A simmering meltdown

Now I wonder if other stay-at-home moms have also reached the point where they just stormed out of the house, went to a nearby bar, ordered a beer, and bought a pack of cigarettes and a lighter after more than two years. Because here I am.

One of our endearing traits as a couple, as close friends would know, is our stark differences. I wouldn’t say we are polar opposites – there’s plenty of love for anything Japan-related, comics, films, and sense of humour to share – but the differences sure made its stand today. With me, if I feel that something is wrong, I bring it up, and ask if anything is wrong. Nothing is too little or trivial. With J, it’s something to take a mental note of, and hope that it’s just nothing, or that it will pass. My experience with that is, little or not, these things that are not ok remain and grow surely over time, until something trivial triggers an avalanche of what has already become bitterness and discontent. So yeah, I feel like a dam of pent-up emotions was just released over me, and I am expected to just tread it.

I really take it as a betrayal of sorts. We are married, not some kind of work colleagues.

The husband is a generous person – very giving of his time and sympathies to a woman perhaps still grappling with the demands of motherhood. To be frank, from my end, it is not just that. Yes, motherhood, with its equal parts demands and rewards, is a lot to process, but thrown into the mix as well are gnawing signs of ageing, and a longing for a life outside of the home. There’s always that feeling that it’s not enough to just be home and manage the household when I could also be out there, contributing. I am beginning to miss stress that does not have anything to do with undone beds, dirty socks on the floor, or wisps of animal fur flying about.

Granted, my career never followed a single trajectory. At best, looking back at everything my ‘honest CV has (because of course, there is a made-to-impress version of said CV), it’s as topsy turvy as one’s 20s are supposed to be.

There are plenty of options to remedy this emptiness, I know. Work at home, start a business, have a sit-down with my mother into letting me work in the family business where I can have some time flexibility, but where I may also inevitably permanently damage our strained relationship as we are both stubborn hot-heads. The pursuit of any one path has been hampered mainly by three things: 1. the lack of house help, or help  that would stick around long enough, 2. the intense clinginess of a child exclusively breastfed to date, and 3. well, the lack of a real need, monetary wise, because the husband has luckily been doing well in his career so far, and has been an able provider (thank you, Lord).

But since the onset of the ‘ber months, he hasn’t been getting a lot of work, and now we also have a house to pay for, on top of the furnishings and appliances that it  still lacks, and then there’s the surprise communication from a former workplace that has shown interest in possibly having me back.

Our old decrepit house chokes me, as do our annoying as hell neighbours. Our kid’s increasing energy level can no longer contain it, and whole days indoors are beginning to become whole days of being glued in front of the computer monitor watching reruns of Yo Gabba Gabba or tinkering with phones and iPads. J is a natural introvert and has no qualms spending a week or more just home, so long as there is an occasional Starbucks break and meaty pizza is delivered in time for dinner.

I am not sure how he feels with this house, that is, if it is on the level of how I feel about it. But this whole thing, it is not a matter of differences catching up and separating us. This is about being explicit with needs and boundaries. Sure, he gets my desire ‘to be let out’ every chance I get, but for me, it was never to the point of getting in the way of whatever he has planned or risking the irk of a homebody being pushed to his outdoor limits. If you’ll end up having a fit, then by all means, my day at the mall can wait. I don’t understand where this martyrdom is coming from, there is never any need for it.

So here I am. In a dimly lit, pretty empty, relatively quiet nook in busy Quezon City, with my second bottle of beer and a dish of garlic peanuts, writing over the most 80s of music possible (“It’s not too late/to whip it/whip it good!” Boy, are you trying to tell me something, Devo?!). I am in my Kakashi sensei t-shirt and Fit Flops, not sure if I am actually smoking or just going through the motions, and trying not to think of my kid that didn’t like it one bit when I kissed her goodbye as I left the house. She’s with a parent, I tell myself, and I really try to avoid breastfeeding when I am close to hysterics. I don’t want to pass on the angst.

But maybe I can share a little here, and I’ll be ok tomorrow – back to changing her overnight nappy soon as I wake up, preparing our breakfast, feeding the dog and cats, folding our shirts in the closet so they are neatly stacked, and mulling over putting an end to this chapter in my life as a friggin’ housewife.

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