What’s it called when a veteran has a moment where s/he suddenly remembers what it felt like to be in combat and the fight or flight response kicks in?
Post-traumatic stress disorder?
Because people. I can empathize.
Let me tell you a little story.
I have been insanely busy for the past month. Busy to the point that I cried myself to sleep last night about being overwhelmed and feeling alone in my overwhelmedness.
(I’m not alone. Dan’s here. But sometimes I, the chronic oversharer, become an itnernalizer, which makes me feel alone.)
I drove over to pick Joshua up from daycare (after deciding not to go to McDonald’s for a caramel frappe as big as my head because of the calories) and realized there would be trouble as soon as I saw his daily report sheet.
Just like that. In all caps not awesome. Screaming at my face about how my kid didn’t nap. With the exclamation points. (But he did pee in the potty twice, so there’s that.)
He had also only eaten 1 granola bar, some Cheerios, peaches, and some crackers all day, along with some milk at meals and water at snack times.
And then I looked in his room. He was playing trains. Intently. Carefully. Trains. His favorite.
He didn’t even realize I’d walked into the room despite the fact that his teacher and his toddler friends were all announcing my presence. He just kept playing trains.
Finally, he saw me and came over to give me a hug. And then his toddler friends vultured his trains right off their tracks. Which made him incredibly unhappy, as you can imagine.
He began to wail. I tried to pick him up. He screamed. His teacher looked like he had suddenly become possessed by the Devil. I picked him up completely off the floor. He continued to wail. And scream. And scream some more. And cry.
And yell “I NO NEED MY MAMA!!”
(Gee. Thanks for that kid.)
We struggled all the way to the car where he began to hit me. And scream about how he didn’t need me. And put up a fight to get into his car seat complete with kicking and more screaming.
He let out an “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!” except the high-pitched squeal that I don’t know how to type. And I, frustrated over the past five minutes, screamed back. (Because apparently I’m 3.) Which made him cry more.
Then he took his shoes off in defiance. And demanded that I put them back on. I did that once before pulling out of the driveway at daycare. And then he took them right back off and cried more and more about needing to put his shoes back on.
I sent an emergency
text smoke signals to Dan to tell him please for the love of Baby Jesus in the manger don’t work late tonight and come home post haste because I am two shakes away from completely losing my shit and I if I lose my shit it will be ugly.
(I was maybe slightly less dramatic than that.)
We got about three miles down the road and he was still screaming and the tears rose in my throat and I lost it. I started to cry. In that moment, I remembered what it had been like to be me at 2 and 3 and 4 months postpartum with a child in the backseat screaming his lungs out and me being able to do not a single thing to console him so I just drove around crying my own eyes out while he did the same.
I had the Ugly Cry Face and tears were streaming and I was kind of shoulder-heaving a little bit.
Joshua, from the back seat, shouts, “No, YOU don’t crying! I CRYING.”
Because that was helpful. Loads.
And I kept crying.
And then I hear, somewhat softer, with less tears, “No, don’t cry, Mama. No. It’s okay, Mama. Don’t cry.”
(MELT MY HEART.)
And just like that, his crying had stopped. My tears were magic tears that stopped his tears. Like I took them away from him or something. Some supernatural Mama-Love-Transference or something.
We both agreed that we wouldn’t cry anymore.
And we didn’t.
We rode home calm. Emotionally spent. Quiet. Conquerors of the NO NAP-induced meltdown.
At least until bath time when there was a Category 294920 meltdown that had me counting down the days until I am reunited with my friend Sauvignon Blanc.