On Sunday night my husband alerted me to the fact that he would not be home before bedtime one night this week, and I promptly had a panic attack. A real, legitimate, rock on the chest, panic attack. And then I asked him to please be home at least one day that week, because I couldn’t do all the days by myself.
And then I cried myself to sleep.
It’s been building over the past few weeks, this looming feeling of dread about the evenings. I’m not sure when it started (maybe with vision therapy?), or when it got so bad, all I know is that the thought of 5-9pm fills me with a panicky sense of dread.
Did you catch that? The mere thought of the only hours I spend with my kids during the work week fills me with apprehension. To say I feel guilt about this would be an extreme understatement. The guilt is suffocating.
But not as suffocating as the dread.
Those hours after work and before bed are my perfect storm. I’m tired after a day of giving myself to others who would do nothing but take. The transition from child care to home is a hard one, fraught with whining, yelling and full blown melt downs. Preparing food and feeding my children is the parental task I most loathe, and they have to eat dinner every. single. night. My son is increasingly a two year old and my daughter is increasingly her stubborn, emotional, aggressive, pre-diet self. Vision therapy requires I give 100% of my attention to my daughter for 20+ minutes. My son’s bedtime requires I give him 100% of my attention at exactly the same time I should be doing vision therapy. If I have to give either one of them a bath the whole schedule gets pushed back half an hour to an hour. Most nights I stumble out of my daughter’s room at 9:30, having not eaten dinner, with a load of laundry to fold and another to put in the dryer.
It’s a marathon and I have to sprint to the finish line. It requires a patience and empathy I just don’t have at the end of the day. When I’m home alone it feels relentless and takes forever and even if I time everything just right, I’m still not done until late into the evening. When it’s over all I want to do is unwind for an hour but I don’t have an hour to do anything but laundry, pick up the house (not to make it clean, just to clear paths from one space to another), wash the lunch dishes, and pack the next day’s lunch. If I spend even 30 minutes on the couch reading blogs, I’m not asleep until midnight.
When my husband is home it’s more manageable, but he’s had work obligations a lot this month (fucking holiday parties, which he HATES to go to, but feels he needs to be seen at), and I’ve been alone until after bedtime most nights.
Asking him not to attend one of his events this week was the first time I’ve ever admitted that I couldn’t handle something with the kids. Want to go to SXSW for six days again? Sure! Feel you need to make that once a week nightly commitment because of your new job? Go for it. Want to take the weekend to attend a friend’s wedding? I got this.
But I don’t got this anymore.
I don’t got this.
I don’t know which felt worse on Sunday night, realizing that a week of nights alone with my kids gives me a panic attack, or admitting to myself, and my husband, that I can’t manage it anymore.
PS – I finally responded to all the comments on my last two posts. Thank you for your kind words of support. Sorry it took me so long to get back to all of you.