Monday, March 9, 2009

Meltdowns--snow and otherwise

The question most often posed to me, (besides can I spare some change) is how do I do all that I do. This is usually meant as a compliment from some well-intentioned individual who doesn't work four jobs while trying to raise two children, maintain an art practice and some semblance of sanity. I have two canned answers for this question. I either respond that I'm a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder or that I have meltdowns on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure that answer A is false, since my step-father worked as a psychologist in a hospital for the criminally insane for 25 years and probably would have had me committed by now. (Have you seen the new Showtime series--Tara??)

At this point in the conversation, the well-intentioned individual is laughing a bit uncomfortably. Really--how do you do it? Answer B is the correct answer--you win. Usually stress triggers the meltdowns which only last 24 hours or less. I've been told that perhaps I should try medication or therapy to prevent these meltdowns. But truthfully, they serve as their own therapy and I always feel better after they are over. Thankfully they only occur once every quarter--kind of like the obligatory taxes. Also after growing up in a household with two psychologists getting their PhD's, I was the unwilling guinea pig for every type of therapy possible, so am a bit reluctant to re-engage in this form of treatment. 

My most recent meltdown occurred this weekend coinciding with the big thaw--a foot of snow melting in 60 degree weather. What triggered it? Children and computer problems. You may recall that my Mac G-4 died on January 23rd after my teenager 'touched' it. Jesus saved better than me, so I was without quite a few files. Luckily I know MAC fix-it fairies. My fix-it fairy is quite busy and in-demand, so I waited patiently for the retrieval of my hard drive and the miraculous death-life recovery. I finally got my computer back this weekend, eager for a spring break video editing marathon. Saturday, when I open up final cut pro, the evil demon inside my computer tells me that my serial number is not valid! No big deal, since I know software fairies as well. My software fairy gives me two other serial numbers to try. The evil demon denies both. At this point I'm in a bit of a panic, since I only have a few days to complete this editing and my university labs are closed during spring break. 

Usually this in itself would not be enough to cause a meltdown, since I do yoga and practice deep breathing during times of duress. 

However, not only was the computer possessed by evil demons, my children were as well. Their demons are a bit more passive aggressive than the computer one. Cole--have you put away your 4 baskets of laundry? (no response) Have you been watching T.V. for the entire 5 hours that I was at work? (yeah--but this is really good) Have you practiced your guitar or emptied the cat litter? Turn off the T.V. now and do your chores. No T.V. until the chores are done. 3 hours pass during which time I'm dealing with the computer demon. Cole--you still haven't put your laundry away. I've been telling you to put your laundry away for 5 days now. What have you been doing for the past three hours? Uh--playing. YOU HAVE TO PUT YOUR LAUNDRY AWAY NOW OR BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN! An hour later I catch him on his computer. COLE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE COMPUTER? I SAID NO TV OR VIDEO GAMES UNTIL YOUR CHORES ARE DONE. Mom--you didn't say no computer--only no tv or movies. I'm feeling a bit volatile, but swallow it. My teenager Camille has similar issues--Camille please take out the garbage and empty the dishwasher. Also you need to clean your room and write your thank you notes. She's a master at saying ok or yes and then completely blowing me off. 

Hours later--after I have PATIENTLY ASKED FOR THINGS TO BE DONE, I'm imploding with anger and frustration. However I am determined to not scream, since both children think I have anger management issues. Mom--why are you so snippy? Take a chill-pill mom. Children who value their lives, should not say such things to parents who are on the brink. 

I am fast approaching a meltdown. A downward spiral occurs within minutes.  It no longer is about kids' chores or computers. I somehow convince myself that I'm a beastly parent--my children never listen to me and I should never have been allowed to have them. I'm a terrible role model, who failed to instill a sense of community and work ethic in my kids. They suck all the life out of me. I'll be old and withered before I ever have a life again. I'll never have time to make art and my art career will be over. The climax of the meltdown usually includes thoughts that my life sucks and why do I even bother.  This is why God made pharmaceuticals. I could go on a rampage, but it's better to get a good night's sleep and start all over the next day. 8-10 hours of ambien-induced sleep should not be underrated or undervalued. 


  1. Wish we'd had ambien in my day.

    At least you didn't lose the filter from the dryer. That is the kind of trivial thing that pushes you right over the edge. Six loads of wet wash and no dryer filter.

  2. "us of tara" allows me thirty minutes to laugh at myself in the mirror.

  3. I loved to hear your step Father's stories. They are the best!! I am with you. Meltdowns. I did not think it would be me, but yes. A good night sleep helps a lot. Chill pill is still said? Oh good. You are a real life parent who wants to make a difference in the world. If the family were just in alignment with your goals. The troops need to be on the same page. Family meeting time. Put the priorities in writing. Priority one. God. Want to make him laugh. Make a plan.