I try not to tell people too many details about my life because the look of horror on their faces when I describe what E and I do on a daily basis is a little off-putting. I mean let’s be honest, E does 1000% more than me, but I wouldn’t label myself as lazy. I’d love to be lazy, lazy is what I aspire to. But not now, on account of all the adulting.
Fortunately it feels like most of the time we’ve really got our shit together in a “Wow, nothing destructive and explosive happened today, nailing it!” and then we high-five and fall asleep standing up.
I’m not saying other families don’t do a lot, too, it’s just that I’m super competitive and ambitious so in order to win we’ve really got to pack in as much as possible. Win what? Hell if I know, but I bet I’m better at it than you. Better at screwing it up I meant, duh. Stop making me sound so smug and sanctimonious.
I deal with so much drama and ridiculousness on a regular basis for my job that I tend to be pretty laid back about what some people think are emergencies. By “some people”, I of course mean E. His demeanor is more along the lines of a walking teddy bear with a hair-trigger nuclear bomb inside it – sweet and kind and giving on the front end, explosive and unpredictable on the back, so when he’s angry and upset about something and going crazy and yelling, I’m usually calmly asking if anyone died and if the answer is no, I tune it out until he’s under control and cuddly again.
“WTF ALISSA, IT’S 9:30 P.M., DID YOU FEED OUR CHILDREN?”
“Our children? Uhm, which ones specifically?”
“BOTH OF THEM.”
“Let’s see, today is….Tuesday? YES! Yep, I fed them last Thursday. Whew! I thought for a minute I might be in trouble there, narrow miss!”
*red face, bulging eyes* “THEY HAVE TO EAT EVERY DAY, I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING!”
“Yeah, here’s the thing. Every day is a lot. And then if you get consistent about it they expect it and want it more so I think my plan is better.”
“WYATT PASSED OUT AT SOCCER PRACTICE TONIGHT BECAUSE HE WAS SO HUNGRY!”
“Okay, calm down, geesh. This happens all the time. He’s like a fainting goat, it’s probably some kind of medical condition, but like we have time to go to the doctor, amiright?! He’ll probably grow out of it.”
“THE SOLUTION IS EATING YOU DUMBASS.”
“Well did he die Mr. “Everyone Eats And It’s Important and Pay Attention To The Food Hexagon”?
*shaking his head, stomping around, pounding fists* “Good God, it’s a food pyramid. Are you insane? Do you even exist in reality?”
“Oh, sorry. I was waiting for the rage tsunami to be over. Are we good?”
Most of the time the kids and I do everything possible to avoid Mad Dad, but guys, we’re not perfect. Sometimes we mess it up. We mess it up real bad. And having so many responsibilities to keep track of does make things significantly more difficult.
The other day while I was driving to the dentist, trying not to hyperventilate and blackout from needle terror, I had a fleeting thought that E and I are like two circus clowns juggling plates. This description is actually pretty accurate seeing my predilection for bright lipstick, the glow in the dark neon shoes E prefers, and the fact that we can never find actual plates in our house. Mostly we are just both too scared to go upstairs in our own home because that’s where the kids live and it’s easier to minimize all the yelling with only half-yearly inspections. But I’m pretty sure that’s where the plates are.
Anyway, I thought to myself that although things were going pretty freaking well at the moment, that surely even one juggled plate getting a tad out of sync was going to result in absolute anarchy.
As it turns out, I’m pretty much a fortune-teller, but only about awful things. Like that time I dropped Wyatt off at a friend’s house and wasn’t a block away before I had the strangest thought that something bad was going to happen and then laughed at myself because, dur, life doesn’t work that way and then an hour later I get a call that he set Five Mile Prairie ablaze playing with matches. Or when I liked the spicy Thai burrito at Taco Time so much and one night woke up in a cold sweat with the thought that they’d take it off their menu, AND THEN THEY DID. Or the other time when I randomly and out of the ordinary watched 20/20 on a Sunday night and it was an episode about brain cancer and I called E into the room and was talking about how cool it was that this new treatment was available and ugh, brain cancer, that would be the worst! And then a month later my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer. Want to know something horrendous coming up in your future? I’m your girl. Apparently.
So when I had this fleeting thought on the way to get my mouth ripped out of my head and my teeth reassembled in random bloody order while some 12 year old dentist sang along to 80’s Muzak while wielding the most giant needle in the world, I did take pause for a second. But then I brushed it off as my brain’s attempt to think of an alternate terrible thing so that the current terrible thing didn’t seem so bad. It’s science. Or astronomy. Or psychology. One of those.
I said I was premonitious, not smart. Because at what point do I start accepting my amazing aptitude for predicting the macabre and take it seriously?
Yeah, I just made up that word premonitious, so what?
Going to the dentist was just another thing to check off on the errand list that day. The kids were in soccer camp in the morning and then they both had basketball practice and then my mom had a doctor appointment and all the cars needed their tabs renewed and one needed an oil change, a bank deposit needed to be made, and then both kids had regular soccer practice at different locations in opposite ends of the county. I’m not gonna lie, E was doing all that. And he was working on a gigantic kitchen job at the same time. I was working, going to the dentist and then having wine with a friend because the thought of all that other stuff was so exhausting that I felt like I should have a little girl time to myself to unwind. I guess now that I put that in print it does make me sound a tad selfish. Like maybe I could have washed their uniforms or made sure they brushed their teeth or something, I don’t know, these things are overwhelming.
