Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

You Seem So Happy on Facebook

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

This post has been bubbling up for a while, and it’s not anything that hasn’t been said before. This is a post about perception and image. It’s about the face we put on for the world, and about the assumptions we make about others’ lives based on the face they choose to put on every day.

I talked to my close friend Camille for hours the other day. She is one of those prized and dear friends that knows me in and out, and whom I can go without talking to for months and then call and pick up as if we never skipped a beat. We have talked about it all over the years – boys, music, dreams, addiction, sexuality, marriage, fertility, friendship, siblings, parental relationships, and death. She has been through her rough spots, and I have been through mine. She’s currently in a great place. If you read my blog in the past year, you will know that I am in a rough spot that feels like being caught in the trough of a wave; I occasionally see over the horizon of the cresting wave, but mostly i feel like I am stranded in the trough, trying to get to the top of the wave so that I can see out in all directions. I’m treading water. I have good days and bad days. I have good minutes and bad minutes. I have laughter and tears, and laughter through tears. I’m working on it. I am a work in progress.

When I told Camille that things were okay, but not the best, she seemed genuinely surprised. “Wow. I had no idea things hadn’t gotten better. You seem so happy on Facebook.”

You seem so happy on Facebook.

How many times have you heard someone say that? Or “They seemed so happy.” “Her life seems so perfect.”I bet her house is never messy.”

I have always enjoyed Facebook. I guess I’m addicted. There are things I hate about it, but its strengths outweigh its weaknesses. I use it often to quickly chronicle things my kids do that I just want to put down in writing so i don’t forget. I stay in touch with family. I get to see and stay in touch with people that I never thought I would see again 15 years ago. I reconnected with and stay in touch with childhood friends i haven’t seen since moving in 4th grade, people from high school that i always liked but never would have kept up with otherwise, and college friends who have gone their separate ways, but whom i get to witness doing amazing things and living precious lives right in front of my eyes. Without Facebook, so many of you reading this would only be a sweet or funny memory. You would still be 7 or 17, or 27 years old in my mind’s eye. Instead, you are real people with real lives that continue with time; You grow, you change, you become things that I never imagined you would be. You often wow and amaze me.

I always get a little frustrated with people who hate Facebook because it ends up making them feel bad about themselves. It makes me happy to see old faces, to connect with new friends and learn more about them, and to follow bands and authors and comedians that I like. I don’t look at other people’s lives and think, “Wow. I really need to get my kids into more activities. Mine only play one instrument, know one language, play one sport.” “Wow, look how happy they look. They really have the perfect marriage.” “I wish my skin looked like hers.” “She must work out all the time. I wish I had a personal trainer.” “Why didn’t they invite me to lunch?” “Why didn’t they invite me to that party?” I guess it’s a matter of self-esteem for some. I haven’t had trouble with self-esteem since early high school. One day I just realized comparing myself to others was too exhausting.

There’s more to this, though. Not just the fact that we often compare ourselves to others, but the fact that we assume that the pretty family photo on the beach is that family’s life. Life is not a beach. Life is messy, and full of things that go unsaid. And honestly, we don’t really want to hear all the messy details. We want the pretty.

The perfect meals, pretty front doors, the crafts, and art, and jokes and music. The beautiful, smiling children. The wedding gowns. The couples who look as in love in photos today as they did 20 years ago. So for those who are comparing themselves to others, and thinking they wished their lives looked more like someone else’s, they need to remind themselves of what people don’t say on Facebook. It’s their anniversary. Of course they will wish each other a happy anniversary with a pretty wedding photo of the glowing newlyweds. You don’t not wish your spouse happy birthday, or happy anniversary, or “Congratulations! I am so proud of you for working so hard to get that new job.” You do all those things. We see them all, and we compare ourselves to them, but what are the things that are being left unsaid?

They don’t much talk about how depressed they are, or how confusing their sex life has become to them. Unless they are me. (I kid. Kind of.)

You tell your brother you love him on his birthday. Even if he knew about the treatment you had growing up all those years. Even though he never spoke up about it or acknowledges it now. It’s all there between you, but only the two of you see it.

You smile for the family photo in front of a Christmas tree, even though you know you are leaving your spouse after January 1st. It is just easier to smile. Your sister is smiling, too, even though she knows and it is still a secret. What else can she do? No one wants to ruin Christmas.

