But What About the Laundry?
My Deepest Fear
Sunday morning, my daughter woke up crying. She had a class trip to Six Flags and was overwhelmed with homework. Frightened of her anxiety born of perfectionism, too much like mine, I galvanized her to go on the trip. “When you’re 50, you will wish you had spent more time having fun and less time on work.” A tearful mess, (her, not me) I deposited her at the school and went home and worried. My husband suggested that I surprise our son by taking him to Six Flags. That way, I could check on our daughter and please my son at the same time. (Conveniently, he had a business trip that day and could not join us on this “great adventure.”)
I don’t like amusement parks. I was terrified of the local Halloween Haunted House as a child. Dark with costumed figures jumping out and bowls of spaghetti guts and peeled grape eyeballs to feel, it was not a frisson of fun for me. While the other kids were laughing, I was quaking and looking for the exit. My fear was compounded with embarrassment at not fitting in with the other kids. What was the matter with me? When it came to rides, I could barely stand the Merry-Go-Round. The Ferris Wheel was too high. The Round-Up was too fast. I never went on those flying swings. And forget about roller coasters. As amusement parks became theme parks and got better at supplying a well-rounded overall experience instead of just rides (think Disney, Busch Gardens), I grudgingly accepted them and even have been known to have a good time, usually in the company of more adventurous and extraverted souls. The log flume ride was fun! But roller coasters – I hated them. The safety belt strapping you in so that you don’t die when you go upside down. The adrenalin as you crank up to the first swoop. The force of the swoop on your neck. The wondering when the ride is going to be over. The nausea. The screaming. And the newer ones in the dark? I hate them. I hate amusement parks.
I looked at my husband like he was crazy. “But what about the laundry?” I exclaimed, grasping at a responsible-sounding excuse. I wanted to go to yoga. I wanted to plant spring flowers. Maybe go for a bike ride. And, of course, I had the weekly laundry to do. I did not want to go to Six Flags. But I was worried about my daughter. And I did want to make my son happy. Rarely spontaneous, I am quite sure that when I am 90, I will wish I had spent more time having fun and less time on laundry. I woke my son and told him we were going to Six Flags. The surprise, the disbelief, the thrill on his face gave me joy. Off we went.
When we arrived, I remembered why I hate amusement parks. The long lines. The loud music. The rickety rides. The junk food. (I brought my own peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, of course. I cannot eat that food. Thank god the security guard didn’t make me throw it away when he inspected my purse. Speaking of purses, do not bring a purse to an amusement park. You cannot go upside down on a roller coaster with a purse.) Six Flags pretty much consists of roller coasters, ranging from scary to terrifying. It doesn’t help that I wonder about their maintenance and safety records and am skeptical of the nonchalant teens operating them. For better or worse, the first ride we hit was the most terrifying. (SUPERMAN: Ultimate Flight) I used my yoga: Breathe. Remember it doesn’t last long. I willed the adrenalin to subside. We swooped and screamed and I did not lose my purse. I acknowledged, firmly and with no embarrassment nor apology this time around: I hate roller coasters. I hate amusement parks. I wished that I could be a more enthusiastic and spontaneous and fun-loving mother for my son, but I couldn’t do it. We spent the day sauntering the park, looking for rides that were not too terrifying. He solicitously didn’t want to make me go on any rides that were too scary. We ran into my daughter once. She was having a good time with her friends and didn’t want to be stalked by her mother and little brother. We let her be. Exhausted, and about $200 in the hole, we drove home. My daughter returned on the bus to her mounds of homework. Life returned to its normal relentless pace of too much to do and too little time for joy and connection.
A 13-year-old boy killed himself this week. I don’t know him. It doesn’t matter. I am devastated. So sad for his mother. I am the mother of a 13-year-old boy who can’t imagine life without him. Even when, (especially when), we have days where I fall short of being the fun-loving mother I aspire to be and imagine he wants. Tragedies like this one remind me that every day is precious, even when they’re not perfect. Perhaps being the careful-loving mom that I am who acknowledges who she is and who she is not may be the best mom I can be to him.
