Thursday, August 23, 2012


Last week I had to deal with a pretty major disappointment.

It wasn't a huge life tragedy -- more of an exciting career opportunity that I thought was a lock which instead fell through in spectacular fashion.

Do you remember that scene in "A Fish Called Wanda" where Kevin Kline opens the empty safe and then gasps a couple of times before shouting,


Look, I found it on YouTube so you can watch it for yourself:

Well, that's kind of how I felt.

I've written before about the challenge of continuing to care for kids when you are sick. I've talked at length about how hard it can be to drag oneself from one's sick bed and continue to provide for and look after one's offspring when one is wildly under the weather.

But last week I realized that dealing with kids when you've taken an emotional hit can be even more complicated.

I mean, before I had kids, upon receiving what we'll simply call "the email of doom" I would have responded thusly:
  1. Emit lengthy cry of epic despair.
  2. Commence cavalcade of cursing while tearing around home looking for items to burn and/or destroy.
  3. Find items. Hulk SMASH.
  4. Locate scores of sugary foodstuffs.
  5. Devour above while lying in bed weeping copiously.
  6. Commit to multiples days of ill-advised television viewing, salty snacking and occasional bouts of sobbing.
  7. Begin heavy drinking phase.
  8. Regret above choices. Advanced tummy troubles commence.
  9. Light at the end of tunnel glimpsed.
  10. Recovery and moving on.

And I gotta say, that system worked pretty well for me.

But when the "email of doom" arrived last week, I found myself at home with three little kids to take care of, which meant steps one through eight were pretty much entirely unavailable to me.

I was lost and confused.

Growing up, my parents had a real knack for, for lack of a better term, keeping their stuff together. I know they faced plenty of tribulations of various sizes throughout my childhood, but while they generally spoke frankly with us about what was going on, they always managed to maintain a stiff upper lip when we kids were around.

Which I'm all for. 

I remembered my own parent's calm last week as I sat sobbing in my room. My three-year-old son wandered in, looked at me with concern on his tiny face and asked, 

"Why is Mommy sad?"
So I told him that there was a job I really wanted that I didn't get, and that it was making me feel really sad. Then I stopped crying, went outside to play ball with the kids for a while, and then made them dinner, put them in the bath, read bedtime stories, and tucked them in, all with a smile on my face.


But I did it because it seemed better than the other option. I'll admit that finding this balance is going to be a challenge for me. I think I'm probably too emotional to manage my parents' air of constant calm in front of my kids, but I also know that I need to control myself so that my ups and downs don't become theirs.

After I got the kids to sleep I sat on the sofa, did some quality cursing and sobbing, and accepted the fact that I'm still working to figure out the balance.

And then I devoured an ill-advised amount of ice cream, broke a couple of things in a quiet manner, and went to bed.