You have no doubt noticed that you haven’t seen much of me lately. Maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe years. I bump into you in the grocery store, and we always talk about getting together soon and about how ridiculously long it has been. And it really has been too long. I really have wanted to see you. But I will admit that sometimes when you call, I don’t answer the phone. Often it is because I can’t talk amidst a cacophony of banging, screeching, and crying. Mostly it is because I have been standing there for some time trying to figure out just what it is that my child wants so badly, but doesn’t have the words to ask. He’s upset, and there will be no conversation if I don’t figure it out. I intend to call back, but because he has so much trouble going to sleep and staying asleep, I often just give up and hope for another opportunity.
But sometimes I don’t answer for no reason at all. Yes, I swear I’m eating, brushing my teeth, and taking showers. Don’t worry — I’m not that far gone. I simply find it overwhelming at times to even think about making casual conversation. There is so much to catch up on, and I don’t have the energy for that. So, please believe me when I tell you —It’s me, not you.
But you probably already knew that. I’ve heard the other end of the phone go quiet and then realize that I have been talking for a long time about my child. It’s often the end of our time together when I realize that he has been the sole topic of conversation. I don’t mean to do it. I’m simply overwhelmed and leaning on you in the same way I used to about other sorts of things. Except that worries about him are now a broken record in my mind. I forget to ask you about your kitchen renovation, your vacation, what is going on with your sister-in-law, or your promotion. And even when I do ask, I’m distracted and don’t seem to have the capacity for all the details. I really do care about you and your life. It is simply that there is only so much room in the active part of my mind, and right now it is taken up with him, his needs, and his myriad of therapy sessions each week.
You are still the great, caring person you always were. And I know that you mean well when you ask me to “bring the kids” to some get-together you are having. I know that your feelings will get hurt when I inevitably decline. But, you see, when everyone else is sitting back and laughing — watching their kids play in the pool — I am running around trying to make certain that my curious little tester of bouncing properties isn’t destroying your home. You have a lot more knickknacks and breakables than me these days. I’m trying to make certain that he is fed, because he won’t eat any of the child-friendly foods you so kindly have served. And, because you don’t have a fence or child-proof lock on the exterior doors or safety gate on your stairs, I can’t spend any time with you while there anyway. It becomes a stressful experience that I avoid like the plague. And, even if I do get a sitter and come without the kids? I spend my time feeling guilty about not bringing them.
So, that’s where I am right now. And why I haven’t been calling. I really would like to have lunch with you. So, yes, please ask. But I’ll need you to do me a favor. Please give me several days’ notice. Because I don’t want to bring the kids, and I need to make arrangements. Please pick an affordable restaurant. Because all these therapies, treatments, and special diets are costly. Please let me go on a little while about my child. Because it explains so much about the Me of Now.
And then be sure to sweetly say, “Now let’s talk about ME” and proceed to do so. I can take it, really. Sometimes, I just need to be reminded.
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