It was a week ago today when I started to panic.
It was the start of the much feared Three Weeks With the Kids.
A routine was going to be my saving grace, I decided. Sunday night I sat down and drew up a behavior chart (complete with key of what every color meant...stole this from a 1st grade teacher), a schedule...
And still....the panic at the thought of being alone with the kids. With my own kids.
But it wasn't the first time I'd felt that fear. It's been there since the very first night I was alone with Eli in that hospital room, only hours after he was born. I'll never forget the instant the door clicked, and the icy silence that followed. All day there had been people. People bringing me flowers, food. People holding the baby, taking pictures.
And then there were no more people. And I looked over at my new baby, and he looked over at me, and who knows who looked more terrified.
From that night in the hospital on, I have felt the terror grip me whenever I've alone with them.
I am only a little more confident now than I was then, but only because one day I realized what I was afraid of: me.
Not just: what if I don't know what to do.
More: What if someday I just...can't...just don't.
What this looks like is me opening the front door and running down the street, pulling at my hair, shrieking.
The good news is that work is over and I have returned to Zumba. Thursday night I moved up one row in the class...was in the second to last row. It's clear I may get those crazy dance steps long before I master the kid thing.
Once again, I witnessed the phenomena of the hottest chicks in the class: The Front Row Dancers, turn into pumpkins, (A.k.a moms) when they picked up their kids from childcare. The hotter the dancer, the crazier her kids were, it seemed. Coincidence? Of course not! We are all, I think, whispering the same thing to ourselves in class: 'Dance, momma, dance, and everything'll be alright...'
I started thinking about how Zumba is so much more than nostalgia for the clubbing days.
Zumba is The Dance Class for the Rest of Us.
It was like when I ran...(well, participated)...in a half-marathon last year. Just as I was about to quit, when I thought I'd reached down down and found nothing left to keep me going, I told myself: 'remember all those times you were picked last for the kickball team? When you weren't asked to dance at the stupid 6th grade dance? ...and the mother of all remember when's: the time you told everybody you'd failed PE on purpose because you didn't want to mess up your hair, when really you just could not think of failing at yet another sport? Well, don't be a weak ass! Run!'
I managed to hobble across the finish line. I'd like to to think The Rest of Us were redeemed.
And I can't quit now. Second week Alone With the Kids starts tomorrow. When I reach down down and feel like I could find nothing more to keep me going, I hope I remember to take a deep breath and: 'remember that first night in the hospital room, and I thought I couldn't...?'