Every mom needs an angry chair. In the beginning, mine was actually a porch swing that had been moved from my grandmother’s front porch in Lubbock to my back porch in Muskogee. Then it became my other grandmother’s white wicker rocker on the front porch in Tomball, and when that chair disintegrated on the balcony of our house in Shenandoah, I replaced it with another wicker rocker. Everyone in the family knew that if I was in that chair to leave me alone. I would return to the family when I was ready, when I was calm and didn’t feel like running secretly into the night, never to be seen again.
That’s the ugly secret of motherhood that no one warns you about: you will sometimes imagine what life might be like surrounded by civilized toilet-trained people who can cook for themselves and take themselves places and put themselves to bed.
Sometimes, when I was raising my kids, I wanted to scream. I wish I could say I never did, that I kept my cool just like June Cleaver: that I could manage a tasty and nutritious meal, get the kids to dance class and ball practice, tutor the homework, and keep sparkling potties, all while looking beautiful and hopelessly alluring to my husband. Pardon my French, but sometimes I just lost my shit. I know I made my kids cry. I know I hurt them, and I regret every one of their tears with every ounce of my being.
But if I could feel that moment coming, that volcano about to erupt, I would get the hell outside of the walls into the safety of my angry chair. I would rock furiously and visualize running when it was dark. A duffle with toothpaste and clean undies, and me on the open road.
Have your kids ever brought you “breakfast in bed?” If you have girls who have a play kitchen, at some point, they have probably brought you a breakfast of plastic waffles on tiny pink plates. Or maybe you were served playdoh eggs. Recently, a friend posted on facebook that her girls had done this. Maybe your boy has “mowed the lawn” with his bubble mower.You may have had your hair fixed or played “Dumbo” on the VHS player at 4 a.m. for a sleepless preschooler.
In my fantasies of being alone, it was imagining bedtime that always drew me back to myself and to my loved ones. We read to our kids every single night (and at nap time). Libby loved for me to sing to her, and the song order was: “You Are My Sunshine,” “I Love you, Libby (really, “We Love You, Conrad” from “Bye Bye, Birdie”), “Edelweiss,”and “All the Pretty Little Horses.” Hilary popped Libby’s toes and Travis Austin had a small collection of beanie babies.
Motherhood never ends. That is what I am discovering now, down in my gut. In preparing to sell the house, I cleared off the balcony. The wicker rocker went into the garage sale. I still find myself needing it, and I thought that was all done! The oldest cannot quite pay her bills and I have to take care of her dog. The boy is having a hard time finding his path and getting enough work hours to be more independent. The baby makes honest mistakes and costs us over $200 in car impounding fees and leaves me without transportation constantly.
Would I trade them for all the freedom in the world? To look like Carrie Bradshaw and travel and wear elegant clothes? To have a jet-setting career? No way.
In the end, my kids are my legacy. They are my gift to the world. More selfishly, they are my gift to myself. And I am glad I threw away the receipt.
Anyone have a rocker for sale?