Despite the fact that I’ve pretty much made a career out of complaining, I must confess that lately things have been going well. My preschooler is slowly realizing that preschool won’t kill him. My 2-year-old has yet to burn down the house or train the dog to do her nefarious bidding. My husband and I are going strong, united in love and mutual exhaustion.
Financially we started from the bottom and now we’re here, the stage where we can afford name brand mustard again. My self-esteem is at an all-time medium. And I’m even able to carve out time for my hobbies, like running and pretending to write while really just eating snacks and daydreaming about which snacks I’ll eat next.
Yes, despite the mountain of stress that comes from modern living and trying to balance work and raising a family, life is pretty good currently.
Which is why, naturally, I keep waiting for something bad to happen.
Look, I know how this plays out. I’ve seen how this movie goes, how this TV episode is scripted. If an unhealthy amount of binge-watching TV has taught me anything, it is that happiness is suspect. Your life will ruined if you are too content.
So, when I step outside myself and look down at my happy little family, doing our happy little thing, I can’t help but wait for the ominous music to start.
Observe, if you will, this montage of tender moments: The mom singing the little girl to sleep. The older son giggling as he’s tossed into the air. A goofy dance party in pajamas. The parents throwing up a cheers with glasses of wine after the children have finally gone to bed.
You know who else sees this montage? The serial killer watching menacingly from the window. And as I go into the kitchen to get more wine, HE SLASHES MY THROAT.
Crazy, you say? Far-fetched? Eh, you’re probably right. It’s actually much more likely that I’m hanging out at the playground with my mom friends and suddenly there is a natural disaster.
POSSIBLY FILLED WITH SHARKS.
Then, on the slim chance that my kids and I are the main stars and thus the only ones to make it out alive from the shark tsunami, one of them is likely to get kidnapped on our walk home when I bend down to tie what is left of my shoe. And I know exactly who did it too. It was the quiet neighbor who lost her baby years ago and was driven mad by the loss and now wants TO RAISE MY CHILD AS HERS.
Of course I’ll be devastated but soon it won’t even matter because as a lone female jogger who only has the time to run either super early in the morning or late at night, there is a 104 percent chance I will be murdered and my body found by some wayward youths skipping school. Wayward youths who immediately call the police, who then stand over my dead body saying fake science stuff while looking at my corpse over the rim of their wicked cool sunglasses. And then 43 minutes later we all find out that it wasn’t the first suspect who killed me but the third person they suspected.
Wait. No, you’re right. That’s silly. It’s much more likely that a bunch of vampires did me in. Or a Satanic cult.
Sometimes I even look over at my husband suspiciously. He’s so loving. So patient. So forgiving of all my faults. Because, and here comes the shocking ending, HE WAS THE SERIAL KILLER LOOKING AT US FROM THE WINDOW ALL ALONG. Any day now I know I’m going to stumble upon his collection of severed heads in some long neglected corner of our house.
(Although I’m pretty sure if he IS a serial killer, he is one of those serial killers who only kills other serial killers. So we can probably still make this marriage work).
(Unless he does slash my throat in the kitchen because it turns out I have a split personality and UNKNOWN TO ME, MY OTHER PERSONALITY IS A SERIAL KILLER.)
Ridiculous? Sure. I know it is. Of course I know it is. Yet I still can’t help feeling I am somehow undeserving of all this happiness. Life doesn’t work this way. Not according to my TV. I am dangerously close to having pretty much all I’ve ever wanted. And, I mean, who gets everything they ever wanted?
Murder victims on crime dramas, that’s who. They’re all perfectly happy until, you know, they’re dead.
Which is why I find myself looking lovingly down at my wedding ring and then I immediately look up, panicked, waiting for the inevitable phone call telling me my entire family has died in a suspicious car crash.
I guess I’ll just have to take solace in the fact that the tragedy is likely to turn me into a heroic vigilante, hellbent on avenging their deaths.
Or, you know, maybe I could turn the TV off every once in awhile and just enjoy my life.