In this darkened room, early on a Friday night, I am in bed with the lights off. I am allowed my laptop light, but cautioned that if I turn on the TV, it must be closed captions only. Yet it is only 8:30 and Mr. Pom and I have barely had a chance to breathe out a sigh of relief and catch up with each other. And the youngest is home for the evening, a rare event.
But Squishy is here, and sleeping overnight is a very rare event.
I'd like to report that his parents are going somewhere special, a concert, a dinner, or to a party.
But the truth is, they are just plain ole' 4-months exhausted and need one night, just one, to lay in bed and watch TV, and then shut the light early and know that they have no reason to get up until late morning.
I remember those days. I especially remember longing for the weekend, my body rhythm still in sync with a work week. And then Saturday would roll around and, guess what, I still had a two month old, or a two month old and 23-month old, or a 5 and 7 year old and an infant, and the weekend just meant the same.
I didn't live near my parents. I was at least 45 minutes away from my family. My parents worked as did my sisters, and if I wanted to go out or have an afternoon to myself, I paid the kid up the street.
Sometimes, though, I'd take some days off work and just go to my mom's for a few nights. I'd hand over the child or children, grab all my sisters' magazines, pull out the quilt I was handstitching, and set up my lair on the long blue couch, confident that the baby would be held, changed, played, with, walked around, and entertained all day. I often would get up in the morning and find my parents and sisters in my old room, standing around the portacrib like the Magi at the manger.
So how can I not do the same for my daughter?
I did laugh out loud when they told me I had to stay with him to put the pacifier back in his mouth should he wake up. Perhaps we did that for #1, and I know #2 was the worst child to put to sleep or to stay asleep on the face of the earth. But by #3, I'm certain that we tucked her into a crib, shut the light, turned on a monitor, and saw her in the morning.
It is a sacrifice, giving up this Friday night. I can't mindlessly surf reality shows. I can't get up and down for a cup of tea or a decaf cap. I can't fret over what I have to clean, buy, and cook for Thanksgiving and how am I going to fit it around a 3-day work week.
I have to sit in my bed in the dark, the only light this laptop. I have to turn on my electric blanket. I have to listen to the sweet, rhythm of my grandson's tiny breath in and out and his occasional loud suck on the binkie.
And I have to write to you to tell you I'd rather be here than anyplace else on earth.
A Countrywoman's Journal
by Gladys Taber
I was so moved by each and every comment that I received in connection with my last two posts. I am answering each one individually, but before I can finish doing so, I want each of you to know what your words meant to me about pomegranatesandpaper, about the stories I told about family and marriage and children, and about the holidays and rituals of my extended family.
As the kids grew up and out of the house, as my law career became more involved and demanding, as I found less and less time to make art and be with my art friends, there was less and less to write about. After my mother died, I could not bring myself to write about family without making a very melancholy and tearful post. I could not write about art and friends because I had lost all time with them. I have never written about my job and never will, and I had become aware that more and more "real time" people in my career were awawre of the blog.
I have self-censored myself into a corner.
After reading your comments, reflections, and memories of the blog, I have gotten more and more angry - at myself. I have allowed myself to become completely estranged from almost all that love in life. I cannot begin to write, nor would I, about how far-reaching this estrangement had become and had brittle I have felt during the past two years.
This Spring, I started to see little bursts of light. I found myself smiling more, returning to some simple crafty pleasures, and spending time with people who were just easy going and fun loving and accepted me for who I am.
And we had a baby.
Well, we had a grandbaby. And it's been the most unbelievable event of my life after the birth of my own three glorious children. He still doesn't seem real. We spend a lot of time just looking at him and saying "I can't believe he's real." We also spend a lot of tie teaching him to do rasberries with his mouth and I am proud to say he is quite adept at blowing spittle at all of us.
So I will cut to the chase: I am not closing down pomegranatesand paper. I am not going to stop being myself and finding joy in writing about silly little things that make my house a home and my family my dearests and my friends my lifelines. It will never be the blog I once wrote, at least until circumstances change whenI retire. It will be focused on art and creative writing, but it will still have occasional family posts. I will go live again on a regular basis in January.
Over the Christmas holidays, I hope to have time to investigate starting a subscription newsletter that I plan to fill with writng and drawings of the most "Gladys Taber" kind.
In the meantime, I am working on a full little project that I will announce shortly. It is the type of project I hope to do more and more of.
See you soon over the kettle. I have honey from Vermont and a toasting fork.
Damn, I miss my parents.
