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9:34 a.m. - 2009-10-13
Betty and Snakes Alive
I wanted to write this one just because I thought the title was so clever, heh.

Anyway, I have a fear of snakes. Not so much a fear as maybe a total and complete phobia concerning snakes. I checked my handy on-line thesaurus and I might also include the words dread, terror, horror, panic, alarm, apprehension, trepidation and the phrase "thing about." Thing about? I have a "thing about" dirty bathrooms but I can still go in one if I have to. Snakes, on the other hand, cause me to have an immediate melt down unlike anything the world has ever seen. My family thinks this is funny. Until last Wednesday we had had a clear understanding that even though my reaction to snakes gives my family lots to laugh about there was not to be any practical jokes involving snakes in our house ever, for any reason. You know where this story is going, don't you? Right.

We heat with propane and I had scheduled our winter fill with the gas company for Friday. The tank is behind our house not too far from the edge of the woods. Over the summer the tank had been overgrown by bramble bushes and wild grapevines and given the above mentioned snake thing I hadn't bothered to clear off the area. Since the temperatures had been very cool for the past couple of weeks I figured the evil things had gone off to their hidey spots and I was safe to go out back and hack away at the mess. I made children numbers 3 and 4 go with me. I told them they had to help but really all I wanted was to know that someone was there so I wouldn't be alone. Snakes have been known to attack innocent people, you know. So, I chopped and cut and dragged the vines off to a burn pile. When I got to the point where the gauge could be read I asked the youngest to come over and check the fill level. Mind you, I was waist deep in sticker vines with a sharp instrument in my hands and that's when it happened. My youngest child lost her mind.

M.R. looked at the gauge and said, "It says 40%." Then, the four worst words I have ever heard, "Mom, there's a snake." I don't really know if I can describe what happened next. I remember feeling the blood rush out of my head toward my feet and my heart rate rise to dangerous levels. Somehow I got disentangled from the vines and ran toward the house screaming naughty words at full volume. I was sobbing, snot was running from my nose and I could hardly breathe. I turned around and looked at my child. She had gone pale herself and she said, "Geez Mom, it was just a joke." Upon hearing this I closed my eyes and the screaming, sobbing and wheezing increased at least ten-fold. I had scratched my nose on one of the thorns and tiny droplets of blood were rolling down my cheek. I managed to get out a couple of words and told her that was by far the meanest thing anyone had ever done to me. I turned back to the tank, still sup-supping and continued to chop at the vines as she huffed off into the house. Child #3 shouted after her, "I told you that was a bad idea."

Now, you have to understand that M.R. is my sweet baby. As a toddler she assured me that she would be my sweet baby until the end of time. She never mentioned that she would someday turn 17 and develop a wicked sense of humor and use it against me. I think what hurt more than anything was the idea that she would do something so insensitive, so uncaring and well, just plain mean. She has always been the softie in the family, the one who cries real tears if a pet gets hurt. How could she possibly strike at that part of me which is the most afraid? I don't know. I think it was just really, really bad judgment.

I've been doing the mom thing for 25 years and it never gets any easier. Why can't they see the part of me who's tired from dealing with a chronically sick father? The part of me who's lonely and wants to go to my husband? The part of me that needs consoling and understanding? The sad part is I don't have the answers and I don't know that I want the answers, either. At first I thought I wanted my sweet baby to come back. The more I think about it, though, I don't want that either. Here's an idea...someone should make up my mind for me and let me know what I think. I'll be here waiting for your reply.



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