Beware of Glow-in-the-Dark Sharks
March 13th, 2016
I read somewhere that sharks must swim constantly, even when they’re asleep. If they stop swimming, they die. I can totally relate. When you’re a parent, it often feels like you’re constantly in motion and that if you stop – even for a moment – you’ll become overwhelmed and drown.
While I’m thrashing about, trying to avoid drowning, I frequently hear the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay rattling around my head:
“My candle burns at both ends / It will not last the night / But ah my foes, and oh my friends / it gives a pretty light.”
Preach, sister. Never was there a more apt description of parenthood. I’m pretty sure my candle’s got way more than two ends and they’re all on fire. Tap class. Hip hop. Art class. Children’s choir. PTO meeting. Evening work commitments. Bible study. Book club. Homework. Dinner. Dentist appointments. Birthday parties.
This parenting thing is utterly exhausting – but there’s so much light, too. My kids are happy and healthy and deeply silly. “Family dinner” sometimes means McDonalds in the church basement before choir practice, but at least we’re together. And if we spend a lot of time in the car shuttling two and fro, it’s a great chance to sing at the top of our lungs.
However, I’m here to tell you that if you get too caught up in shark-life or go overboard with your candle conflagration, you’re going to run into trouble. Last week, my body decided it had had enough. It was time to STOP. I reached down to pick up a pair of socks off the floor and my back went totally and spectacularly “out.” One second I was preparing to go to work, and the next I was lying on the floor unable to walk. I spent the next 48 hours on the couch. Attempting to stand set off painful muscle spasms, movement of any kind was iffy, and it hurt just to sit upright.
So I did absolutely nothing for two days. It was incredibly difficult for me. Despite the pain and the knowledge that my husband had the household under control, I was nearly spastic with concern about all the things I wasn’t doing. I should be doing laundry! Or dishes! Or planning for the PTO book sale! Or tagging clothing items for the next consignment sale! Or making lemon antipasto for an art reception!
But I just couldn’t. So instead I watched an entire season of Criminal Minds on Netflix and a terrible Seth Rogan movie I’m embarrassed to admit I enjoyed.
I’ve been mixing my metaphors with the sharks and the candles, but the bottom line is this: if you encounter a mother who bears a strong resemblance to a glow-in-the-dark shark, she’s probably on the verge of some sort of breakdown. You should give her chocolate and suggest a good series on Netflix for her to enjoy after she collapses.