It is 6:00 and I’m making dinner. My youngest is whining and refusing to eat her dinner (no surprise) and she needs a bath. Her older siblings are outside in the backyard jumping on our trampoline with five or six other neighborhood kids. Twenty-two shoes, a million inside out socks, along with sippy cups, empty bags of chips, a bottle of bubbles, a sweatshirt, two hula hoops, a water gun, and a princess dress decorate the grass.
In her highchair, my baby crumbles crackers and drops them to the salivating dog below. The sink is full of dishes. The living room is littered with toys. I need a shower myself but need to oversee the other kids’ showers first; they will come in with dirty feet, sweaty faces, and clumps of cut grass clinging to their clothes.
I feel like I’m leaning my head inside a giant megaphone into which the kids outside are funneling all of their voices. Everything is…amplified.
Calling my kids in to eat is a toss up; if the rest of their friends are still out there jumping, I lose. If I ask everyone to leave so we can have a peaceful, quiet meal, I lose. If I let the others stay, my two pout watching all the fun outside and complain about it. It does me in. Ergo, I lose.
It’s been a long day and the evening stretches its limbs out before me. I take the salmon and sweet potatoes out of the oven, wrap them in foil. “You have 15 minutes left to play!” I yell out the back door to my other children, who ignore me completely.
I take my squirmy worm up to the bath. While she plays with her ducks and the tub fills, I sit on the toilet and realize I’ve had to pee for several hours.
I sink down on the floor next to the tub and lose myself watching my chunky baby splash and squeal. Hiding out up here where it’s not as noisy is a balm to my soul.
Until I remember bits of the conversation with our neighbor from last night. “You know, it’s just that we grew up in a really small town. We don’t know much about this stuff. We’ve never really known anyone with depression,” he said. Yes, he really said that. To my face. That’s when I realized it was pointless; there are some people who will always treat some of us like space aliens.
And those are the people I choose not to involve myself with anymore.