My son returned from the dentist today minus two teeth, mouth stuffed with gauze. Hungry. I made my husband stay home from work today so that he could be the one to take my son to the dentist. I’ve always been the splinter taker-outer, and vomit cleaner-upper, the cut bandager. Suddenly though, the sight of my injured children makes my stomach churn and my eyesight blurry. Suddenly I’m not a stoic nurturer anymore.
Now, I’m the avoider.
There is a lot of silence in our house.
My husband reports that my son declined even a hand to hold when he climbed into the chair. “I have my cat”, he said. After it was over, he wasn’t even sure what had happened.
My daughter is angry. We’re giving him and his injury too much attention, she says. “Can’t you see my injured leg? I can’t walk! LOOK AT THIS BUMP”
My husband reminds her that ten minutes ago she was chasing him in the yard. She smirks, gets up from the couch and limps to the bathtub.
With no twitter or Facebook account I find myself at loose ends and able to do nothing but stare in horror and then call my dad (Honey, I don’t know what he can do for you, my mom says wearily over the phone. I think it comforts the kids when he is here, I lie.):
And then I’m left to ask myself and the empty room some indulgent, bitter questions about the nature of stay at home parenting, the fortitude that I am missing, and how silence can be so motherfucking loud.
I was raised with my father’s music, so the soundtrack of my childhood is of course, flawless in quality and choice. Sunday mornings, waffle day, would often be the loudest day of the week; sometimes “Good Morning to You!” or something more mellow like Rastafari Is. He owns only one Beatles album and I support him in that. He likes the Grateful Dead but not when they got all spacey and jam band-y; therefore he owns only American Beauty and no live recordings. Graham does nothing halfway. His record collection, which resides still under the stairs in the house he spent 8 years building largely alone out of refrigerated box cars, is in pristine condition. As a child I wasn’t allowed near the turntable. Ever. Obviously, as soon as I was left alone in the house I would break out his records and play them, which is how I learned the proper care of a turntable needle and how easy it is to break one.
My dad has incredible taste in music. Really. Recently I popped in (listen to my old lady vernacular: popped in, as if we still use CDs. How cute) some Band of Horses and my son cried out “Papa has this song!”. I don’t know why this surprises me, but I was both shocked and delighted. Whenever I have something in common with my dad I feel an inexplicable jolt of delight; it’s not easy to connect with “Mr. Graham”, as my brother’s girlfriend calls him. Sometimes people recoil in horror when they hear that my childhood was light on affection or outward displays of father/daughter bonding. But…but… I had a full component stereo system when I was 8. I still have the mix tape my parents made for me that year, and my father taught me how to change a flat & the oil in my car when I was 12 years old, which was yes, the year I got my first car.
As I sneaked over to the window today to watch the car pull away as my husband drove my son to school for the first time, the soundtrack in my head was this:
“And my little son is three today,
Bounced him on my knee today,
We swam like fishes in the sea today”
And it NEVER LEFT.
My son is actually four, but there’s just nothing like a snazzy Michael Franks coming of age tune to make you turn inward for a moment or ninety.
I can sit all day on my ass with my back straight but on infinite loop will be how the fuck did this guy get things straight in his head by 30, and was Jesus an alcoholic? And also, what’s next because what I want to do is sit under my dad’s stairs and listen to records but what I have to do is take this test and look like I didn’t sit on this fucking purple ass cushion all day and play Three Today on infinite loop in my head looking for the deeper meaning of life.
All the sudden the position of the faux wicker loveseat on which I sit, doing brainless discussion board assignments for my community college classes offends me. I am deeply, personally offended by the choice someone (was it me? Was it my husband?) made to place this couch facing inward toward the sliding glass door instead of outward facing the yard, where I could at least occasionally glance up and actually actively watch life passing me by. While I espouse my thoughts (and cite my sources from the web and from my own experience in order to get full credit) on what the most effective methods are in which to produce full participation from an entire team of students when you are the leader of a group with a project to complete.
Moving the furniture takes 5 minutes and opens up a great expanse of blue sky and a canopy of Spanish moss, so long as a crane my neck upward.
In my direct view though, remains a fucking rocking chair. Nobody sits in it, because long ago the rockers rotted off. It looks a little like I imagine electric chair would if it were located on a southern plantation. Politely whitewashed, adorned with decorative finials. Blue and white striped cushions have been stuffed onto it as an afterthought, even though it’s clear that no one would ever, ever choose to sit there and the cushions, they will not help you. The high back is so straight that it almost pitches you forward when you sit. This chair says “Go ahead; try me. Dumbass.”
It came from my grandfather’s house, and is one of those things you just keep. But I’m over that shit. It robs me the view of my butterfly garden, my children playing in the mud, and my Gravedigger powerwheels monster truck. It’s a ridiculous reproduction chair that doesn’t even have the damn rockers anymore and it’s just a thing. There’s no soul attached to this non functional, ugly chair that obstructs my view of beauty. I resent my attachment to all this stuff. All these things; this museum that is my past.
Often I envision that I have the option to hire a curator for my life, a preservationist for all these bits of memorabilia. Just hang onto these things for me while I go out and live, because the thing is I can’t hang onto it all and also be free. That’s the rub I guess.
What if I light a cigar from the flames when I burn this chair tonight in the fire bowl, while I drink a gin martini in your honor, grandpa.
This morning, the chair falls victim to my claw hammer as I disassemble the deck rails too, making way for an unobstructed view of my son’s fourth birthday.