When I was in my teen years and became aware of all the jokes about PMS and “that time of the month”, I remember wondering what the big deal was. I used to get wicked bad cramps, but that was about it. I didn’t find that my mood became altered (although I guess I was sort of bitchy all the time) and if I did I chalked it up to the fact that I was doubled over in physical pain and really who can expect a girl to be all sunshiney when it feels like someone is knifing her from the inside out.
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I began to suspect that tears that came out of nowhere over nothing or losing my temper and yelling as if someone had committed a personal injustice to me instead of just a car cutting me off on the freeway might have something to do with my hormones. A few days later when my period would start, a light would dawn on my brain and it all became clear. So THAT’s why I’ve been acting like a total lunatic. Whew. And then I would forget until the next sob session the following month.
Now, that isn’t to say I am not sentimental/emotional/sensitive anyway. I’ve been known to tear up (or full-on cry) over any number of things at any given time. But it is when usually “safe” topics set me off that I realize I might be in trouble. Like when the guy at the gym suggested I talk over the swimming lesson fees with my non-existent husband to see if we could afford it or when I was talking to G about why we celebrate MLK day and why Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an important man. I was reading in a book from the “I have a dream” speech and crying and my son is patting my arm like, it’s ok, mommy… I mean, what do you DO with that?
And then there is the extra bitchiness. In the past I was able to crawl into a little hole or just be anti-social or just warn my friends that my tongue might be razor-sharp and apologize in advance for such things. As a mom, I can’t avoid the boys for a week while I’m in the throes of hormonal flux. Nor can I really explain it to them. There is the old joke that PMS stands for “Putting up with Men’s Shit”. I’m afraid that for me and the boys it is more like “Putting up with My Shit”! My OB-GYN once told me that she had a patient that would mark the days on the calendar that her husband and children should avoid her. A little extreme, but hey! I get it. Of course, I don’t have a husband to take on kid duty so I don’t freaking lose my mind over stupid stuff, but I’m trying to get better with my warning system to the boys.
Like this weekend while I am mopping the floor and the @*#&^%#& mop keeps coming unscrewed and also scraping the floor and I can feel my blood boiling and every 30 seconds I hear “Mom?” “Mommy?” “MOM!” and have to answer some question or play referee or view the new arrangement of stuffed animals in someone’s room. So finally I tell them that Mommy is about to lose her mind, not because of anything that they did because of course they are perfect little angels, but because the god-forsaken mop is making her crazy and that if they don’t stop interrupting her that she might snap at them and be mean when really she is just angry at the mop. And this sort of rationale helped them (I think) although they probably noted it somewhere in the back of their minds that their mother is a nutjob who gets mad at mops. But better than me yelling at them!
Last night, G was sent to his room after dinner because he gave me trouble over my dessert ruling and then while I was trying to explain to him why we can’t have dessert every night he was staring at me with the most contempt a 6-year old can muster. The kid’s facial expressions are amazing! He could totally win an academy award some day. But in the meantime, I can’t stand when he makes this “face” at me and I was so mad I thought I might explode so I sent him to his room and took a timeout myself. Once he is in the shower and we’ve both calmed down and I ask him if he wants to talk he goes on this whole long explanation about how sometimes he just gets pouty and mad out of nowhere and it is nothing really that I’ve done to make him mad because like with the dessert he didn’t have all the healthy things he needed to and he gets it, but at the moment he just gets this feeling inside and then he makes “the face” and then he knows mommy has seen “the face” and that I’m going to get mad, but that he just can’t control it and then he’s sorry, but it is just this weird feeling that happens sometimes…and then he says, have you ever felt that way?
Oh darling boy, you have no idea!