Going Dark: Day 16. Shelter From the Storm

As you’ve heard me say many times now, weekends are the hardest.

This weekend was no exception.

Gaby did a lot of her side hustle. Erika was at her dad’s a lot. That left Cyrus and me a lot of time by ourselves. It’s good to have time when it’s just the two of us. Cyrus got his hair cut on Saturday, of course, and then the hilarious phone call asking for Ben Dover. But.

Sunday Gaby worked from 7-12. Erika was with Gaby. Then there were two.

As usual, Cyrus woke us up early, and repeatedly, asking when he could sleep in our bed. After Gaby left, he climbed in with me. He does this on occasion. I tell him that if he’s going to be in bed with me, he’s going to sleep. “Okay, Mom.”  But then comes the chatter. “Mom, did you have a bully when you were a kid?” “Did you like My Little Ponies when you were a little girl?”  “Did Joe Montana and Jerry Rice retire?”

There was a dusting of snow on the ground, but we got in the car anyway. I drove us to JJ’s Cafe where he had biscuits and gravy, and I ate the chicken friend steak covered in eggs, hash browns, cheese, and gravy. He ate a whole biscuit!  We sat side by side in the booth happily eating and watching big snowflakes fall outside. It was a wonderful time of just the two of us. I nearly cried at the amount of food he ate. I marveled at how he is finally old enough to carry on a conversation. I thought of the times when he was still in a car seat, and a feeding pump had to be taken everywhere. Those times are dead. Really fucking dead.

What I haven’t shared with you is this: Cyrus is eating. Since October 1st, he’s been without a feeding tube in the day time (he got calories through it at night when he was asleep). And since November 27th, when his button broke at school, he’s gone totally without. He’s scheduled to have the button in his stomach removed on March 5. He now has an answer to the question you’ve all asked since his birth. The answer is March 5. Just a few weeks before his 8th birthday.

I’m telling you this because it’s stressful feeding him. He likes to eat, but it takes him a long time. So. A meal can last an hour or more. We have to use a 30 ml syringe to give him a caloric smoothie to supplement what he eats. But. He fucking eats. Tonight he ate a whole pear, and beans, cheese, and sour cream–and he squirted a teaspoon or more of sriracha into it. He ate it all. He said, “I love spicy food.” I’m so fucking proud. It’s exhausting, though. Counting his calories to make sure he gains weight.

Without Gaby, this tube removal would not be possible. When she came into his life 3 + years ago, she worried at his nutrition; he got pediasure through his feeding tube. Four times a day. Plus water. I’d consulted with a nutritionist to see about a more nutritious alternative, but no one really seemed to have one.

Gaby made one. She made a fatty, organic, healthy smoothie that had double the calories and no fucking corn syrup, which is the first ingredient in pediasure.

This was at least a year and a half ago. She fattened him up. But she didn’t stop there. She kept trying to feed him things that he liked, with added oils and fats.

Now, he eats half of his calories like we do, and half with one of many flavored, caloric smoothies. Without Gaby, I’m positive he would still be using pediasure. I can’t believe they feed that shit to people.

But, like I said, the food doesn’t just slide down. He chews forever. Sometimes he chipmunks it in his cheeks. Sometimes he makes some excuse that he has to go to the bathroom or that he’s really tired. It’s a challenge.

And sometimes that coupled with “Hey, mom hey, mom hey, mom hey, mom” and no one else there to absorb the kid energy is enough to make a person feel overwhelmed.

I mean, I struggle with depression and anxiety a bit any way. Loud noises, like talking and shouting, make me spaz out. I do everything in my power to shut it down. Like, Cyrus talkingtalkingtalking or when he clucks like a chicken for ten minutes, or just makes all of those noise while we’re all trying to play Karuba. Sometimes, it’s all too much for me. This weekend was one of those times. And Gaby’s birthday was yesterday.

So, I’d had two days already of a lot of kid time. I have a lot in my life to be anxious about right now, having to do with Cyrus. And, on top of that, birthdays have always been a little weird for me.

Yesterday I woke up to a cat putting his claws in the mattress, then Cyrus asking when he could sleep with me. Then the cat. Then Cyrus walking back in. This went on for an hour and a half and ended around 7:00 am on our day off. On Gaby’s birthday.

So, Cyrus and I made coffee. Gaby had some, turned on her phone, and got exactly one million phone calls from her family all across the world. She retreated to the bedroom, leaving just Cyrus and me again. He demanded we play balloony ball. I tried to clean up the kitchen as a birthday present for Gaby. He “hey mommed” me the whole time.

I’ll get to the bottom of this story now. I was grumpy all day but trying not to be because it was Gaby’s birthday. I know my history of not really liking birthdays, so I thought I was trying extra hard to be happy for her. We all went outside in the super cold and played snow volleyball and snow soccer.

Mom and Dad came and we all went out to dinner. Dinner was amazing. Cyrus even at salad. He ate fucking lettuce with shredded carrots. He called himself a baby brachiosaur. He roared and ate more vegetables while the rest of us shoved bloody steaks into our mouths.

And then a piece of cake came. With a little candle. And Mom and Gaby were singing happy birthday, quietly, and I started feeling that anxiety that I can’t describe to you, you just have to have it to understand.

I blew out the fucking candle.

I snuffed out my love’s birthday.

I’m telling you this intimate detail because I’m ashamed. And maybe you’ve done something just as shameful. Maybe you’ve also wished for just 20 minutes of silence from your beautiful child. Maybe, sometimes, everything can feel like too much and you do something utterly stupid.

Or maybe it’s just me.

So, it felt like a long weekend. There are no screens to hypnotize my child, so I must figure out how to make him have some time to himself. There are no screens for me to sit in front of and live somewhere else.

I have to be right here, with myself, by myself, with all of my feelings.

The woman who snuffed out her partner’s birthday.

Without Gaby, my son would not be eating on his own. Without Gaby, I wouldn’t be eating so well with such small amount of effort. Without Gaby, there would be no Erika, no too-loud laughing, no one to check me when I’m wrong. No one to fight by my side, guns a’blazin’ when I’m right.

Tú eres mi refugio y mi verdad.


This is me after a half mile walk from my office to my car, after a long, screenless weekend.  I didn’t realize until today the lines I’ve earned under my eyes.




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