Life is hard. We all suffer. Some more than others. At 50, I have more self-knowledge and self-acceptance than I had as a teen. I have become resilient, surviving the troughs because I have the experience of surviving previous troughs. Surviving because I have people I love and who love me. Surviving for those precious and imperfect moments of joy and connection. Surviving because I am grateful for all the good in my life. My deepest, most unfathomable fear is to lose a child. I pray that my children never experience so much pain that they feel there is no way out. I pray that my children speak their anger and ask for help. I pray that my children do less laundry and have more fun.
Yes, at 50 we realize love and accept many things we didn’t and couldn’t as a young adult. I often think of the saying ‘youth is wasted on the young’. How true and I feel momentarily sad about this. But then I remind myself, that there is a season for everything and I am happy with my age and maturity and what I can share with others and especially with my loved ones. Thank you for sharing your story, very inspiring 🙂
Yes, I am happy with my age and maturity, and so much happier than I used to be – but shocked at how quickly it is all flying by. Thanks for reading.
It does go by way to quick, but now I’m enjoying my grandchildren and the joy they bring to me. Have a great week:)
This is such a great post! You made your son’s day! I’ve dragged my parents so many times to amusement parks, now knowing all the work that was to be done at home, but they still packed up the car and went. I even mentioned that we should all make another trip to Cedar Point this summer because there is a new ride. Of course my parents smiled and said sure. I’m 20 years old, and my parents still drop everything for me just to take me to an amusement park. This post reminded me of how truly blessed I am to have my parents! Thank you!
Sounds like you have a wonderful family!
What a great post. I often have moments when I’m ranting at the kids for not taking their lunch boxes out of their bags, leaving their shoes in the middle of the floor for me to trip on (“I’ll break my neck one of these days!”) or the general chaotic mess that is my home when I suddenly stop. Breathe. Realise that none of this really matters. Being lucky enough to have a family is the important thing. Watching my children grow and sharing their little lives is a joy and a privilege. It’s not easy being a mum but then nothing worth having is easy. Very inspiring post thank you.
Thank you for reading and sharing! Yes, it’s hard to avoid getting distracted by the mundane. Enjoy your family.
I just went to Six Flags last Tuesday on a class field trip too. It was my first time to ride on roller coasters. I have to say that I was more nervous about losing my glasses than the rides. I waited for an hour for the Flight X but it was all worth it! And one of ride got stuck after I got off. Lucky me…
Croakies are essential for eye-glass-wearers at amusement parks!
what a great post. We could all do less laundry and just ‘live’. So sad about the boy – heartbreaking and just makes me want to go and cuddle my own teenager
Thank you for reading and commenting! Yes, please cuddle your teenager. Even when they roll their eyes at us, they secretly love being cuddled.
Reblogged this on xtremelust.
Thank you for sharing!
Absolutely right. This week marked the 1 year anniversary of a gorgeous 13 year old girl in my area who committed suicide. It shook every mother I know to the core. It made us all hug our kids that much tighter–unfortunately it’s stories like those that give the rest of us a reality check. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine and forget what’s important. I currently have 3 loads of laundry waiting to be folded but instead I snuggled with my daughter on the couch and listened to the rain.
What a tragedy for this girl, her family, and the community. We must let our children know that they can safely express their feelings of anger and stress (and more) and know they are still loved – and that life expands and gets more hopeful. Thank you.
this is a very nice post.
Reblogged this on Lil Misti's Random Raucous.
Thank you for sharing!
[…] When my children suggest an activity, can I say “Yes!” instead of “Not now, I need to do the laundry.” […]
[…] she died, I had to return to my busy busy life, making lunches, pleasing clients, doing laundry. You know, the important stuff of life. My family, my friends, my colleagues offered genuine […]