You post all those photos about your vegetable garden, or your love of yoga, or how much you ran that morning and what a high you got from those endorphins. None of your Facebook friends know that you absolutely need those endorphins, or the sunshine and dirt, or the deep breathing, just to make it through another day of the emotional desert that your life has become. The running, and flowers, and downward facing dog might be all that person has in the world that gives them joy.

The one who posts nothing but photos of her kids. What you don’t see: She is miserable and hasn’t had sex with her husband in over a year and doesn’t have the financial means, or the will to leave, or doesn’t want to hurt her children.

What an amazing handbag that person just bought. It’s beautiful. What you don’t see: She is $20,000 in debt.

Wow, those two couples seem like the best of friends. What we don’t see: Last night, two of them made out at a party. And not with their spouse.

The friend who travels and works, and lives in that amazing downtown loft with the view and seems to have the most fabulous life. She is lonely. She cries herself to sleep, thinking she will always be alone and never find someone to love, and wonders why she is so defective.

Can’t wait to see the new Marvel movie! What we don’t see. He is just thinking, how do i voice my worry to my depressed girlfriend? I love her and i want her to be happy, and I don’t know how to help her.

The person who cracks the jokes, posts the cat videos. . . what are they hiding? Bulimia, depression, heartbreak, divorce, addiction, that they hate their body, or wish they were dead, or hate their spouse of 50 years and wishes they would just go ahead and die, or the fact that they found out about their spouse’s affair and they’re just keeping it quiet for the sake of the kids, their own affair, the cancer diagnosis, their realization that they are gay, but can’t say it yet, the infertility, the impotence, the fears and guilt about their children, that they cried themselves to sleep because their mother does not remember their name, or the fact that they still haven’t gotten over their mother or father’s or dog’s death. These are real examples of things people have told me. People who confided in me, but who, if you looked at their Facebook profiles, seem pretty happy.  I cannot even begin to imagine the breadth of untold secret pain of so many people who seem so happy on Facebook.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is being left unsaid. A few people have told me, “I wish you would post more, blog more. I miss your writing.” What a wonderful compliment that is to me. I take it as such, but the truth is, there are often things that I leave unsaid. There are many reasons for omitting the dark, painful, brutal truths. I want to try and be positive. Focus on the good things. Be grateful for the beautiful moments. I don’t want to be a sad downer. As my mama taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I don’t always take that lesson to heart, but i try sometimes. And so I write less. I post less.

A lot of y’all are probably thinking, “I thought she said everything. She says things that I could never say. I have always admired her brutal honesty and her ability to say the things I think, but don’t have the courage to say.” Writing this down, it sounds arrogant, but it is true, because people tell me this all the time. “Thank you for saying what I wanted to say, but was scared to say.” “I totally agreed with you on xyz, but I would never have said it in public.” What can I say. I have a big mouth, and I value the truth above almost all else.

Almost all else. I also value people’s privacy, their feelings, and my loved ones. There are so many things I don’t say because it might be painful to someone I know or love. Or because to say it would destroy everything. Or would be giving in to the darkness, and giving up. And so there is a framework to social media platforms like Facebook. There are things we really cannot say out loud. Even me.

When people ask me how I’m doing, I say okay. This is not a lie. They sometimes seem surprised that I am not completely fine now. I am better than I was. I am hopeful. I am trying to be more content in the moment, to slow down and enjoy the little things. I am trying to be grateful, and live in the moment. Those little contentments and momentary joys are the face I put on for the world.

But I still have some depression. I am still confused about a lot of things in life. I know that some things will not get better, that many things are a compromise, that so much of it is out of my control, and that the only surety is change. I am anxious about the unknown factors and variables in mine and my family’s life. I sometimes worry myself sick about friends, about my career choices, and about my marriage and family. I often feel like I’ve failed in promises to myself about what I want in life, about the things i planned to do but never did. I doubt my decisions. I wring my hands, don’t sleep, don’t eat, binge eat bowls of shame, drink too much. I keep things inside because I don’t want to cause others pain. I wake up sweating with my heart pounding about things I would never voice on Facebook, or on this blog. And I know I am not alone.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my 40s, it’s that we are all just children masquerading as adults. We hurt and yearn and cry and wish like children. We have situations that seem insurmountable, endings that are inevitable, situations that make us feel stuck in concrete, and which break our hearts. We never know quite what someone else is going through. We never really know what someone’s childhood was like, or what demons they battle, what road they have walked to get where they are, or what confusing crossroads they are at right this moment. The biggest lesson I have learned so far is that things are not always what they seem. We never know what is going on in someone else’s life, and that maybe it’s best not to judge someone unless we’ve walked their path. Chances are each person is on some journey of his or her own, one that might be slightly more or less difficult, more or less apparent, or just really different than our own.

