You never know the depth or breadth of your stress and emotional triggers until you are crying over a burnt grilled cheese sandwich.
Tonight, I needed to make an easy dinner. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is that simple, satisfying meal that the kids and I both love. I set out punching geometrical shapes into the bread for their sandwiches. I toasted them. Dished up the soup. Had a flash of silliness–and I found the easy cheese in the cupboard. I wrote their initials into their sandwiches and arranged them on plates. I announced “Annabel’s restaurant is open,” which is the nightly dinner bell in our house.
I turned to show them their cheesy initials and in those 20 seconds, I burned my husband’s sandwich. And I cried. Moments from my childhood flashed through my mind–pressure, stress, cruelty at the hands of a cold, distant mother. Failure. I am not cut out for this. I am a bad wife and parent. Crazy flooded my mind and I blinked and blinked until I couldn’t blink anymore and tears dumped in wet, sloppy puddles on my cheeks. Henry’s eyes flashed irritated and I reddened in frustration, emotion, and shame. The adrenaline of anxiety had taken oven and all I could do was ride the wave.
Reflecting now, I understand that even when the kids aren’t interested in my dinner, or a dinner ends up in the garbage, I am my own worst critic. The kids dance and laugh and hug me all evening. The husband thanks me and runs his fingers through my hair. And in a loop–like a scratched record–I hear my mother’s voice in my head. Until I take the time to let the little voices laughing drown it out. You cannot cry for long when a three year old is raising his eyebrows at you and winking.