Friday, November 14, 2008

Fighting the Chickens

My sister once told me, “There is no such thing as PMS. People can sense when you’re going to get your period and they do everything possible to irritate the hell out of you.” Of course this isn’t true, but that’s EXACTLY how I have felt for at least several days every month since I turned 14. I’m about to turn 42, and frankly, my hormones appear to be going a little wacky which would explain why this sort of PMS paranoia breaks out randomly several times a month now. Fortunately, it’s only half of what’s going on in my head.

You see, the other, logical half of my brain watches all this nutty irritability like it’s entertainment. When all the little stuff that ordinarily occurs in my life starts irritating Hormonal Me, Logical Me sees exactly what’s going on and smirks in a smugly superior way that just further irritates the heck out of Hormonal Me but also occasionally keeps Hormonal Me in check.

Does this make sense? If you’re a woman, you’re probably nodding yes and you know exactly what I’m talking because you have years of personal experience with it. If you’re a man, you’ve probably already clicked off this webpage.

Logical Me knows that because I have two little boys, a husband, an old dog, and a house with three toilets, I am bound to experience little irritations daily. Logical Me just rolls her eyes at these irritants and gets over them almost immediately. Logical Me is mature, realistic, smart, and happy. Logical Me has a healthy sense of perspective.

Hormonal Me feels like she is being pecked to death by chickens. Keep in mind—nothing in my life has changed from the previous day (or minute) that Logical Me was in charge. But when Hormonal Me takes over, I yell, I mutter under my breath, I scowl, and I clean like crazy because Hormonal Me has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hormonal Me is immature, unrealistic, stupid, and miserable. Hormonal Me is, in short, crazy.

Like my husband says, “I don’t know how you women put up with this crap.”

Allow me to illustrate. Consider Jack. My darling son is the sweetest thing on earth. Whenever I say “don’t stand on that chair” or “don’t jump on the bed” or “no more candy,” my little angel throws his arms around me and says, “But I thought you LOVED me, Mommy!” Awww, how cute is that? This same angel turned into a devil recently when we were waiting for his speech therapist. He wanted to play with the light switch in the waiting area, and I said, “No.” He turned on me with a demonic expression and snarled, “But I WANT to, you IDIOT!”

The very first thought that popped into my head—and thankfully not out of my mouth because Logical Me was in charge—was “What the HELL?” This child worships me. I am the center of his universe. Logical Me, who is a reasonably good parent, responded to this shocking development like a grown-up and immediately told him he was in “red”—meaning he can’t watch movies for three days. Going to red is pure torture and totally traumatic for Jack. It’s also highly effective. He has told me daily since, “Mommy, I’m not going to call you idiot.” He remembers this lesson and will do so for a l-o-n-g time. Logical Me experiences such sweet fruits of victory frequently.

Logical Me also knows that Jack has issues with change, and I usually plan for this. For example, the transition from summer to winter means Jack has to wear new clothes, which really bothers him. With a little planning and patience on my part, he adjusts to dressing appropriately for the weather. Hormonal Me forgets this and just reacts in the moment, which leads to scenes like last Sunday when I yelled at my angel while forcing long pants on his body so we could go to church. He cried “No! No! NO!” the whole time, and when the pants were on his reluctant little body, he threw his arms around me and said, “But I thought you LOVED me, Mommy!”

Grrr. Defeated by my own childishness. Do you think there’s a special circle in Hell for mommies who yell at their children before church? Please don’t answer that.

Another chicken pecking Hormonal Me to death right now is my son Nick. He’s addicted to a hot new toy called Bakugon, which appears to be like Pokemon only on steroids. I’ve been hearing a lot about these strange toys and their levels, abilities, and trips to the Doom Dimension. Logical Me remembers that as a young teen I was addicted to Battlestar Galactica, the old series with Lorne Green, Richard Hatch, and Dirk Benedict—how sad I remember those names! Who am I to complain about my children’s annoying obsessions? It’s entirely pointless to fight karma.

