Week 26: Mood Swing
It’s only natural for a pregnant girl to be a bit hormonal at times. My weeping hysteria through much of Toy Story 3, several TV shows, and a few commercials has resulted in much good-natured teasing this summer. This week was worse than just a little stereotypical pregnancy crying though. The you-know-what hit the fan in spectacular fashion, and all my precious family could do was duck and cover.
I’ve never really been one who hides my emotions much. In some ways, that’s a good thing: I love deeply and show it; I can’t lie to save my life; and you pretty much always know where you stand with me. Emotion is a good thing when it’s within reasonable-person ranges, and not hijacked by the hormones and exhaustion of pregnancy. About mid-week, I started feeling the rumblings of discontent brewing, and by the end of the week, they had blown into the perfect storm of irrationality and crazy-pregnant-lady-ness that I and my family have grown to fear.
I can try all I want to keep these feelings in check, but I’m starting to think that containment only adds to the vicious cycle. The cycle goes a little something like this:
1. I start to feel a little tired and blue.
2. I feel like I shouldn’t feel that way, because life is good: I have a wonderful family with a new addition on the way; I should count my blessings..blah, blah, blah; My internal monologue becomes “suck it up and get over it.”
3. I still feel crappy, then I feel crappy about feeling crappy. (Do we see the cycle forming?)
4. I start to wonder whether the kids’ whining and picking at each other, my husband’s dirty shorts on the floor, or the dishes in the sink are really as obnoxious as they seem, or if it’s just me being moody. (Probably about 50/50 to the rational mind, but I brood over this long enough to make my mood worse.)
5. I feel like eating ice cream, warm gooey brownies, and anything else that will make my emotional-eater self feel better. Oh wait…gestational diabetes. No-sugar-added and low-carb treats just don’t do the trick. Grrr…
6. The little gray rain cloud over my head is turning into a hurricane. Still feel guilty and stupid for being upset in the first place. Still trying not to take it out on my family. Failing occasionally, which only adds fuel to the fire. Still can’t drown my sorrows in sweets.
7. Then comes the straw. You know, the one that broke the camel’s back? Yep, that straw. Something small, and seemingly inconsequential, until it releases the floodgates of emotion on an unsuspecting victim. It’s not pretty, and I usually know it’s coming. I try to hold it in, which only delays the agony, but eventually it comes. Watch out!
This week, the “straw” was eggs. Three stupid little eggs. Perhaps I should back up a little. The morning started out somewhat okay. I woke up feeling a little grumpy, but hoped that a nice cup of coffee would help clear the fog. Not so much, but I was still hanging in there. My husband left for a day of beginning-of-the-school-year meetings, so the kids and I decided to go to story time at the library. After a minor freak-out about only finding six of the eight stuffed people in the “Wheels on the Bus” learning kit, we headed out. (Upon reflection, I decided that this a somewhat justified freak out–we always lose the crap in those kits, and I warned the kids I didn’t want to bring it home, but they wore me down. We’ll be taking a break from the learning kits. Again.)
After a fun time at the library, we came home for lunch, and that’s when trouble really started. I gave the kids some choices for lunch, but nothing made them happy. We’re not talking spinach versus Brussels sprouts choices here; they could pick chicken nuggets or pizza. But one wanted five nuggets, not four; the other deemed the ketchup puddle inadequate; and the third requested yogurt, chose from three flavors, and ultimately decided her chosen flavor was disgusting and unworthy. You get the picture. The afternoon progressed much the same way, and my annoyance level started to go higher and higher. The husband came home late in the afternoon, and within ten minutes of arriving said, “What the heck is with the kids today?” So I know it wasn’t just me, but as dinner time approached, I was at the end of my rope.
That’s where the eggs come in. We had a busy night ahead, planning to paint the youth room at church with our youth group. In order to get there on time, I knew I needed to get moving on making dinner; preferably something quick, nutritious, and agreeable to all family members. I started throwing out suggestions, which were either shot down by the kids or met with indifference by the spouse. In my husband’s defense, 90% of the time, he genuinely doesn’t care what we eat and is happy with anything, so I should know better than to ask, but it just wasn’t one of those days when logic was my strong suit.
Finally, I cracked. “WE NEED TO LEAVE THIS HOUSE IN JUST OVER AN HOUR, AND I NEED TO MAKE SOMETHING FOR US TO EAT! I JUST NEED A YES, THAT’S OK, ‘OR A NO, THAT SOUNDS GROSS’ FROM YOU SO I CAN MAKE THE FRIGGIN’ DINNER! IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!” My outburst was followed by a tearful collapse into a chair. Gracie and the husband looked at each other with panicked eyes, and quickly suggested a favorite old standby: breakfast for dinner. It was agreed upon by everyone, and I mopped myself up, apologized for the outburst, and went into the kitchen. Crisis temporarily averted. We were back on track.
I got the sausage links browning, got the cantaloupe ready to slice, then opened the fridge to pull out the dozen eggs that I just KNEW were in there. We’d had an abundance of eggs for the past few weeks, so I knew they were there, behind the Dora yogurt…or maybe on the bottom shelf by the cheese–they must be in the middle, hiding behind the leftover mac and cheese from yesterday’s lunch. Nope. Just three lonely little eggs in their almost-empty little container.
You¹ve got to be kidding me, I thought. Then I said it out loud. “You¹ve got to be kidding me.”
“Ummm…what, hon?” came the tentative response from the living room.
“Three eggs.” I responded, my lower lip already starting to tremble.
Gracie, always willing to help, pipes up with a whiny: “but I want dippin’ eggs for dinner!”
The floodgates opened. It all came out, in a jumble of “well, we don¹t have enough eggs,” and “I can¹t do anything right today,” and “all I want to do is make our stinkin’ dinner,” and “why can¹t this just be simple,” and “I’m so tired, and I¹m so done with today, and we still have youth group tonight,” all mumbled through the tears into my husband’s chest, as he wrapped his arms around me and tried to make sense of the mess that stood in the place of his usually capable wife.
As I started to calm down, I looked up at him with a blotchy, red, tear-stained face and said, “I just wish we had some damn eggs.” Somehow this struck both of us as funny. We both started giggling. Most of the tension evaporated, I regained enough rationality to throw a pot of water on to boil while he ran down to the pantry for a jar of spaghetti sauce. Dinner was on the table in less than 20 minutes; we made it to church on time; helped the youth group kids paint three walls; came home and got our own kids into bed; and I survived the rest of the evening.
Maybe I just needed that release. Maybe I needed to give myself permission to just feel annoyed and moody, rather than bottling it up till I wanted to explode. Maybe I needed to admit that my kids were being uncharacteristically obnoxious that day, and it wasn’t actually all my problem. In the end, the funk blew over, and we all made it through. It wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last, so maybe it’s time to learn how to accept those ugly feelings, even if I don’t like them. It’s probably better than going completely nuts over eggs.