Much like I promised I would do, I spent most of Saturday afternoon cleaning out the clutter in our Master Bedroom.
Most of it centered around my nightstand. And it was emotional, everything I found. Like I mentioned earlier, I am a Professional Packrat. Nothing gets tossed; some memento still survives ten, fifteen years later. Afraid I might never again feel the emotion tied to that memento, I buried them all in my nightstand.
Find #1: Old Love Letters
As you’ll recall, this is one of the things mentioned specifically that you are to toss while cleaning your bedroom. I found a stack of letters, both handwritten and typed, and I sat and read through each one. I admittedly worried that I’d find something guilty or inappropriate in the stack, but amazingly – ALL of the letters were between Bryan and I. Not a single other suitor resided there.
And reading through it all was amazing. Remembering our early, early courtship, and our inside jokes back then, and remembering how taken I was that he played with my hair every night until I fell asleep. I actually wrote – in several different notes – how much I would miss that when our relationship got older.
We’ve been married 5+ years, together almost eight now, and he still plays with my hair. Nightly.
It’s one of those things that you need, especially when you haven’t slept in months because of the snoring. It reminds you that it IS possible to stay happy, even when things around you turn to shit. Maybe you don’t see it often, but it IS possible.
Find #2: My Bodyguard CD
Seriously. I found a CD case full of CDs, so who knows how long it’d been in there, unopened? Who even LISTENS to CDs anymore? But I opened it, curious, and flipped through the pages of forgotten music. Among them, and most proudly I showcased it to Bryan: my soundtrack of The Bodyguard. Seriously, my love of that music is mentioned at least twice at every family gathering, because I tortured them with endless rotations FOR YEARS. And not just the major hit; EVERY SINGLE SONG. I threw my knee out dancing to “Queen of the Night.”
So you can imagine the punch in my gut when I heard of Whitney Houston’s passing that night. I won’t even hesitate to admit that I’ve cried several times about it. I had three vocal idols growing up: Gloria Estefan, Karen Carpenter, and Whitney Houston. I openly admitted that I wanted to grow up and be Whitney Houston as a child. My first recording of me singing EVER was to “Greatest Love of All”. While, realistically, I could really only grow up to mirror one of my three vocal idols (and I do a damn good Karen Carpenter imitation), Whitney always always always held a special place in my heart. Oh, I am still gobsmacked by the loss.
I was thinking about it this morning, as her rendition of the National Anthem at Superbowl XXV played in the background. About how effortless her voice was, about how it truly was a gift bestowed on someone. And I wonder if that’s eventually what did her in, how she had to live with that gift. Most of us find a passion, a hobby, and we live for it, but she had to live with it. She was defined by that gift. I don’t know. I am still so sad.
Bryan has only mocked me slightly, as did my sister (“You should pick less cokey idols.”), but I decided to play The Bodyguard last night as we were preparing for bed. I opened up a CD player in my alarm clock and found a long-lost Debbie Gibson CD.
Someone, please keep an eye on Debbie. I think she might be next.
Find #3: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Okay, I found a LOT of books in my nightstand. A lot of well-intentioned reading that never happened. Autographed copies of books that were given to me because I’d just love this book! and yet I never could find the time to prove them right. This was just one among a stack of them.
And I read the back cover, still only slightly intrigued. When I finished my purge, it still stayed on my bed, looking at me. So I cracked the cover.
About 100 pages later, I put it down, angry. Angry angry angry. I wasn’t even sure at what.
“I don’t know why you’re even reading that,” warned Bryan as I stomped around.
Another hour of downtime that night had me pick it up again, and at page 254, I started crying.
I had not identified with the narrator – the mother of a child – through most of the book. She, like me, hated pregnancy, but she hadn’t immediately bonded with her child. (Unlike me.) She, like me, had Post Partum Depression, but unlike me, she harbored resentment for her child.
But then, her son got sick and she retold his complete change of disposition.
We are currently going through what I can only hope is a phase, and it is literally leaving me winded. My child suddenly hates me. And I don’t know how to deal with it.
Tony and I are often left to our own devices. While Bryan and Jack run off and have big boy adventures, Tony and I fend for ourselves, making our own. We have often declared eachother “my best fwend”. But for the last two weeks, he has been unrelentingly mean to me. Cruel, even, because he knows what he’s doing. He will cry when I pick him up from school, loudly moaning how he only loves his daddy. He willfully disobeys – and this is not like my child – while looking me straight in the eye. He argues EVERY SINGLE POINT of EVERY SINGLE DISCUSSION and when Bryan walks in the door? Runs to him with love and abandon and is a different child.
I know it’s a phase. I do. I remember Linda writing often about it, and me thinking how heartbreaking it would be for me when we reach that phase. We’re here and it is. And I realized I had been taking out my hurt on Bryan, like he had done anything to bring on this behavior. (He hadn’t.)
Someone once told me that I should be flattered that Tony acts like this around me; I should be flattered that he trusts me enough to act out his emotions around me. I am not flattered. I am crushed.
And I read this book – a book about a child who eventually goes on a shooting rampage at his high school – and I could suddenly identify all too well with the narrator and I looked around at my bedroom, perfect and clean and tidy now, and I thought, “Why do we do this?”
But. I am an old pro at becoming too emotionally involved in a book. In fact, just earlier that weekend, when I was up at dawn with Tony (WHERE WAS YOUR PRECIOUS DAD THEN, TONY? OH, HE WAS SLEEPING.) and Tony decided to do some “exercises”, which meant running around the living room in a crazed circle. And all I could think of was that book Room, where they are confined in a shed, trapped by a kidnapper, and she has her son run around in circles for exercise, and I thought, I am no better than her at this parenting thing, and she’s trapped in a garden shed.
And I had to stop and put the book away. Because what it really all meant is that we as mothers – bloggers, authors, what have you – all go through the same routines. Whether we’re stuck in a shed, or mothering some unloving being, or looking at our child, so fortunate with this gift bestowed upon her, we are all just doing the best we can. And there are common plot points in every parenthood, aren’t there? Where we feel our hearts being torn open and we wonder just how well we can ever mend them again, and also sit quite dumbfounded at how much our hearts could hold before the tearing started. And we have to realize that we’ll do the best we can and then pull our hands back to our sides, fists tightly closed to keep from grabbing again, and hope that we can watch the rest happen.
Sometimes, they grow up to do bad things. Sometimes, they lose their way despite the gifts bestowed upon them. But sometimes, they grow up to be a person so loving and so amazing that they play with their wife’s hair every night, until she falls asleep to dream about the next big adventure.