Now we’re open for business, the gateway to jarring, juddering noise. A racket in a straightjacket. A hullabaloo. Curved south like a tragedy mask. Such excessive theatre! Reminiscent of your first break up from your first love, so laboured in retrospect. Arms flap and twist. Fists beat and pull. Fingers tighten to white. And release. What were you crying about? Socks on the floor. FUCKING SOCKS ON THE FUCKING FLOOR. AGAIN.
Hormones. The dreaded. NOT an excuse. NOT a reason to disparage or ignore. They are very, VERY real. They sidle in so you are uninformed of their company. They make you act NUTS. Feel NUTS. CRACKED.
But you are not NUTS. (Telling a women she is nuts does not help.)
We wonder where to place emotion, whether to add it to our tightly sealed boxes and push even deeper down. But like the plastics sprouting from the earth, it won’t stay hidden forever.
You let it out in measured bursts over non-dippy eggs and burnt toast. He lets it out over not getting shortbread for breakfast and not going outdoors in his pyjamas. When he can’t stick his fingers in a plug socket or pull knives from the kitchen drawers we hear about it. A small boy unable yet to command his feelings and incapable of calming down. Still learning. Yes, we can relate. “When the red mist descends,” you say, “I know all about it.” SOCKS ON THE FLOOR.
I feel compelled to make some kind of statement here, like; WE ARE HAPPY PEOPLE. All three of us. We laugh, share serotonin with our pizza, and I feel confident in saying we understand and appreciate what is truly important in our lives. We cuddle. My friends have commented that I seem a lot more content these days. But we are real people and I dislike the one-sidedness of social media. We all get angry, between the filtered- serenity, we all get lonely between the bubbling group shots. All we really want is to be listened to and understood.
It was only later that I recognised the hormone imbalance of post-partum. Set up with terrors of post-natal depression, sleepless hardships and an unannounced snatching of all liberties and freedoms, when you “feel fine” it’s sometimes harder to clock the wider surround-sound. It’s only when you feel truly back to yourself that you realise you weren’t feeling “normal” for the longest time.
For a while I couldn’t see the surface under the socks. You might say he should have just picked them up but an awareness of how to deal with this emotion would have better equipped us. Sensitivity is seen as a weakness but it’s not a flaw. No one should be apologising for feeling, an ability to feel makes you strong. But it’s about knowing how to process those feelings. What is this actually about, how do we make everyone feel better.
Everything is more level now. The tantrums are crabby blips on a smoother line. Frank bolts his face, he will not eat the dinner I lovingly prepared. He won’t even look at it. The other day he chose independence and stubbornness over ice cream. Votes for all the Oscars go to him and his dramatic enactments. He needs no academy training.
It’s all normal and I show little frustration in front of him. One thing we do know is not to parade our tipped-over passions around him. Never to argue with him in ear shot. I leave the kitchen and take a breath. It’s all a learning curve, I have to remind myself. We’re learning on the job.
While I’m standing in the sitting room I see, out of the corner of my eye some fabric, a pair of socks lying next to the sofa. Next to them is another pair of socks for much smaller feet. Miniature size. I have no idea how my less-than-two year old can copy his Daddy so well in the most infuriating way possible. Does he know? Are they in on it together? Luckily for them there is something so disarming about it I can’t help my smile.