If I’m being honest, it is getting increasingly difficult to write about my life in this public space. It’s easy to post a funny story about my foibles, or rant about something in the media. But life at home is heavy – probably about as heavy as it has ever been.
I’ve told the story before of how whenever someone is mean to India at school, she comes home and repeats whatever mean phrase she heard to me, in a way to become the aggressor instead of the wounded. It makes her feel some sense of power to take out the hurt by inflicting it on someone else. And when India does it, it’s usually something rather benign, something silly that would make for a funny story later, when she’s out of earshot.
Now Kembe, on the other hand. Kembe has three years of pent-up wounding, and he is feeling out of control as he learns to live in a family. Much like India, his three-year-old self looks to the safe people in his life to experiment with power and aggression. And the behaviors that result are not things that make for a funny blog story. They are often a little horrifying, really.
So I struggle with how to describe the ways our family is hurting, because I don’t think exposing his brokeness in specific ways is honoring him. I believe that Kembe is a good kid – an absolutely lovely kid at heart. But at the same time, I feel the need to be honest about the fact that the last few months have been some of the darkest for our family. As we (all five of us) have become the recipients of his trauma in different ways, it seems like we are all living under a cloud of anxiety.
Kembe and I both fake it well, in our own ways. Kembe is absolutely charming with people outside our immediate family. He has a million-dollar smile and a hilarious sense of humor. I’m sure to the outside world it looks like we have it together. At home, it is a very different story. And me, I hide behind sarcasm . . . or just plain hide. In my house. For days. Only emerging for preschool pick-up and the occasional playdate, where I try to pretend like we are a normal family, capable of doing Normal Family Things. Some moments, I even feel normal. Those moments are fleeting.
I know that we will get there. But enduring this season is harder than I ever imagined.
I was talking to a friend about it the other day, and she told me that she was surprised to hear how bad I was struggling. She assumed I was doing alright because I’m still posting snarky status updates and blog posts. And I suppose that sometimes, social media is the easy place where I can fake it . . . and not because I want to pretend for others. But because I need to pretend for myself. I can pop in and profess concern about the LOST finale or some other water cooler chat fodder, because it makes me feel normal. It gives me a reprieve from the all-consuming realities of our day-to-day right now. And because nobody wants to see “Kristen is contemplating how she can best muffle her audible crying from four small children” in their facebook feed, do they? (And because, dammit, I don’t want that to be true. Even if it is).
(Case in point: today. 4pm. Jafta: “Mommy, what’s that sound? Do you have the hiccups or something?”)
So, yeah. I fake it. But not really for you. For me.