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.