But when Nick learned there was a Bakugon television show weekday mornings at 6:30, Hormonal Me just about exploded with an irrational desire personally to hang, draw, and quarter whatever idiot invented this crap. Then, Hormonal Me thought, gee, if I get him one, maybe I won’t have to listen to the whining. I told you Hormonal Me was stupid. Employees at Target and Toys R Us told me these toys fly off the shelves as soon as they are stocked, which made Hormonal Me shop multiple times in hopes of “getting lucky.”

I remember a time when “getting lucky” really was a lot more fun.

Because Nick’s birthday is coming up and these are the only toys he wants, Logical Me enlisted the aide of my mother, mother-in-law, and sister—who all live in different states—to look for Bakugons. I have received cell-phone calls from Target in Charlotte, Walmart in Grand Junction, and Toys R Us in the greater Annapolis area. I can now report that the Bakugon trend is going strong in the south and west, where none of the individual Bakugon packs are to be found for love or money. Maryland, however, has either moved past the trend or is lagging behind, or my sister just got lucky, because she easily hit the mother lode. She kindly bought a boxful of the stuff and shipped it to me.

Then my sister-in-law asked what Nick wanted for his birthday, and I told her about Bakugons, thinking maybe she’d get lucky, too. She walked into Target, found a Bakugon tin, and reported that “a kid staring at the stuff with his eyes glazed over said that it was ‘way cool.’” So she bought it for Nick.

Thanks to Lisa and Angela, Nick’s ninth birthday will not be a tragic event to be analyzed by his psychiatrist at a later date. Aunts are wonderful, and Logical Me is very grateful. Hormonal Me, not so much, because we did finally find a Bakugon for Nick to buy himself, and I’m still hearing about this nonsensical stuff daily, about trading the cards and toys, about the Doom Dimension. Really, don’t we have enough doom in our own dimension without having to look for it in others? I think after he opens the Mother Lode of Bakugon Birthday Presents on his birthday, Hormonal Me is the one who’s doomed.

Logical Me cleaned the basement a few weeks ago. It’s a really, really good thing that Hormonal Me was quiescent at the time or I would have gone postal by the time my family got home. The basement was a total mess, not only cluttered and disorderly with storage bins vomiting forth their contents onto the floor, but also dirty with dust, cobwebs, dead spiders, and those little round balls that get trapped in old cobwebs and look like mouse poop but aren’t. Eww. There’d also been an accident with a leaf-bag full of shredded paper. I handled this all quite cheerfully, and six hours later, my basement was clean and orderly.

Last Sunday night, however, Hormonal Me couldn’t take another minute of the mess in the family room. It had been there all week, and Logical Me would just glance at it, shrug, and go to the craft room to make something fun. The kids were in bed when Hormonal Me struck, which really ticked me off because they should have been cleaning up their mess, not I. George was trying to watch television while I dashed madly back and forth tossing toys into a bin, picking DVD cases up off the floor and organizing them on the shelves, and toting cups back to the kitchen. The whole whirlwind cleaning process took about seven frantic minutes.

At the end, George asked, “Susan, why do you do this? It’s time to relax, and here you are running around like it can’t wait.” Hormonal Me wanted to scream, “Because it CAN’T wait another MINUTE, you IDIOT! Can’t you see that!?!?” Logical Me intervened and sent Hormonal Me skulking back into my ovaries for some time in “red.” Logical Me sat down and watched something highly interesting on television with my ever-so-logical and darling husband. If we hadn’t both been so tired, he would have gotten lucky that night.

On the whole, Logical Me seems to be winning this war for my soul, which is some small comfort on those occasions when Hormonal Me scores a victory.

How DO we women put up with this crap? Pecked by the chickens as I am, I clearly don’t have a good answer, but I do recommend prayer and deep breathing.

A little red wine certainly won’t hurt, either.


  1. (hugs)!! Kids, life!!

  2. You're seriously my twin and we were separated at birth. Apollo was my one and only movie star crush. We're a litle behind the times here - Bakugon only flies off the shelf if my son is in the store with his allowance. (((hugs))) to ya, girl, and I'll join you in that circle in Hell. I yell at my kids every Sunday morning: "YES YOU HAVE TO GO! NO YOU CAN'T WEAR THAT OUTFIT! YES YOU HAVE TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH! NO YOU CAN'T TAKE YOUR NINTENDO!" See you there!


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