When I wrote Drawings From the Top of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Rollercoaster, I portrayed October as the top of the coaster, poised over the abyss of winter. It’s more complicated than that. While I love Halloween, the track to get there is full of potholes.
We took a vacation!
I’m kidding. We went to the beach for an hour before Lorelei got sand in her bathing suit and said she was ready to go. The amount of time spent walking to and from the car, with all the sunscreen application, clothing changes, bathroom breaks, and showering was longer than time spent actually on the beach. We didn’t have Rowan with us, which may have felt more vacation-like since we didn’t have to keep him alive at the beach, but he was home with my parents because he had diarrhea. If you’ve got to use the word “diarrhea” in your description, it probably wasn’t much of a vacation.
The last few weeks have left me raw. A bundle of nerve endings too close to the surface, chafed by every tiny demand thrown by life. It would short circuit and leave me feeling stuck in the murky darkness, where feelings are different. Less than and greater than at the same time — a heavy fog shrouding the world in a deep sense of dread and confusion. I was aware that there were alternatives to the be found — that happiness did exist as a gossamer, intangible idea somewhere beyond the grey. A theoretical thing. If I reached for it, my hand came back empty.
There was a cup of water in my hallway.
I stepped over it several times before I realized I should probably pick it up. Once more, before I gathered the motivation.
I was thinking I hadn’t felt all that depressed this winter. Then I realized that everyone else is also depressed so I’m only less depressed by comparison. It’s difficult to wallow in this temporary darkness when we are all engulfed in an existential muck. We are all Artax and we’re walking through the Swamp of Sadness. Even the most optimistic among us are Atreyu, at best — doomed to keep up that grim determination lest The Nothing descend upon us all.
The internet is full of criticisms for mom groups, and I will admit to laughing far too hard at the recent Ten Little Monkeys parody that has been making the rounds. I know those moms; the helpful advice couched in disapproval, the condescension and impractical suggestions. I know the moms who look for a fight, who rage quit at every opportunity and who have turned hypocrisy into an art form. The moms who publicly attack their peers for transgressions in the organic food aisle, and then hit up the drive through on the way home.
The past seven years have grown my tribe exponentially. I’ve met so many great people who have given birth to so many great kids. But first… first there was Qais. After years of living on opposite sides of the country and then the world, my friend Charlotte had moved back to the same town as me. And while other friends had had babies by that point, this was the first tiny tribesbaby who I could visit anytime I wanted.