In my own defense, the level of detail and efficiency under extreme deadlines required in my work life is hard to explain to people without their eyes glazing over and a strong showing of incredulity that someone willingly does what I do all day long. So I think we can all agree I should get a little sympathy and credit when I accidentally forget to button up details in my personal life. Unfortunately when you’re married, the impact of your actions affect two people, one of whom may or may not be crazy from time to time. And anyway, E willingly encouraged me to have a wine night because it was with another mom and she isn’t weird or anything and I think he hopes these things will rub off on me eventually.
And so I was really looking forward to wine and hoping all the Novocaine would wear off in time to not have to ask for a straw to slurp with. At the dental office they got me set right up in my usual death-grip-on-the-chair position and started using their chainsaw to do whatever it is they do when I have my eyes squeezed shut the whole time. When my Fitbit buzzed that I had a text, I ignored it thinking it was probably just my friend firming up the time to meet. But then it buzzed again. And again. And again.
I pried one eye open and lifted up my arm to peek at my watch. Unfortunately my arm crashed into the 8,000 watt spotlight they were using on me and I was temporarily blinded, or I had slipped into a coma, or it was just sunny out, I don’t know. Over the sound of the jackhammer they were using on my second bicuspid, I did distantly hear the dentist say to hold still.
Most of the time I follow instruction well. Occasionally I go into “You can’t tell me what to do” mode. And since it was my face they were wrecking, I decided to do what I wanted and check my watch. Bless Fitbit’s little heart, only portions of text messages come through, so I could see that E was texting me but it was like “kids lunch”, “oil change” “Walmart” “Department of Licensing.” I thought it was kind of weird he was telling me details of the day because that’s boring but I picked up my phone and decided to take a real look at the messages just to spite the dentist.
The first message was something like “The Amex card won’t work.”
Well, this happens, not everyone takes Amex so maybe he was at one of those places.
The next message was “They changed my oil and I can’t pay.”
Then: “Debit card doesn’t work, in drive-thru at Zips.”
Then my phone actually rang so I answered it. The dentist seemed a little irritated but I’m a pretty important person, so I knew he was secretly jacked I was even in his presence and was just pretending for appearances sake.
It was E. He was yelling pretty loud so I hung up. I mean it’s not fair to subject my ears to Jaws of Life dental noise on top of him raising his voice, no one’s got time for that. Then I started sweating a little.
My watch buzzed again. It was Wyatt this time. Oh great, I thought, he’s probably checking to see how I’m doing at the dentist, what a sweetheart.
“Mom. Dad’s furious. Help.”
Well this wasn’t good. The phone rang again. The dentist sighed. My hands were shaking pretty bad but I picked it up. The dentist was drilling which made it seem like I was kind of busy, but E didn’t care, he just let out a string of expletives as if I could solve his crisis while getting my teeth whitened.
Apparently we had a liquidity problem. Which is technically not possible, buuuuuuut, I may have accidentally not done some things I should have which was now causing E to be in a bit of a predicament.
You see about a month and a half earlier, my bank sent me a shit ton of mail and I was all “Yikes, that looks bad, don’t open those!” So I took them to work and waited a few weeks and then took a peek at them. Turns out it was just all the new chip cards everyone has to switch to. But they all looked exactly the same and I couldn’t tell what was what and there were 10 of them. Between our personal accounts, business accounts, my mom’s play money account and her real accounts which I now have to manage, it was a lot of cards. Eventually I just drove to the bank and vomited them all over a personal bankers desk and asked for help activating them and sorting them out. When we were done, she did mention that E’s cards had not been sent out yet and to keep an eye out in the mail for them.
Approximately at the same time, some sort of letter thing arrived from Amex or something, it was all “Costco hates us, you’re getting some new stupid card, be on the lookout for it, sincerely Amex.” And I was all “Whatever, I don’t want a new card I’ll just keep using this old one, Citibank can suck it.” I guess the fine details of the letter said the Amex card would actually stop working at some point. Which magically happened to be the day that E’s debit cards for our personal and business accounts stopped working because they had sent the new cards to activate to me two weeks before.
In the grand scale of the cosmos, having your credit card and debit card not work on exactly the same day seems like some pretty seriously shitty juju. I mean, universe, I’M DEALING WITH A LOT IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW, CUT ME SOME SLACK?
But no. And so there I was. Numb, half drilled, with a husband who was going to lose his shit in approximately 10 seconds. So I did what any good and loving wife would and I politely told the dentist to get his equipment the hell out of my mouth and we would finish our business at some other date. He said a lot of things like “dangerous” and “open cavity” and “dislocated bite” and “sudden death” but I couldn’t think about that when I was probably already dead for our current banking situation.
They tried to make me pay in full anyway and I was all “Dude, srsly?” and I rescheduled for another date and looked at my phone again.
“Out of gas. Can’t pay. Screw soccer.”
Everything else was horrific, but E saying the kids weren’t going to soccer meant that things had progressed to a level of hell Dante couldn’t even dream of. I texted back that I had some cash and I’d meet him to fill the tank and try to figure out the banking situation in the meantime.
I met him at the gas station and both kids ran to my car and jumped in and looked at me like it was the last time they’d see me. I winked at them because false courage is better than nothing and got out to face the tiger head on.
By this time his rage had worn him down and he was kind of staggering around like a drunken sailor on shore leave. I offered to take the kids to soccer because it was very important that they not miss a practice and I obviously knew this because of how mature and sporty I am.
He agreed and I don’t know what he did the rest of the night but I’m sure as hell not going to ask because that would mean speaking and having a grown up conversation and a lot of other things that involve emotions and that’s gross. So we do what we always do, ignore it, move on to the next problem, and consider ourselves one of the most amazing couples to ever have existed because of our extraordinary ability to get things so wrong sometimes that it actually makes things right.
I say we, but I mean me.
I’m still kinda mad about missing wine though.