Saturday, April 13, 2013

In the Fifteenth Year of Motherhood

I had just driven my eleven-year-old to and from his piano lesson, and now it was 5:45pm, and I was cresting the hill beyond which sat my house. Hoping, needing, despairing, I held my breath as I pushed the remote garage door opener. "Daddy's not home yet," observed my son, without understanding that his father's car was exactly the object on which I'd lined up all my ducks in one neat row, the presence of that car signifying that someone else (please, God, anyone else?) might be handling the care and feeding of all the living creatures within. I pulled into the garage (far more slowly than necessary) and turned off the Subaru's ignition. My son, clutching an unruly pile of sheet music and lesson books, leaped out of the car. "Aren't you coming?," he called. I shook my head no. "Not feeling well?," he yelled. I shook my head yes, and waved him on into the house, whereupon a piano book and some papers tumbled out of his grasp and onto the garage's filthy subfloor. He shrugged, unconcerned, picked them up, and bounded inside. I rested my head on the steering column. I could hear the cat even through the door that had just swallowed up my kid.  The cat was whining indignantly for his dinner. The kids, too, would need dinner. Chores upon chores lay in wait for me on the other side of that door. And I couldn't move. Idly I wondered if I were having a nervous breakdown. I dismissed the thought after deciding that people suffering nervous breakdowns would likely lack the wherewithal to attempt to label their states of being. I stayed slumped in the car for perhaps twenty minutes. The cat's cries grew ever more frantic while I sat, rooted by misery, rebelling against drudgery and its damnable way of cropping up over and over again like dandelions in June. Finally I sighed, collected my belongings, got out of the car, shook myself as would a dog freeing its coat of accumulated raindrops, picked up a stray sheet of music, and went inside to feed the hysterical cat and my two blithely affable boys.

9 comments:

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

I have done this too. Sat in my car because I couldn't summon the grit to face All Those Things. I have even fallen asleep one or two times as I waited for The Will to Do What's Next to shake me out of my languor. So, you're not alone. And if it makes you feel any better, occasionally my kids become rooted in the car too, and we sit there like stone statues thinking, "I just can't make it up the stairs and into the house."

Kate Rivera said...

I love the variety of your writing these days. So many touch points to draw us in, so much of life that we all share. Comforting to the soul.

ozma said...

I've sat in the driveway until my husband got home. My kid will happily sit in the driveway if she has a book to read. Just...no energy.

Then I order pizza.

Those days are over, I guess. Infants aren't so compliant with those kinds of things. I'll probably start doing speed or something once I wean.

Liz said...

I love this piece and can identify with all of it (including the affable, oblivious, trail-of-crumpled-stuff-in-their-wake children). Even the caterwauling rings true to our home (though I have a very dysfunctional relationship with our rather crazy and very cranky cat....I suspect - hope! - this is not reflected in your house!!). I am planning to get serious about demanding more contribution from my boys with the household shitwork (apologies but I can't think of another word for the daily drudgery you describe). I have plans for a burst of time after dinner where every household member has to spend 15-20 mins working solidly on dishes/laundry/sweeping etc. My older son has become keen on cooking and has made us some curries recently, insisting that I stay out of the kitchen (because he doesn't like feeling hovered-over, not to give me a rest!). I've been shocked at the level of gratitude and joy I felt at having dinner cooked FOR me. Weren't many veggies involved, but I didn't care!! My husband is a good cook and does heaps at home, but there's always going to be an imbalance when youve got a FT/PT work divide, as we do (by choice...makes me feel guilty for complaining!!). Sometimes, when elbows deep in dirty dishes or laundry baskets I try to think of how these tasks bond me to people all over the world who are doing the same things. Sometimes it helps. I'll give you a mental nod next time!!

alejna said...

I can identify with this also. Sometimes it feels like it takes an enormous act of will just to...function. There are so many demands on my time and energy. I may even, on occasion, fantasize about faking my own death just to have a bit of time and space to myself.

Mary Gilmour said...

After fifty years of getting dinner on the table, sometimes in series for three family members on different timetables, it takes an extreme act of will to get me on my feet and into the kitchen to make yet another meal.

And I'm retired, with no kids home.

I got up at 6:55 this morning to make a birthday cake for this evening. Whose birthday? Mine.

Rainbow Motel said...

You've nailed the emotional crash-and-burn that I used to feel and somehow STILL feel teaching at my inner-city school. If it weren't for the weekends, I'd be completely nuts.

Christine said...

sometimes the car really feels like a safe haven.

Anonymous said...

Right in the middle of a nervous breakdown is a kernel of observant sanity. Your very own "black box."

De