So, the next time you are thinking, “They seem so happy,” think twice about it. Few of us live perfect lives.

p.s. If you do live a charmed or magical life, please list all your secrets for achieving perfection in the comments. All of them.


Update: Just wanted to add a big “Thank you” to all of you who shared my post. I take that as a huge compliment and it really means the world to me.

What is the Point?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I have been a little down lately. Might be the weather, or hormones (bitches!). I really wanted to go to the lake this weekend and the weather was awful, so we ditched the idea and stayed home. The kids were kind of driving me crazier, and everything and everyone were kind of getting on my nerves, for simply existing. I felt, as my sis and I say, that i was so sick of everything that i was getting on my own nerves.

It didn’t help that i had three days of upset stomach, and I didn’t run all week. The more I put off the long run, the more stressed out I became, the more guilt I felt, and the more worthless I felt; it becomes a vicious cycle. If I exercise consistently, I get the endorphins, which are simply and purely an antidepressant for me, and I don’t drown the kids in the bathtub. If I get sick, or life gets in the way and I can’t exercise, I feel down. I totally have withdrawal, as if from a drug, and the cycle continues. I feel down and depressed and know that if I exercise, I will feel better, but I am too depressed to get off the couch and do it.

Even after my stomach was better, i was putting off the run, feeling depressed, and then cranky and depressed because i wasn’t running. It’s very hard to explain to you if you don’t fight depression, or if you don’t ever exercise. (And yes, I realize that exercise doesn’t cure all depression – I am lucky in that my depression is not completely debilitating. I get blue, but I function. I know some folks are not that lucky.)

Oh, the negative self-talk came out in force. I came up with a million reasons not to go run:

  • It’s too cold.
  • I don’t have time to finish.
  • We will never get the house cleaned before our friends come over for dinner.
  • I can’t finish the laundry if I am not at home.
  • I feel guilty leaving Todd with the kids.
  • Ad nauseum.
  • Luckily, my husband has been told numerous times to remind me how much better I feel when I work out and he finally told me yesterday, as I revealed a litany of reasons i shouldn’t, to “GO. Just GO.

    And so I went. I should have just walked out the door, and ran at home, but i got it into my head that it was cold outside, and i went to the gym instead. Six miles on the dreadmill.

    Yeah, that’ll cheer anyone up. Not.

    A little background – My friend Megan convinced me (bugged and badgered me?) to run a half-marathon with her, even though we only had 8 weeks to train and I had not been running a lot when we started. I told her that I would train with her until I injured myself, which is apt to be any time now, since we are adding a mile to our long runs every week, which is obviously too much, too fast. So, I told her we would finish, but i was not going to be fast. I figure if I am adding that much mileage, I am not going to make it worse by being fast. This attitude may be seen as cautiousness, fear, fat runner negative self-talk, or self-preservation. It is most likely a little bit of each.

    So, there I am, on the treadmill, running my tortuously slow miles. The frustrating part about being a fat, slow runner is that you are, as mentioned before, slow. So, 6 miles? That can take a big chunk of time. And on a treadmill? Dear God, the boredom. The sheer will and number of Girl Talk albums required to stay on the machine and not get right off and go eat a slice of pizza and drink a beer are staggering.

    So, there I am, listening to my Girl Talk, but having alternating thoughts of reasons I should just stop, and thinking about all the negative things I sometimes think about –

    What is the point? I might get hit by a bus or murdered, wouldn’t I rather that happen with a full stomach, and well-rested, rather than exhausted and sweaty? I will never lose all this weight. How could i? It took years to put on. It’s not just pregnancy weight. It’s fat. Why do you drink so much beer? Oh, fun? Drinking beer is fun, but what is fun about being fat? Nothing. Remember when you thought you were fat in college? That’s a fucking laugh now, isn’t it? You couldn’t fit a pinky in those jeans today. Yeah, even your knuckles are fat. Or maybe it’s not fat. Maybe it’s the beginning of psoriatic arthritis or RA. Yeah, you are at a genetic risk for that. So really, what is the fucking point in all this exercise and eating healthy? You might be in debilitating pain and unable to run in ten years anyway. We could just get off the machine now. You have been on it for 30 minutes anyway. Someone else probably needs a turn. No one would think anything of it if you hit stop and went home.

