I am a failure. My kids turn to the gadget I use to read to watch. I am a failure. My kids are not avid readers. They do not use this device to read multiple books and newspapers simultaneously, but to watch. They binge on Netflix and Pokémon. I am a failure. I am raising privileged nimrods who share a mother who drinks too much. I am a failure – so drink more as I contemplate my numerous shortcomings. I site prestigious publication after lauded journal with each sip— all of which emphatically declare that avid readers are ‘A’ students. Non-readers are not even mentioned.
Then I allow the rage to surface.
“Table for one,” I announce with a combination of ‘cat-who-at-the-canary’ glee and ‘Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ smile.
The hostess nods kindly, knowingly. She must have kids. She sits me and my iUniverse… in a corner. My family trip has turned into a momentary vacation. I will my deadzilla iPhone to charge. It refuses… like the bickering little expletives who refused me minutes ago. The spawn their father said he could parent more rationally—thus, I’m eating solo.
So here I sit – with my MacBook Pro, paperweight of an iPhone— and my stronger-than-expected beverage. I am ‘in flow’. And enraged. And so fucking scared I could spit.
Sip away the fear that I’ve failed to instill the beauty that is this life; its language, its scientific order – the curiosity that sustains our very humanity— into the basically intelligent beings I’ve birthed. Rage. Rage that they might take ‘this’— this life that affords them vacations where their only concerns are sunburns and decisions about which amazing wonders to explore— for granted. Rage. And fear of failure. Or fear that I’ve already failed.
I sip again – and wonder how to repair my failure. Finding calories instead of answers, I put aside my glass and turn to my computer – where I read about the horrors humanity inflicts upon itself. My rage feels justified. But my self righteous body grows weary as my vacation meal ends.
I return to my room. I go back to my family.
“We think that you might feel under appreciated,” says my husband, summarizing an apparent discussion between he and the kids.
“Ha”, I grunt. If only my fears were limited to my ego. I do appreciate that the wide-eyed creatures have tidied up. Have to give it to their dad for pulling this off. Drawers are actually being used to store items. I can actually walk on the floor in their loft portion of our room.
But the tidiness doesn’t prevent it from vomiting forth. The fear. The ugly bile that is my terror> The horror that I’ve enabled soft children by hiring help to make their beds and to join me in reminding them to wipe their . I am a failure.
Eyes widen even more. Silence. My husband and children return to a discussion of the particulars of the room service that they ordered without me. Their oh-so-polite patter builds a wall against my bile.
Love is hard. In the midst of disappointment – with oneself, one’s spouse, oneself, one’s kids, oneself, one’s drink, oneself. Love is hard. But love is worth the fight. We talk – me more tersely than they – about tomorrow’s logistics. There are apologies, trepidacious hugs. There is love so, of course, there is hope.
“it’s bedtime,” my husband announces. He retreats to his book. Me to my laptop. We hear whispers. “What are you doing?” my husband demands. “Drawing,” my younger son whispers from the loft above.
It’s not Proust. Or even Harry Potter. But then again, it ain’t Minecraft or Grey’s Anatomy either. It’s hope. It’s love. It’s the warmth on my cheek as a tear flows.
It’s family. It’s the fear of failure, the prayer that love will save us from it. It’s the covenant of family. Maybe it’s the vodka too?
Shortly after my hubby – my beloved who even though he slumbers across a DMZ would kill to insure my happiness – instructs our progeny to sleep. I hear a cough.
“Do you need a puff?”
“Please,” my daughter replies, demonstrating my weak-lunged legacy.
I climb the non –ADA compliant stairs with our shared inhaler. She puffs. We hug. I kiss my younger son and cuddle both of them, beseeching each in their own way to, “Please, please be better than me.” They mumble as they drift off to sleep.
I return to bed with hope as my blanket.