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Last Saturday:

 Encounter 1:
Overcome by insomnia, I moved to another room at about 2 a.m., so as not to wake up my partner by tossing and turning.

6:00 am, still dark out, door to the bedroom opens, and seconds later a jarring LED light shines in my eyes. When I don’t respond hoping the offending party would go away, it happens again and leads to a sharp shooting headache.

Internal response: I want to wring your neck.

External response:
“Are you looking for your dad?”

“Yes. “

‘The other room please.”

Later questioned why on earth she would do something like that?

“I wanted to see.”

See what? My eyeballs?


Total exercise time to calm down: 100 minutes: 20 min cardio, 80 min 102-degree yoga.


Encounter 2:
While talking to partner other child yells daddy I want to show you something. He walks away in the middle of our conversation.

Internal response: 


External response: Silence


Encounter 3:
We all go out, children on their bikes, adults on foot.

Smaller child, every few minutes: ouwaaaaa, I’m gonna fall. Father reassures her, coaches her, holds the back of the bike.  At one point bike falls, child doesn’t.  Nevertheless, major drama ensues. I can’t be sure over what, since there is no injury whatsoever.

Internal response: Rise in blood pressure.

External response: Walk away from the small child and her father.  Busy myself with the older child.


Encounter 4: 
Back at home, older child decides not to use the water in the fridge and instead pour herself water from a new one-gallon bottle. Since she’s trying to pour it in another water bottle, she misses, thus pouring the water on the floor. Now she starts crying.

Internal response: Christ almighty. The floor should cry? Why are you crying?

External response: Go to the bathroom.


Encounter 5:
After the bathroom break decide to stay in the bedroom and pack for tomorrow’s trip. I imagined bedroom can be my space. In that moment they both want to take a bath in our bathtub.  I leave the room. They fill the tub, get in a fight, start crying again, and ask to take a shower in their own shower. The drain and waste all that water.  Remember, we live in the desert and I grew up in a war, so waste is not in my vocabulary.

Internal response: What the FUCK? This is the last time they will use our bathroom.

External response: As they walk upstairs to their shower, ask what they want for snack and start to prep it, hoping to eliminate hypoglycemia as the reason for demonic possession.


Encounter 6: 
They shout their dad’s name.  He is outside.  I go to find out what they need. “Can you help us turn on the faucet?”

“No but I can show you how.”  We’ve been in this house for 1.5 years. How can you not know how to turn on the faucet?

The little one opens the hot water.  Now we want to add cold water. I ask her to test and see if the temp is what she wants. She holds her hand under the water and screams bloody murder. First because it’s too hot and then because it’s too cold.

Internal response: I can’t take any of this anymore. Is it Sunday yet?

External response:  Stay until we achieve the correct water temp, then walk to my closet, lie down on the floor, and stay there motionless for a long time while pondering what possesses people to have children.  By the time I  leave the closet, I look like this:


After they have their dinner and finish their 4th hour of movie watching, I finally speak up. It’s my turn to watch my show. It’s the first time I have ever asked to watch my show while they are with us.  They can stay if they like, but the show I have chosen contains brutal murder scenes.  Dad takes them out of the TV room and I enjoy a moment of silence and brutal murders. I was even excused from the bedtime routine.

My friend, a mother to four kids, tells me about her moments of  unraveling. It always helps to know biological parents lose their cool with their children, that the crazy feeling is normal.  The problem is as a stepmom of kids who now visit us every other Wednesday and every other weekend, I don’t have the option of unraveling.  Why? Well because I’m not sure what they are? Do I treat them as guests or family members (who are expected to follow some rules). Also, because their father sees them so infrequently, his house is supposed to be a fun house.  Therein lie the challenges that lead to moments of insanity, which tend to linger on for days even after they leave.