    And so on. For about the first 2 miles of my run. And then i attempted to drag myself out of the depths of the negative self-talk by looking around at people in the gym, hoping their hot bodies would inspire me to finish another mile.

    And that’s when I saw him. The cute young guy in a wheelchair. He was with a friend, who was wearing camo pants, and not in a wheelchair. Wheelchair guy was talking to the friend as the friend lifted weights. They were doing upper body. I will not lie – Full disclosure: These men had very nice arms. I looked. I might have bordered on ogling. Do not judge me, because I know that when you are on the dreadmill, you also look around and admire the hard bodies at the gym. If you say you don’t, you are a liar.

    So, I am watching, and camo pants guy stands up, and then wheelchair guy lifts himself up out of his chair using only his upper body, and lifts himself onto the machine. He pauses, and I realize, shit, that would be a workout for me before I ever even started the weightlifting. He takes a chain from around his neck and puts it in his pocket. Dog tags.

    Dog tags.

    And I realize, with not a small amount of shame, that he’s not just a guy in a wheelchair. He’s probably a vet. He probably lost the use of his legs preserving my right to sit and be depressed on my goddamn couch.

    I had slowed to a walk at that point, had given into the negative self-talk, and convinced myself that I needed to walk, that I wasn’t able to finish that mile without a breather. And my heart swelled at the thought of this young man, pulling himself around by sheer willpower, who has every reason to be angry and bitter, and yet, he is at the gym on a Monday, on the holiday. And he is smiling and laughing.

    And here I am, thinking of all the things that I can’t do, all the reasons I can’t do them, all the obstacles I have preventing me from doing them.


    What do I know about obstacles?

    Yes, the unexamined life isn’t worth living and all that jazz. But why am I worrying myself sick over questions like “What is the point?”

    This cute boy in the wheelchair, with the killer arms. . . he isn’t worried about what he can’t do. He’s doing what he can. And he’s doing it with a fucking smile on his face.

    And I knew then, that I would finish those six miles and that every other mile I ever run, I will probably remember this young man, and what he lost, and what his loss gave to me. It gave me, among a million other things, the freedom to relish in 6 miles on the treadmill, sucking air, and knees aching. For no other reason than that, today, i can do it.

    What is the point?

    The point is not what I can’t do. The point is what I can do.

    Inoperable Ostrichism

    Thursday, December 8th, 2011

    Okay, not really. But i have not really been able to write ever since losing the Q-man and my cousin this past summer. (Apologies to those who are offended for lumping them together, but in my heart, they are both gaping holes. Do not judge my pain.)

    I am not usually one to avoid difficult subjects, or as my sister and I call it, “ostrich” (the action of sticking one’s head in the sand), but I keep finding reasons not to write about the things that have been on my mind this year. I will be glad to see this year go – it has been painful in so many ways, and it seems that every time I turn around, i see someone near me affected negatively by some circumstance or accident, or unforeseen crappy event. I think maybe part of that is that the events of this year for my family were so negative that I have on my dark lenses when I look at anything going on around me. I hate that.

    I am usually one to try and not get bogged down in negativity. I come from a family of . . shall we say, ‘realists.” We are not a positive people. We save for a rainy day. We look at things with a critical eye. But i am aware of it, and I try, day in and day out, to be thankful for the things that i have and that are going well. But it is and always will be a struggle for me to do that. I have to work at it.

    If you think i am irreverent or i make too many jokes when things go awry, you are seeing me fight my basest instinct to get bogged down in the shit.

    Maybe that is why i haven’t written about losing my best friend this year. Yes, he’s a dog, and yes, I loved him so very much, and when I think of him, all i can think of is . . I am not ready to write about it yet. I am hopeful that I will get there. Or about what it means to live with the thought that someone you love was brutally murdered, and most likely knew what was happening the whole time.

