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When You Are Tightly Wound

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It is the unwashed dishes. The dirty kitchen sink. The four baskets of clean laundry being scattered over the crumb-flavored carpet by a drunk toddler.

The kids aren't eating enough vegetables. I'm not eating enough vegetables. I can't remember the last time I actually scrubbed the bathroom floor. There are tiny balls of my hair in every corner of the house. I always say I'm going to organize all the papers on my desk but I never, ever do.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store for the fifth time in one week. This is either a sign of hopeless irresponsibility or early onset dementia. I never remember to buy honey.

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Somehow there is something on the calendar every day for the next six weeks. Last month I bought a pack of 22 baby hair clips. There are only seven left. It all feels very tragic.

A list of unfinished projects sits on the stack of Martha Stewart magazines I never read. I want to paint the living room but I don't know how to paint a living room.

Every week or so someone texts me, "How is your writing going?"

*****

Sometimes I fantasize about falling into a drainage ditch and slipping into a mild coma for a little while.

This could be great for two reasons:

1) Easy weight loss
2) An excuse to not be writing

No one walks up to someone who has fallen into a drainage ditch and asks, "How is your writing going?"

Or maybe they do. I guess it could be good writing material.

*****

It happens every night. Twelve hours of parenting have passed, the kids are finally in bed, and I feel the weight of it all on my chest.

Austin will suggest we go to bed. We need more rest! But I cannot go to bed. I am too tightly wound.

Anyone who has parented a human for more than five minutes has felt the coils of the day wrapping around their insides, making the chest tight and the stomach hungry for nachos. By 9 p.m., I have no words left. I just want to sit in the dark, watch Michael Scott, and not have to think any intelligent thoughts.

Shark tank idea: a service that comes to your house, gives you a glass of wine, 10 minutes of uninhibited dancing, then rubs your back until you fall asleep. (That or someone who just shows up to play with your hair while you binge-watch Orange Is The New Black).

A service specifically built to help us unwind.

*****

It is late, nearly 11 p.m., but I can't go to bed yet. I pour a glass of water and watch Jim propose to Pam. I take deep breaths and text a friend about her newlywed life and a mama about her newborn life and my sister about the time that thing happened and it's fine.

There is a lot of mom-shaming around these days, despite our best efforts to cover it up with positive op-ed pieces on The Huffington Post. Disdain for the working mothers, the home mothers, the breastfeeding or formula or unvaccinated mothers. We shame ourselves into thinking we're the only ones who are overwhelmed, who cry in the bathroom, who sit in the grocery store parking lot as a "vacation."

There is no moral to this story except: I see you. I see you out of the corner of my eye feeling tightly wound and it's OK. Find 30 minutes of silence and remember two things:

1) We are lucky to have kids and most of our organs and dental floss.
2) You hid dark chocolate in the freezer. You can eat it now.

*****

The toddler is potty trained without really being potty trained and the house has a faint smell of urine.

The baby smells like a cheesesteak and I still haven't unpacked from last month's trip but it's OK.

It is so old news and cliche and irreparably optimistic, but I'm going to say it again. We are in this together. You and me and the 42-year-old mother at the library who has finally had that baby after 12 years of trying but still feels tightly wound at the end of the day.

I don't like to make friends at the library because I'm a jumpy introvert, but this mama did not give me a choice and left me with some words I'm carrying around with me this week.

She said, "Isn't it funny how parenting works out? It's just so loud, even when they are asleep. You can never turn parenting off. It's a good thing it's what we always wanted, isn't it?"

Press on.

*****

This post originally appeared on Kate Baer's blog.

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