I thought centuries and realities firmly divided us. But lately, I've been meeting her more often. It's usually in the morning. In my kitchen. And it goes something like this:
One kid mixes her Ovaltine, metal spoon striking glass cup, clinking against my very soul. The other kid chews her bagel, lips open, with a smack smack smacking that punctures my threadbare skin. The baby shouts her highchair cacophony and my brain slides in splatters down the walls between my assaulted ears.
Inwardly I moan. You have no compassion of my poor nerves!
And with these words, I've conjured her. Mrs. Bennet stands in my slippers, threatening hysterics and a week in bed on account of being so cruelly used.
I quickly gulp my coffee, hoping to scald her into silence before she start prattling about husbands and situations. [Though, a daughter at Netherfield might not be so bad…]
She shuts up and I can successfully speak in my normal voice through the breakfast banter. But if the girls start fighting or the baby howls when I detach her from my hip for a second – just ONE second – to pee, the back of my hand involuntarily flutters to my forehead and dramatic sighs puff my cheeks.
If I can make it to the shower before any tantrums are thrown or dishes dropped, the steam and sort-of-solitude soothe my nerves and finally send her home. [Thank goodness, because you know you just can't BREATHE in a corset].
But why must she show up in the first place? Why are my nerves so raw? I've always felt that I'm a fairly even-keeled person, not quite as prone to the wild swings in mood that can sometimes possess persons of my sex. [John, are you shaking your head right now? I SEE YOU.] But Ruthie has been cutting teeth these past few weeks [or for her whole life?] and her deteriorating sleep habits have been sloughing off my protective layers, night by night, exposing my nerves so that normal sounds and situations sent me to some perceived edge. It's a mirage, I know that, but still I stand there shouting.
But I wrap myself in yoga and fiction and John and the bits of spider silk I see glinting in the sunshine from across the yard. Buffered so, I can still function. But I long to nestle into thick blankets of deep, uninterrupted sleep.
It will come. I know that. Some day [soon? Please?] I'll wake only to shuffle myself barefoot to the bathroom, take care of business, and be back to blissful slumber in moments.
But for now, I'm up all night. And I'm fighting Mrs. Bennet.