    I will never write about that.

    I will continue to push that one down. It seems to get almost more unreal, yet never goes away. I think of it almost every day, in that quiet time when the kids are in bed and i am doing dishes. Every night.

    I don’t write about these things because I don’t want to get lost in them. I want to look on the positive side. I want to be positive. Sometimes? There isn’t a positive side. So i ostrich.

    And so I don’t write, because i have almost always sat down at Dogwood Girl in the mornings to write about the things that were foremost in my head. It was my therapy. I wrote them down, just as if I had cut my skull down the hairline, pried it apart, and pulled out the malignancy in my brain. But the issues weren’t so heavy before. These thoughts and images are inoperable.

    I will get to the dog. I will write about him. The other? It is terminal. Not in the sense that I will die from it, but in the sense that I will die with it. [wipes tear from cheek.]

    p.s. Wow. I started to write about what I’ve been up to since Halloween. And this came out. I guess the writing is good therapy after all. If you are still reading my blog, thank you. I know I haven’t been funny, or sentimental, or nostalgic – all the things that people say they like most about reading my blog. I want to be her, Dogwood Girl, again. She is still here. I promise.

    Note to Self: Do Not Do That Again

    Saturday, June 5th, 2010

    So, I signed up for a sprint Triathlon at Lake Lanier. I signed up early, because sometimes they fill up, and then life did what it does: It got crazy. T-ball and swim team. End of school programs and parties and gifts to buy. Todd’s new job that has already sent him to NYC twice and which keeps him away from us a lot. My bout with depression, which is ironic, really – I get depressed when I don’t work out. I was too depressed to get my shit together and work out. I didn’t work out, which increased my depression. Cue endless cycle. Feeling much better on that front.

    Anyway, i thought about just bailing on the whole triathlon thing. I did some workouts for my training, but my heart wasn’t in them. I skipped others. But when it came down to it, I just couldn’t bring my self to skip on race day. So I went. And I am glad. There is a singular and unique feeling of having completed a race or triathlon; not much compares to it.

    However – If you don’t get in all your training beforehand, or more specifically, if you don’t get in much training at all?


    I knew i would finish. I had done one before, and i hadn’t died. I had done the same (almost the same) course before. I even had some grand ideas about beating last year’s time.


    It was so not funny.

    I wasn’t nervous before the swim. Although there are many people who freak about the swimming portion, i really like it. Kind of peaceful almost. Cool lake water, 8 am. I kinda like it. Plus, fat girls can hold their own with skinny girls in the swimming portion. But when I got towards the end of that, and got ready for the run to transition, I just knew: This was gonna hurt.

    So, I hoofed it up to transition. I changed to my bike stuff. Still feeling fine, but just not feeling REALLY fine. Hopped on the bike, and headed out. I could tell almost right away – my lack of time in the saddle really hurt me. (Not to mention some ridiculous humidity.) The coolest part of the bike is probably crossing the big bridge at Lake Lanier Islands. Very fun to haul ass across that bridge on a bike. Not so fun? Big curving hill on Holiday Rd., and the killer on New Prospect Rd. I admit it – I thought about getting off and walking it. I thought i was gonna die. The rest of that out and back is pretty easy. A few rolling hills, but mostly flat and wide, with bike lanes and well-directed traffic, pretty scenery – farms and tractors and fields, mixed in with the crappy subdivisions, and roadside ditches dotted with Queen Anne’s Lace, which always reminds me of walks with my great Aunt Virginia, whom we all called Bubba.

    I got passed a lot. A LOT. Not a good feeling.

    I think my goal for the summer will be to try and get a bike ride in at least every weekend. And to find some riding partners, because I need someone to keep me honest, and get me up and out early. Also? Safety in numbers.

    My son is reading my blog over my shoulder. Spooky.

    Now he is laughing.

    He is a bit of a goober.

    More laughing.

    Stop it, Rollie.

    Anyway, I made it back and rounded the last corner. I saw Todd and the kids sitting on the sidewalk.

    My Fan Club

    It raised my spirits.

