The Bisque that Broke the Camel’s Back

CryingAs I sat in the grocery store parking lot, car running, trying to pull myself together, I heard my cell phone ping alerting me to a new text message. My eyes were swollen and red from intense crying and my nose was running, partially due to an oncoming cold but mostly from the hysterics.

*Have the kids eaten dinner yet?*

I can’t even have a nervous breakdown in peace.

Rewind to earlier that day. It was a Monday and I was home with the kids, due to the “we take all the {paid} holidays!!!11” daycare policy. Life lately has been hellish, on all fronts. And I was preparing for another relatively stressful week, while also brewing what I’d discover 4 days later to be Bronchitis.

If it’s not already obviously by the introduction, this story is not going to end well.

I actually had a pretty good day off with the kids. As you can see from the enclosed photo, they were well behaved and adorable most of the day. As any parent of 2 will agree, there is this elusive thing that we seek often. We may even pray for it. But kind of like the Loch Ness Monster or the Chupacabra, some parents have only heard of it as legend. Yet for some, the lucky ones, it has actually been achieved. It is… the Double Nap. 2 kids, napping, simultaneously.

At approximately 1:07 pm on Monday October 13th, it happened. In my house, under my supervision. And it was glorious.

I used double nap time to start making soup for a Crock Pot Cook-Off contest that some asshole with no sense of when enough is enough (a.k.a., me) suggested for work the following day. This was to be semi-lengthy process, as anyone that knows me can attest, I am no Julia Childs.

I began my endeavor, following the recipe meticulously. It involved intricate things, such as cooking bacon and peeling squash. Boiling and stirring and simmering and measuring. I took my time and moved slowly, taking extra care as to not disturb my dueling sleepers just in the next room.

Fast forward a couple hours. The children were up and so my soup making process was slowed. I figured I’d just wait until Tristan got home to finish the final steps of adding the evaporated milk and the last dash of this and that. No big deal…if I can achieve Double Nap, I can do anything.

I had been teetering on mental instability for quite a few weeks. Literally hanging on by a thread. Work had been 50-60 hours of stress each week. I had been in and out of the doctor’s office for stomach pains. I’m talking online courses toward my MBA, currently enrolled in a course on the captivating and mesmerizing topic of Business Law with 3 or 4 assignments due each week. Our rental apartment flooded. I misjudged a due date on one of our big bills, so we were under financial stress. I hadn’t been sleeping well, and basically everything and everyone was getting on my nerves. Okay yes, everything and everyone usually get on my nerves but this was, like, amplified.

In the hindsight that these last 10 months has provided me, I was entirely unprepared for just how exhausted I would become upon returning to work full-time. Having been through it once before, I didn’t think I would struggle so much with the adjustment back after Nora. But when you double the amount of your offspring, it seems you quadruple your stress. Everything takes twice as long, twice the effort, and is twice as exhausting. And somewhere in there 2×2=4, so quadruple stress seems accurate. But who has time for math these days? Let’s move on.

Every week day, I give nearly all of myself at work. And at 5:30, the kids get the teeny, tiny sliver that remains. Even then, they have to split it. By the time they are in bed, I literally have nothing left to give. Nothing for school work. Nothing for this blog. (Did you notice how long it has been!?) Certainly nothing for my poor husband. Nothing for the dogs or the house or the laundry or those people who I think are still my friends. Definitely nothing for myself.

But really, how hard is it to make soup? I had all day, with a Double Nap. 4 hours in and it was going just fine. How can you go wrong?

I had asked Tristan the night before if we had evaporated milk, because I was making my list and checking it twice before I went to the store and purchased all of the ingredients I needed. He confirmed that we had 3 jars. Excellent. Fabulous. Perfect. Neither of us gave any consideration to how long they had been sitting in the pantry.

Charlie turns 3 in November. Apparently around the same time he was born, Tristan and I purchased 3 cans of evaporated milk. No more words are needed here.

Since one of the cans had already been dumped into my carefully crafted dish, it was all over. And that was it; my final straw. The bisque that broke the camel’s back. I was done too.

I don’t even really remember what I did or what I said. It was a blur. But I do know it involved a lot of yelling and throwing things, dumping the soup down the drain and slamming the pot back down on the stove. Lots of F words. Doors slamming. I quickly showered and got myself looking presentable enough to go out, buy all the ingredients again, and start over.

So there I sat, sobbing in the grocery store parking lot. Not because the soup was ruined or because everything in life is so, SO difficult right now. But because I was just kept asking myself, who is the person? Who have I become? And I had no idea how to answer that. For the first time, I felt like a massive failure as a parent.

A week later, I am still upset at myself. My entire life, I have feared becoming this kind of parent. The kind of parent with little patience and an abundance of pent-up rage. The parent that requires eggshells. I had this kind of parent. My father was terrifying behind closed doors. His triggers would result in the kitchen table being flipped upside down, food flying, everyone running for cover. I can’t live like this, but more so, I won’t force my children to live this way.

So now I start on a journey to fix this. Repair the damage that I’ve done to myself, as a person, and to my family. I’m not even entirely sure where to start. But I know it involved writing it down. I know it involves focusing on myself sometimes. Putting my oxygen mask on first. It involves not allowing 20 staff people to drain the life out of me in 8 hours. It might involve Zoloft or Zanax, that is TBD. It involves exercising and eating healthy food. It involves spending time with my children and my husband… but, I mean – really spending time with them. No cell phone, no distractions. It means taking in all of the things about our lives that are great. Because we are healthy and employed and have a roof over our head and food in our bellies. It involves not feeling guilty for putting myself and my family first.

I ended up calling out sick from work the day of the Crock-Pot Contest. Because, like I said, I ended up with a nasty case of Bronchitis. I did end up making the second batch of soup, which did get rave reviews the following day. In fact, everyone keeps asking me for the recipe. I thought about revising the final steps to reflect my true process before distributing it…

  • Throw massive tantrum
  • Cry at Hannaford
  • Start all over again
  • Begin extensive introspection about your life
  • Garnish with bacon and a dollop of sour cream
  • Enjoy!



2 thoughts on “The Bisque that Broke the Camel’s Back

  1. Pingback: Goodbye, Invisible Child « Turn This Car Around

  2. Pingback: So, I've got Prozac in my purse. « Turn This Car Around

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