The house is quiet, dark but for the backyard motion sensor light. It flashes on as it is jostled by the wind, casting vague shadows on the curtains. The boys sleep, finally silenced by the exhaustion they always refuse to acknowledge. The dog clickety-clacks through the darkened rooms, looking for a soft place to land. And the husband breathes deeply beside me, well into the dreams he began down on the couch earlier in the evening. I lie there, half-asleep.
This is when the gremlins come out to play.
They whisper to me, getting louder and more insistent the more I try to ignore them and try to sleep.
The homeschooling won’t work, you know. You’re just in the easy honeymoon stage. Once more structured curriculum is introduced, you’ll be back to the battles, but they’ll be all day. And you won’t be allowed to complain, because this was your idea. The best part? There.Is.No.Plan.B.
You do realize that you’re just not going to make any friends here, right? It’s been six months and you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve gone out. You’re never going to have the kind of tight-knit community you had back in Colorado. The sooner you accept that, the better.
The minutes tick by. I toss and turn; blankets on, blankets off.
Your book is going to suck. Doesn’t matter what you do or how hard you work, it’s going to be a miserable piece of shit. No one wants to read about raising a twice-exceptional kid. No one believes these kids exist. And you have a hard enough time finding the funny on a daily basis; getting that onto the page? Right. Good luck with that.
The economy is not going to improve. You’re never going to find a part-time job to help stabilize the family budget. Regardless of how desperately you all need a vacation, it isn’t going to happen. Home improvements? And the massive remodeling project you want to undertake? Will.Never.Happen. You built your dream home in Colorado and left it there. Better just accept that. It’s easier that way. Just keep praying your rapidly aging van keeps trucking on. Peace of mind? No.
Music on, music off. The husband rolls over and begins to snore.
J is getting lost in all this. He’s such a quiet and loving kid, and he’s going to grow up resenting you because his squeaky wheel sibling needed so much. And A has never handled change well. You’ve thrown more change at that kid in the last few years than he could reasonably handle and you wonder why he lashes out? Way to go, mom. There’s an award for you around here somewhere.
You’ve wasted your 38 years on this planet, Jen. What have you done with your life? You were given every opportunity: a loving family, a great education, citizenship in a country that rewards hard work. You have little to show for your time here. The people you grew up with have careers and recognition that match their similar upbringing; you see them in print and on the news. You’ve done nothing.
A trip to the bathroom, a drink of water. Surely sleep must come soon. But no. The gremlins have saved their best for last.
The best part, Jen, is that none of it matters. Someday you’re going to be cold and dead in the ground, and none of what you do or work for or care about will matter.
Blessed, dreamless sleep.
The day breaks with the sun glinting off the snow from the previous day’s storm. The gremlins are banished for another day, their whispers gone from my ears. Life is good.
Until the bed is warm and the house is dark and the gremlins again come out to play.