My life is, by all accounts, a good life. I’m healthy. I have a job, a husband, great kids, a home, and good friends. I really have nothing to complain about. But guess what? Sometimes I like to throw a good old-fashioned pity party and be bummed out about stuff. Sometimes life is tough and I just want to scream, “What About Me?” I try to be reasonable and understand that there are bigger problems going on around me and my needs are not, in the grand scheme of things, that important. But truthfully, I sometimes just don’t give a shit, and like a stubborn toddler I want everybody else to put me first, support me, and celebrate me. Is that really so much to ask?
Yesterday (Sunday) I attended an awards ceremony of the Society of Southwestern Authors, a lovely group of local writers who were kind enough to judge two of my short stories worthy of writing awards. While this is fairly small potatoes in the vast world of writing, I was tickled pink to be recognized and wanted to revel in this achievement for, oh I don’t know, a day? Maybe two? But the universe decided that now would be a great time for several shits to hit several fans and make it difficult for me to simply enjoy this small personal victory. First, my husband was assigned the very first time slot for a presentation at the Geological Society of America meeting in Vancouver, which just so happened to be the Sunday morning of the ceremony. He had to jet out of town on Saturday, leaving me to play single mom. Normally my mother would babysit, but it also just so happens that she had to be out of town this weekend caring for a family member going through a serious surgery. A couple of days before the ceremony I heard that the buyers for our old house backed out of the deal at the 11th hour. On top of all that, we spent the two days before my husband left town cleaning up rodent shit at our family cabin, and upon returning home had to retrieve my mother’s dog from her empty house and bring her home with us, thus adding to our already chaotic household. I imagined Saturday as a down day, with me in my pajamas, doing laundry, writing, and sipping coffee while my boys stared at cartoons, played their electronic devices, and largely left me alone. Instead, my older son invited a friend over, which turned into a five-hour play date, and then took off for a sleepover, leaving me alone with my jealous and needy six-year-old who wanted to have our own slumber party. So much for writing and sipping coffee.
And so the day came. Sunday. Awards ceremony day. My day. Only it wasn’t my day. I woke up early to a squeaking dog that had to be quickly whisked out of her crate to the backyard before she urinated on my carpet. Next, feed the young boy, fetch the older boy from his sleepover, get them both dressed, teeth brushed, get myself showered, get both dogs fed, watered and out to piss again (which is quite a feat with my mother’s dog, who insists on wandering around my yard for twenty minutes sniffing the ground and eating rabbit turds but refusing to do her business), and drive the kids to a friend’s house. Amidst all of the chaos I simply could not revel in the moment. How was I supposed to find a way to let it all go and enjoy my small victory? How could I think about my tiny joy when someone I love was facing surgery? How could I take it all in when I had to find a sitter for my kids, take care of two dogs, set up a time to show my supposed-to-be sold house, and somehow make myself presentable? I wanted to scream, “What about fucking me?” Although it was nobody’s fault that all of these things happened on the same weekend, I felt like my little success was completely drowned out in the big, important goings on of everyone else in my life. Yes, this sounds petty, and immature, and extremely silly of me. But there it is. Haven’t you ever felt this way? I think sometimes we all need our little successes to be sacred. We need our personal achievements, even if they are not Nobel Prize caliber, to be recognized, revered, and allowed to flourish unimpeded. It just doesn’t always happen that way.
Look, I have wonderful people in my life. They support and encourage me. They are proud of me. They love me. But sometimes it feels like I am support staff for everyone else’s needs and desires, and my stuff just has to come last. I know this is not always true. But I think we all feel this way sometimes, that our own stuff gets pushed aside because it seems less important than what’s going on around us. Because life happens, and shit doesn’t always go down the way we want it to. It is perfectly reasonable to need to be the most important person in your circle of people sometimes. Especially when you have accomplished something you are proud of, and worked hard for. I have a great life, but I can still feel invisible, unimportant, and overextended sometimes. We all do.
It’s my pity party and I will cry if I want to. And then I will get over it, and get on with my fabulously chaotic life.