Thursday, October 25, 2012

Our Little Baby Girl

Just a Headache

It is the middle of the night.  Not sure when.  Maybe around 3 or 4 in the morning. One of those visits home during a break from college.  I wake to the sound of wailing -- of crying and screaming -- a mix of all those.  I throw off my comforter and jump out of bed, open the door, out to the living room, where I see my mother crouched on the sofa in front of the window, rumpled in her pajamas, her hands covering her head.  The wailing, crying, screaming streaming out of her.  Tears falling out of her eyes.  In pain, she is in pain.  She is wailing, crying, screaming in pain.  What, what's going on, what's wrong?  I ask as I approach.  My father and brother, still in their pajamas, stand by the side of the TV as she sits alone.

Her head hurts, my dad says.  It's okay.  Go back to sleep.

Mom, what's wrong?  Are you okay?  Where does it hurt?

As I approach, she flinches, as if afraid to be touched.  She continues to wail, cry, scream.  She does not answer.  Cries and cries.  More tears dropping out of her now closed eyes.  Her arms wrapped around her head.  Crouched on the sofa, her feet bare.  Rocking like a caged monkey.

I step back, afraid to cause her more pain.

Go back to sleep, my dad repeats.  She'll be okay.

Okay?  What do you mean she'll be okay?  She's not okay.  Look at her.  How long has she been crying like this?

Not too long.  It'll go away.  Don't worry.

My father and brother continue to stand there.  She'll be okay, they repeat.  They do not budge.  Just stand there as if they are waiting for their sandwiches at the deli.

Throughout, my mother is wailing, crying, screaming.  Face scrunched, mouth open, tears dropping.  Gripping her head, her arms a vise.

The sound of her pain fills the room.  It is a maddening sound.  I am trapped in her cry, a cry I cannot stop.      

Dad, we have to take her to the hospital.  Something is wrong.  We have to get it checked out.  Let's go.

Just go to sleep, my father says again.  It's just a headache.  Go back to sleep.

I look at him, my eyes widening.  What do you mean it's just a headache.  Do you hear her crying?  It could be something really bad.  Why are you just standing there?  Let's go to the hospital.  Let's go.  Why are you just standing there?  Mom, let's go.  We have to go to the hospital.

My father and brother continue to stand there.  Shoulders drooping.  Expressionless.

I'm screaming.  Do you hear me?  Get the keys.  Let's get in the car.  We have to go to the hospital.  LET'S GO.  LET'S GO.  Why are we just standing here??  LET'S GO.  I'll drive her.  I'll drive her myself.  Give me the keys.  Where are they?  I'll call an ambulance.  I'll pay for it.  How much can it cost to get this checked out?  We have to take her to the hospital.

They are silent, my father and brother.

And I'm screaming and crying.  Tears dropping down my face.  Me clutching my head whirling in the madness of it all.  LET'S GO.  LET'S GO.  WE HAVE TO TAKE HER TO THE HOSPITAL.  Mom, let's go.  Let's get in the car.  LET'S GO.

And as I'm screaming, crying, and wailing, my mother looks up and pauses long enough to whisper, "It's okay.  Go to sleep.  It's just a headache."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Anger

I've never seen myself as an angry person.  In fact, I thought of myself as the opposite -- even keeled, controlled, cool headed.  I don't know if it's still the hormones or this role of being a parent, but I find myself on the edge of anger more often than I had ever been before.  The kind of anger where I clench my teeth and claw my hands.  Where I contain the urge to bash my fist into the wall.

The odd thing is I don't know where it comes from -- this anger.  Stupid little things set it off.  Seeing a stray piece of the dog's fur on my baby's mouth.  Coming back to the car and finding the adjacent car parked so closely that I can't fit in my baby's car seat.  Discovering that my three year old had again rolled and run around in his poopy diaper, so much so that the poop had oozed through the elastic and caked around his little thighs.

In those moments, I literally seethe.  Throw my arms in the air.  And clench my fist.  And release a little Argh.  Or even a God damn it!  Even in front of my three year old who is sure to repeat it with his next breath.

It is easy to forget the anger.  To pretend it hadn't overcome me as it had.  To find my voice of reason and later retell the event to a friend or to Jeff as if it were some humorous or notable episode.  To see it as just a fleeting scene that leaves no mark.

But it isn't quite so easy.  The other day, I saw my three year old -- after I had refused his request for some sugary snack -- throw his hands up in the air, as I sometimes have, and scream out Argh!  They are little video cameras, these little people.  But it's not only their witnessing.  It is also that they can sometimes be the object of my anger.  When I berate a three year old for again failing to announce that he had pooped, how does that information process in his brain?  In my reasonable brain, I know that he is three.  But in my anger, I rail about the conversation we previously had -- about how he should poop in the potty, how he should tell me when he poops, how he should know better -- expecting him to know better than a three year old could.

Everyone experiences anger, I know that.  And it can be a useful emotion -- one that alerts you and others of the gravity of the situation at hand, one that signals that you mean business.  An emotion that can be a crutch for when other emotions seem overpowering.  But what worries me is that my anger arises over such trivial matters.  That my emotions seem out of proportion to the situation at hand.  And it makes me suspect that the anger arises from something other than the immediate situation.  I'm sure if I read some books on the subject, I could educate myself on this subject.  (And if anyone has any recommendations, I'd love to read some.)

It makes me wonder what junk resides in the well of my mind that it should so overpower me.  I've been thinking for a few days that I should just write about every past incident that made me angry -- I mean, really angry -- or upset in the past.  Maybe that's one way to exorcise some of these demons.  I've heard that re-living an emotionally gripping episode from one's past can often take away the power of those events.  So I'm going to try to do that -- find some time to write about those unhappy incidents in my past.  If this blog seems skewed in portraying an angry Asian girl, that's what's going on.