Assessing the essence of “OK-ness”
My brain seems to have decided on its own accord that real life is just not working out.
It has instead developed a single-minded focus on one thing: sewing. I’m a long-time sewer (seamstress?) and cranked out my first gathered skirt sometime in the early 80s, but for the past few years sewing has taken a backseat to (a) childrearing and (b) knitting to the point that the sewing machine has been buried in a pile of yarn for the past three or four years. I recently reorganized my craft area, however, and the unearthing of my sewing machine rekindled my interest.
It’s quickly become an obsession, to the point I’ve finished three blouses in the past week and a half, with another in the works. This is a particularly odd and pointless fixation, considering I don’t go anywhere that I would wear all these clothes. If things continue at this rate, I will shortly have an entirely new wardrobe, which I presumably will wear around the house as I talk to the cats.
Actually, I did have an opportunity to leave the house on Saturday. It meant leaving the sewing machine for a few hours but promised good food and conversation with our friends C. and J. They know all about MapKid’s challenges–C. more than she would probably like, what with my endless hysterical phone calls. Their son R. has known MapKid since they were both in strollers. They go to the same school, and last year were in the same class. MapKid lists R. as one of his best friends.
Dinner with adults was a heady prospect only marred by terror at what havoc MapKid might wreak on their household. Things went pretty well for the first hour or so and then fell apart utterly when MapKid walloped his best friend on the head with a toy pickup truck.
Yep. He left a bruise.
I withered. I slumped right back into my slumpiness. I felt hopeless, helpless, humiliated.
C. was generous in her reassurances. These things happen, she said. Boys roughhouse. This was not the first and won’t be the last bruise R. gets from another kid. It’s OK. Everything is OK.
Still, I couldn’t past they fact they invited us into their home and my son assaulted theirs. This, my friends, is why I never leave the house.
We continued on with dinner and ended up having a lovely time talking to grown-ups. R. and MapKid played some more and seemed to make up their differences.
Eight o’clock rolled around, the boys seemed on the verge of turning into pumpkins (sleep-hungry, cranky pumpkins), so I went into the kitchen and started to pack up our stuff to head home. C. met me in the kitchen, looked me firmly in the eye, and said, “Are you OK?”
I babbled. I said things were hard right now, and I was kind of freaking out on a daily basis, and the whole sewing obsession was kind of weird, but no, really everything was fine, just fine, and I’m OK, in fact I’m the dictionary definition of OK, if you looked in Websters next to OK you’d see a picture of me, really.
She let me wind down. “You know it’s OK if things aren’t OK,” she said.
What I did next may best be defined as “goggled.” I looked at her blankly with my mouth open. The few brain cells not contemplating my next foray into fabric struggled to process this concept. It’s OK if things aren’t OK.
I realize I said essentially the same thing myself just last week, but that doesn’t mean I believe it. Things have to be OK. That’s what I do–I make thing be OK. If they aren’t OK, I will singlehandedly steamroll them into OK-ness. It is not OK that things aren’t OK.
MapKid is not OK. He’s angry, aggressive, occasionally violent, and incredibly hard to control.
I am not OK. I don’t know how to deal with him, I keep casting about for help and finding it inadequate to my needs, and I can’t seem to sleep. A good portion of my brain seems to have washed its hands of the reality entirely and is even now in a corner humming to itself about princess seams and silk charmeuse. (Can I go sew now? What about now?)
The idea that this not-OK state is, in fact, OK, is really hard for me to wrap my head around. But that seems to be where I am right now.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to keep trying to achieve an OK state. We can’t continue in not-OK-ness–it’s unacceptable. But I also don’t have to fake it. My life kind of sucks right now. And that’s . . . OK.
It feels really weird–and completely wrong–to be saying that in public. And I want to emphasize I’m not searching for pity, nor am I in danger of offing myself with my pinking sheers. Everyone goes through non-OK moments, and this is mine.
So Saturday night, we went home, put MapKid to bed, and I got in a few hours of sewing–you know, just to take the edge off. I did some basting, some seaming, some understitching. And then when I finally turned off the iron and switched off the sewing machine, I came to a stunning realization.
I had completely wasted my one social outing by forgetting to wear one of my new blouses.
And that is not OK.