    Got back to transition, put on my hat, and headed off. I was already feeling kind of done. Managed to run past the bulk of the crowd (shame is a powerful motivator for me) and then walked a while. Made a deal with myself that I would run downhills and flats, and walk the hills. I had some water in transition, so I skipped the first water station, thinking i would get water at the next one. Thought it was odd that it was unmanned and there were only larger water bottles (they were like 40 oz bottles of water, i think – huge-looking.) Last year, on the run, there were water stations at the end of the out-and-back. Not this time. No water. Broke my deal with myself to not walk when I got to the end and realized they had changed the course, and it wasn’t the end, and there was no water there either.

    Saw my friend Megan (Tucker Represent!) and we walked awhile and she gave me some of her water. It was hot as hell by then, and most of the run was in full sun. Got back to the water station and all of the water was gone.


    Walked for a while again. Started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing it would be over soon. Saw the last hill, and ran it. Nice spectators along this portion gave lots of support. You just can’t slow down when you have people calling you out by number. “Go, 93! You got this!” and crap like that, really does help you when you are toast.

    I was toast.

    I rounded the corner to transition, and finally hit some shade. Came out of the woods to see my kids and Todd cheering for me, and Tiller ran out on the course and tried to run with me, which was cute, but I had to make her go back, which was kinda sad. Just running across the parking lot to the Finish line was about to kill me, and seeing my time, well, it was bittersweet. I was ten minutes slower than my last time, and last time I had a very time-consuming bike chain issue. But on the flip side, last time was much easier. This one was not fun. it was hard. I wanted to quit, numerous times, and did. (I count walking as quitting, I’ll be honest.) But I finished. It was by far the harder of the two triathlons I have done, and I finished. There is something very much of value to be garnered from overcoming the sincere desire to quit, the cramp in your side, the thirst gone unquenched, the numb feet, and most of all, the negative dialogue you have with yourself in your head.

    There is something to be said for going through with something, because you know you will be better for doing it, even though you know it will suck some serious ass.

    And in the end, what you gain from it is usually way more than what you gave on the course. What you gain from it is yours, all yours, and cannot be taken away. Ever.

    Me and Megan, Post-Race

    Don’t Worry

    Sunday, January 13th, 2008

    I’m fine. Just had a pretty crappy day there. Today has been much better and I’ve just been trying to be patient and appreciative of the good things in life. It is interesting how some days it is hard to see those good things, though.

    Anyway, if you are reading this, and you know me, I am pretty sure I appreciate you. And if you were worried about me after reading yesterday’s post, don’t. I’m okay.

    Charlotte, North Carolina

    Friday, November 10th, 2006

    Nothing four glasses of pinot grigio and one hydroxyzine won’t cure.

    The Things We Don’t Say to Our Children

    Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

    I went to pick up Rollie today from Mommies’ Morning Out. When I got there, he was pouting, and when I told him it was time to go, he threw a fit. Both the teacher and the aide looked concerned, and the aide said, “We have Lunch Bunch today and he heard the kids talking about it and then saw them pull out their lunches, and he got really upset.” Lunch Bunch is this thing where you pay extra for your kid to stay there from noon til 1pm, thus giving moms an extra hour of freedom. I told Rollie he needed to put on his jacket, so that we could go see the doggie in the car (Quint always rides with Matilda and I to pick up Rollie). He began crying pitiful, tortured tears of sorrow at not being able to eat with his classmates.

    I felt the heat of tears welling up in my own eyes, and struggling to fight them back, I clutched Rollie to me with one arm (the other occuped with Tiller) and held him to me as he struggled. I managed to get his jacket on him, and grabbed his hand to take him to the car, Matilda still in my other arm, and Rollie struggling all the while. He managed to break free, screaming “I want Miss M____” (his teacher) and threw himself into her legs. She picked him up and offered to take him to the car, but i declined and said it was okay, he needed to learn that he couldn’t stay.

    I knew that i had about five seconds to make my way out of that classroom before I burst into tears, and I managed to make it out the door and around the corner before the dam burst. Tears began flowing freely down my face as I struggled to get the keys out of my pocket and open the van doors. I fought them back and then realized it was no use and began angrily wiping them away as soon as they fell, finished strapping both kids into their carseats, and got into the driver’s seat. There is a point when tears come, at least for me, when I know there is no turning back, that once i give in to them, they will not stop. Everything in me wanted to lay my arm across the steering wheel and sob my guts out right there in the church parking lot, with all the well-meaning do-gooders coming in and out with kids in tow, but for a proud non-cryer like me, there is nothing more horrific than the thought of being comforted by church ladies with their well-meaning pats on the back, and their concerned looks, and, God forbid, their attempts at giving me a hug.

