On Glumness & Laughter & Not Being Isolated

Friday, I felt pretty glum. The what-I-should-do isn’t lining up directly with what-I-want-to-do, and there were some contentious moments this week I took a little too personally and on like that. I know that at times like this the best thing to do is sleep more, find a chance to do something I just like doing, be gentle with myself, try to be gracious with everyone else and once the moment passes—as it tends to do—move along.

However, there was the big coffeehouse event my eighth grade son’s class was putting on. And there was the ski development team’s end of season time trials the next day. Followed by a house concert with the ever-lively (and loved by these children; he’s been in residence there numerous times) Mister G and potluck for our Sunnyside community.

Much as I wasn’t really up for big, social events, being reminded that we are so fortunate to be members of incredible communities buoyed my spirits. Besides being cooperative schools, the thing I love about both places is the happiness at children’s happiness. It is hard not to be happy about that.

Having trekked in the car up the pretty roads to Charlemont, I was excited to see Remy ski. Saskia, however, was decidedly, loudly not. Her tantrum echoed off the hill, it seemed and boomed through the lodge. Like any parent of a fourth child mid-tantrum, when she wound up and we were staying long enough to see his run down the course regardless, I just let her belt it out. I wasn’t particularly pleased about it—and said so. Finally, I said, “If you keep screaming and complaining, we won’t go to Mister G. We’ll see Remy ski down. Then, if you don’t want to stay to see the second run, that’s okay, we’ll go.” She quieted down instantly for the last bit. We watched Remy ski—fan-tast-tic—and then we left.

As I drove the forty-five minutes back home, I thought it had been a bit of a fool’s errand, bringing her, but I was in the throes of glumness anyway so the gnawing complaint really didn’t rock me more. However, hearing her reporting of what happened, including impersonation of herself at the mountain—“Go home, wah wah, want candy, wah wah, cold wah wah”—to her biggest brother was almost worth it having been so miserable. It might even have been worth it.

The brothers and papa were out to supper when we got home and after reading two of my favorite books to her (in case you’re wondering, Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard’s Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch and Bob Graham’s Has Anyone Here Seen William?) I let her fall asleep next to me. I read an essay Joanna Goddard wrote about the depression she experienced when weaning her son, which she didn’t understand in that context until later. This morning I read from Andrea Fox’s Blue Milk a short piece about her depression during the first year of her daughter’s life. Both writers reminded me that parenting is not easy and that isolation really never helps.

That last bit—parenting is not easy and isolation never really helps—consider it my community service announcement of the week. I, for one, am feeling better, the community, a big sleep, the promise of little dealing with cranky moods today save for my own and a short list of things I hope to get done, some in the “have to” column and a couple in the “for me” column.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our daily newsletter!

You don't want to be left out, do you?

Sign up!

You have Successfully Subscribed!