My Sybil Summer
By Lori Welch Brown
My Sybil Summer
Anyone remember that 1976 movie “Sybil” about the woman with multiple personalities or perhaps the Netflix show, “United States of Tara?” I can relate. I don’t know if it’s the heat or Mercury Retrograde, but seriously—who am I and who is that woman who had a near meltdown because the nice folks at Outback forgot to put her filet in the sack at curbside pickup. “Aye, matey. Somebody toss her some bar-bee, stat!” My inner Miranda Priestly was quick to let them know that she was not amused by their incompetence. “By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.” Mercury was in retrograde from July 7 to July 29 so at least I had an excuse for so many Miranda sightings. Thank you, Mercury! And praise Jesus that’s behind us. Mercury rules planning and logistics and basically makes everything and everyone go haywire. I don’t sit around charting my astrology, but I do sit up and take notice when Mercury goes into retrograde because that is no joke bloke. Seriously. I could set my Apple watch by it except that it stopped working.
Anyhow, I survived July—a meltdown or two notwithstanding. I’m adjusting to a new world view with my 89 year old dad who now resides in the guest room across the hall two weeks out of the month. For the record—I’ve only had four roommates my entire life—three girls in my twenties and my husband. My girlfriend roomies at least picked their socks off the floor and let me borrow their clothes and make up. I haven’t shared a roof with my dad since 1985, and trust me, it was his house, his rules back then. His rules motivated me to work hard to earn rent money. For all you parents who have kids with failure-to-launch syndrome, what you are lacking is a strong set of rules. No friends after 10 pm. No members of the opposite sex in bedrooms ever. No alcohol or pot. No smoking or vaping. No TVs or phones in bedrooms. Enforce some of those rules and your 12 year old will be filling out applications and contacting leasing agents. I highly recommend that you channel your own Joan Crawford and start banishing the wire hangers immediately.
Life with Dad is good, but has definitely taken some adjusting. For starters, transitioning from daddy’s girl to dad’s caregiver means I am a full-fledged adult which I’m not totally digging. I’m seeing my own end of the conveyor belt. You definitely don’t want to rent too much space in your head for those thoughts or you’ll never get out of bed. I’m childless so someone needing something from me 24/7 is foreign to me. Not complaining at all because I’m grateful for this time with Dad, but it is hard any way you slice it. The hardest part is watching this man I knew as the epitome of strength struggling to walk more than 12 steps. He is a champ always though and keeps on keeping on through it all. At 52 years old, I still want him to be proud of me, but some days I feel as if I’m failing at everything. Failing at being strong. Failing at being joyful. Failing at being present and grateful. Why can’t I do it all with a smile on my face? Why can’t I be more like [fill in the blank with some goddess chick like Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Gilbert]? Why haven’t I published a book or run a marathon or lost ten pounds or won an Academy Award for all this whining? I suck. At. Everything.
I get angry at myself often. I’ve learned though that anger is my superpower which is not necessarily a bad thing. Anger shows up and tells the whiny, thumb-sucking Cindy Brady to step aside. I like to think my anger looks like Sarah Connor aka Linda Hamilton (whose biceps put Michelle Obama’s to shame) in Terminator who walks in the room and says, “Shut up! Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP! It’s all your fault! M#$@&R F@#%*R, it’s all your fault!” Okay—well some of it might be my fault, but anger reminds me that I probably need some self-care. Maybe I need some time alone. Maybe I am doing a good job and it’s okay not to be doing everything because I am doing the important thing. The trick is not to vomit my anger all over say, the Outback host. That’s why God made customer service surveys. Anger gets a bad rap sometimes—especially for women. We were taught to Julie Andrews our way through the Apocalypse and come out the other side all sugar and spice and everything nice and then just to prove we mean it, drag out some Pamela Anderson lingerie to seal the deal. In other words, we are supposed to be the light in the room not the fireworks, but sometimes a little spark is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Important PSA: Men—do not blame your wife’s anger on menopause. Consider yourself forewarned—this is not a good time to make menopause jokes. For the record, menopause jokes are 1,000 times worse than ‘that time of the month’ jokes. And, by the way, if you want your spouse to channel her inner Pam Anderson, feel free to channel your inner Bradley Cooper or Ryan Reynolds or Jon Hamm or Idris Elba…
My other super power is administration and organization. When the going gets tough, I channel my inner Tess McGill and Doralee Rhodes for some high-powered female ingenuity. I can email, file and schedule my way through any crisis. All I need is my Rolodex of resources, my 1985 shoulder pads and big permed hair and I can save the world or at least, schedule a massage and a mani/pedi which is akin to saving the world—at least mine! At a minimum, I can declutter a junk drawer and my brain translates that into peace and harmony. One clean drawer and all is right with the world. It truly is the little things in life that bring us happiness.
Luckily, at the end of the day, I am able to put my Mirandas and all my other selves aside and call upon the me, the Lori, who loves summer and wishes life could be one endless day on the beach with all-you-can-eat ice cream and all the puppies and kittens you can hold. Note: I’d still like some Michelle Obama biceps. Just sayin’.