    I had to get the hell out of there.

    I drove to the end of the parking lot, and knew I was in the clear, as it is one way during pickup time. As I rounded the corner out of the lot, the tears came on full force, and Rollie said wonderingly from the back:

    “Mama, what happened?”

    “Mama’s sad.”

    “Why you sad?”

    “Because I love you.”

    Great, i think to myself. Now he thinks it’s his fault.

    The tears came harder, and became sobs, with my voice sounding to me like someone else’s, coming forth of its own volition. I just gave in to it, and I cried the whole way to the light, where I sat and sobbed and snuffled and sniffled, and wiped snot on my sleeve and rubbed my eyes roughly, and did all sorts of undignified shit until I got the left turn signal, where I wiped away the tears, turned left and headed straight for McDonald’s drive-thru. Sometimes your son just deserves the chicken nuggets, with the fries rather than the fucking killjoy apple slices, and with chocolate milk instead of white milk (the annoying term for regular milk that drive-thru employees in the ‘hood call it. Those of us with an education call it “regular milk.”) Sometimes his Mama deserves to say, “FUCK WEIGHT WATCHERS. I WANT A NUMBER 2 VALUE MEAL, PLEASE.” That’s just the way of the world.

    Rollie says, “Mama, you like chicken?”

    “Yes, Rollie, I like chicken, but i am going to have a hamburger.”

    “Tiller badiller likes chicken. She not like chocolate milk. She likes regular (yes!) milk.”

    “Yes, Rollie, she likes regular milk and chicken and french fries.”

    “Mama, french fries make you happy?”

    “Yes, Rollie, they make me very happy.”


    “Yes, Rollie.”

    “Why you cry in the car?”

    “Because I’m happy. Sometimes mamas get sad. Sometimes they are happy.”

    Sometimes you don’t tell little boys that you are crying because you are sorry that the house hasn’t sold, so we live 30 minutes from the school and if he stayed for Lunch bunch, he and matilda would fall asleep in the car, and then there would be no nap, and how could i have the silence necessary to figure out the budget in a vain attempt to find some miraculous way of allowing me to stay home with them longer? Sometimes you don’t tell him that even if we lived five minutes from the school, we probably couldn’t afford the Lunch Bunch, and that he is never going to get to do Lunch Bunch with his new friends, because in less than two months, we are going to have to yank him out of that school and put him somewhere that will take him all day, and hopefully it will be somewhere that will also be able to take his sister, but it probably won’t, and so they won’t see each other all day long, and we will have to figure out how to get him to one place, and her to another and me to an office, and I fucking hate offices and their fucking fluorescent lights, and I hate that i will have to get up two hours or more earlier than I do now and that I hate that I won’t be able to see him at lunchtime, or drive him through McDonald’s, or yell at him to stop trying to hold hands with his sister, because she doesn’t want to hold hands right now and that is why she is crying. I hate that I will get back two tired, over-stimulated kids, who will argue and cry over dinner, and I will be tired and not even have time to play with them or just sit and watch a cartoon on the couch with both of them in my lap. That I hate that now I have them from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. every day and that the times that I don’t have them are like magic, not torture, but that will change, and it will all be torture and the maybe two hours i have with them every day will be sweet torture, too. I don’t tell him that I will think a hundred times a day how much i miss him annoying the shit out of me with wanting me to build the choochoo tracks and give him snacks, and how much i will fucking hate those people who give him his snacks every day when he should be trying to get them out of my fridge at home with me trying to stop him. I don’t tell him that I feel like Tiller is completely getting the shaft, that he got me for over three years, and she barely got me for over one year. I don’t tell him that I am scared of the people who will be talking to my baby, who is just learning to speak, and who knows what kind of frightening grammar they might teach her? Or that I read to her in the morning, and before quiet time, and before bedtime, and it is our special time, and we have a routine and she is warm and she laughs when I nuzzle her ear as I whisper into them some of the words.

    “Mama,” Rollie says, “why are you crying?”

    “Because I love you, and I am happy, and I am sad.”

    I don’t tell him that it is because my heart feels like it is about to break.