Somewhere in between my children waking me up by singing Jamaican Nyabinghi chants in bed one week or so ago, and them falling asleep on a borrowed queen-sized futon that night was one completely exhausting day.
I got us all out the door early so I could stop by the mobile blood center and donate early so we could start our long Labor Day weekend. The kids went to play with their Dad at the park across the street. I met them on a bench after an intense hour of play, and traded out with my husband so he could get in a session at the skatepark. I’d look across to watch him whizz through the park, carving lines back and finding the best paths. It is part of what I love about him – his devotion to his hobbies, from what instrument he chooses to play in his band to the deep historical knowledge he has of skateboard culture. There he was. Active, and enjoying his weekend.
My focus turned to the kids. I walked over to the car, and watched them as I grabbed a snack out of the trunk. When I took it over, they went ravenous and I had to dole out equitable shares to both. As they were chattering, I looked over my shoulder to see my husband’s hat askew – noticeable because he always has his hair tucked under his hat when he skates. He walked towards the car holding his arm. A park-goer commented that it was a pretty hard fall and offered my husband a Codeine. I wanted to look up the closest urgent care office, but Husband snapped and insisted that it just needed to be iced. The kids hopped into the car. I drove two blocks before my daughter said, “I’M NOT BUCKLED IN!” to which I pulled the car over and hastily clicked her into her seat. Somehow this landed me behind a driver from Oklahoma who was going 25 in a 35 zone. She almost drove into oncoming traffic and it became apparent that I needed to hover on both the horn and the brake to keep us all alive.
Yet one more reason that I love living in a cohousing community is that when your spouse breaks an arm, others are there to tell him that it looks “wrong” and will offer him a ride to the emergency room while you distract your children from the ickiness of it all. Another neighbor stepped in to provide water when the adrenaline blew my just-donated-blood self sideways. Yet another read books to my kids while I straightened up my house and gathered things to take to the hospital.
When I walked out the door to go visit my husband, I entered a realm I hadn’t been to before. One where my children weren’t invited to – the space where one confronts extreme pain and grit. Where kisses don’t really cut it on those bigger boo boo’s. Neighbors stayed with the kids until my husband’s parents could take over. I brought my husband home from the emergency room that night, but I was fiercely protective of his swollen broken arm – deflecting our children as they tried to climb in bed with him.
This broken bone has thrown a wrench in our plans. I am in my car all day driving my family from one end of Seattle to another. I am cleaning, laundering, cooking, parenting, and did I mention we are currently hosting an international visitor for two weeks? My fuse is short, and my days are long – but I feel vital and needed in this family. Everyone is depending on me to keep it together, and I’m doing it. And with each day that passes, I get more and more help from that one good arm on my partner. He is pouring the kids cereal and pulling out the sneakers they need to put on as we head out the door.
I wouldn’t want to live in this emotional fever pitch all the time, but I am appreciating the little moments of connection and sweetness that come from being shaken out of our regular roles and routines.