good, I decide that by-golly I'm gonna turn this vehicle around! I fill the sink with hot water, throw in the dish soap and start scrubbing my heart out.
With the kitchen debacle addressed, I turn to the blank wall above my couch. I've been waiting forever to hang pictures and artwork because I still haven't found an arrangement for the furniture in the living room that suits my fancy.
I move framed prints around on the floor until I decide I have an arrangement I like, and I go to hammer a nail into the wall. Unfortunately, I get the nail too high, I hang the first picture and automatically hate it, and that's all it takes to send me spiraling into the depths of despair.
I look around at my cluttered, inadequate, unlovely living room and all I can think is that this is not home. I won't ever have a home again. I'm a terrible parent. I don't make Eliot mind because I'm completely ineffective at discipline and he's going to grow up with this awful sense of entitlement and be a lazy, good-for-nothing, mean, terrible man because of me. And I'll never be able to prove that I tried my best and loved him, because I'll lose all the pictures of his childhood that were on my hard drive because I neglected to back up my files because I am lazy and incompetent. I'll never blog again because I can't afford a new laptop.
Hot tears slide down my cheeks and I make my retreat. I lie sideways across my too-small bed that takes up too much space in my tiny bedroom and attempt stillness. My stomach is in knots of restless, anxious, hysterical emotion and I cannot imagine anything ever being okay again.
Somehow, though, from somewhere, I gather the strength to stand back up. I go back to the living room and look around. I don't like what I see. I go into the kitchen and survey my surroundings there. No food to speak of, and the floor is dirty, but the countertops are clean and gleaming dishes are stacked neatly in the drying rack.
I move back into the living room and pick a flat brown paper bag off the top of a pile of magazines, newspapers and other debris on my desk. I take out two vintage flashcards that I bought in Chicago last weekend at this great store, Four-Sided, and I pound a nail through each, securing them to the wall.
The flashcards say, simply, "Keep Going."
And somehow, I do.