I don’t believe I have any sort of mental illness. Really, I have actually googled various symptoms to see if I am crazy. I’m not. I think I’m just a little quirky.
I'm strange; maybe a little unique combo of OCD (I alphabetize my spices and truly can’t believe anyone doesn’t) (but I don’t know anyone else who does) and an anxiety disorder.
Let me give you an example. First of all, I’m pretty religious about back-to-school rituals. The kids need haircuts and new shoes, for example. When I was young, school started after Labor Day and the mornings were a little chillier than they are in September these days (unless you believe Rick Perry). I can actually mentally transport myself back to my childhood driveway and remember what it felt like to stand there in my cardigan and my uniform with stiff new saddle shoes on my feet, thrilled about a new school year. (I was a geeky kid.)
Anyway, as a mom, I schedule an August trip to Target for school supplies with the precision of a military operation. We need to go when the selection is good but not picked over, never on a busy weekend, not so early it feels blasphemous but not so late we feel rushed. (Clearly I am still a geeky adult.)
And I get a new calendar. I am one of the few people remaining on the planet that uses a paper calendar. It sits on my kitchen counter all year, and I can’t make a single appointment or plan without consulting it. I buy the ones that start in September, and when I buy a new one, the old one joins a stack of messy used books, with scribbles and the kitchen stains of a year and random notes stuck in the pages.
Yesterday I got my calendar. When we got home, I started writing birthdays and school holidays and even the beach dates for next year in its pages.
It started with the birthdays. As I wrote "Caroline’s 10th birthday" or "Jack’s 8th birthday," I got a little wistful, feeling that the year was going to pass in a heartbeat, a mere turn of the page.
And then my weirdness came out. I remembered writing "Mom's 63rd birthday" one year and then, because she had cancer, suddenly realizing that I might turn to that page on January 26 and see that entry and she wouldn’t be here, and that wouldn’t be her birthday. (She was and it was. But she died two months later. I still write her birthday in my calendar every year, just because I feel disloyal omitting her. I told you I was weird.)
Then my tangent started to spiral. Writing my in-laws' birthdays or my dad’s birthday suddenly seized me with panic: was I jinxing them? If I write down "14 year anniversary" am I dooming myself to divorce? If I write "last day of school" for next June am I guaranteed the kids will have had yet another great year, and will they bound out of their classrooms in search of PTA popsicles like they just did last June? Or not? Should I just leave that day blank?
Then (and this is how I know I’m not crazy), I realized I was acting all crazy. Even just in my thoughts; I wasn’t hopping around the kitchen hooting like an owl. Do you have to hop around hooting like an owl to be crazy, or can you be crazy just because you think crazy things? If you know you’re being crazy does that mean you’re rational and not really crazy?
Oh, for God’s sake. I can’t worry about being crazy right now. The calendar is done, and I need to go count all our puzzle pieces to make sure we’re not missing any.
Just kidding. I’m not that crazy.
(Plus I already did that.)