I've been bing-watching Last Tango in Halifax on Amazon Prime streaming. (Where are the American series like this? See Lisa at Privilege for a more intellectual analysis.) I loved every minute of it. Can't wait for Season 3 but suspect we in the colonies will be seeing it sometime later than the Brits.
Whilst I watched, I noticed that the Grande Dame Ann Reid was reminding me of my mother. I can't put my finger on it. Something to do with her clothes, her expressions, an Empress sympatico. This led me into reflecting that my family barely has 2 "elders" around and I really, really miss having someone in polyester pants and a plastic tote bag come over to visit and bring me a box of Entenmann's chocolate chip cookies.
November both excites and makes me melancholy. I become unreasonably anticipatory about pies and the smell of turkey roasting. I feel the need to make things with pumpkin. I decide to put the dining room table in the living room so we can all fit. Mr. Pom ignore me.
At the same time, I gaze mournfully at my mother's yellow enamel "lasagna pan" in which she probably made lasagna once and corn pudding every Thanksgiving. The yellow enamel pan with the practical metal slip on handle frame suddenly represents all I miss about her, about her generation and the generation before her.
My memories are many-layered, like lasagna.
You knew that was coming, right?
So today, November 2nd, All Souls Day makes me miss the familial souls. I didn't go to the cemetery because I was there during the week. I picked up dog crap deposited on MY MOTHER'S GRAVE with two wide hosta leaves, but it was a ver unpleasant experience. Seriously, why are there dogs in the cemetery. I assumed it was dog crap but as I picked up the disgustingness, I thought maybe it was a racoon or a huge, sick squirrel? Anyway, right in the middle of my MOTHER'S GRAVE??
I then snaked my Subaru through the tiny, crazy 90 degree turns of the one cemetery that leads into the other and go visit my mom's parents and sister. Once again, I promise them that I will bring a clipper for the damn pine tree that their next-grave neighbors planted and now encroaches on their headstone. Yes, I can hear them muttering to each other 6 feet below: "Is anyone going to clip this?Why did they allow them to plant this here? She says she's going to clip it next time, but does she??"
We only grow more like ourselves in death.
I promise next time!
I did not do the great grandparents and godmother grave tour as that is reserved for days of complete melancholy-I-am-an-orphan. And when I pulled up, someone from work called me and I was blastedly pissed to be standing graveside talking about a case. Why did I pick up? I am stupid.
My parents's are buried in my father's family plot, which lies between two above ground mausoleums. Legend is that my paternal grandmother intended to have a mausoleum built, but his sisters KO'd it for the cost, and instead put up a very large, very lovely and elegant headstone, complete with bas relief sculpture and Latin inscription.
Unfortunately, that means that Mom and Dad end up with a flat "footstone", so if we want to plant Lilies of the Valley, my mother's favorite flower, then we have to do it up by the headstone and not by their flat tablet cause nothing is allowed to be planted there (except a dog pile apparently).
I don't recall visiting the cemeteries on All Souls Day when I was a kid. My mother talked about marizpan in the shape of bones that they would get at the baker. Damn, I missed all the good ghouly Italian stuff. The cemetery visit after church was the Palm Sunday ritual.
My motherand her family are buried exactly halfway between the house in which she was born and the house they moved to when she got married. My grandmother lived within one mile of her homes her entire life and now can keep on eye on both. This year, the last of her generation died, my Aunt Anne, who was my grandmother's youngest brother's wife. After my great grandparents died, that brother bought the house where my great grandparents, grandmother, and her sister and her family lived. Aunt Anne was the last of them and she died in the house. If you drive past, you can see the pink roses on the chain link fence that my great grandmother planted probably 60 years ago.
I miss that continuity. I take nothing for granted these days in terms of my own children and their homes.
I woke up very tired today after a Saturday of cleaning and purging. I finally have a sock drawer that doesn't explode with unmated socks when you try to pull it open. It was cold and sunny and windy today and I spent the morning painting in my journal. Then we bought cold cuts and drove to The New Mom's house so Mr. Pom could help the SIL hang a mirror and other things.
The baby was sleepy and quiet, too. He only talked to me for a few minutes, content to sit and watch the Jets get slaughtered for awhile. Though he didn't carry on a conversation, he did do "flirty eyes' in which he raises his eyebrows and grins and expresses more than his grunts and intonations can say.
And when he got kinda cranky and didn't know if he wanted to sleep, nurse, or watch TV in his swing, we gracefully left to go Trader Joe's, grab Starbucks and come home and roast a chicken.
Tomorrow is my parents' wedding anniversary. They would have been married 68 years. I hope they are going out to eat with everyone and there's better be a sponge cake with whipped cream frosting, hand-turned roses, and slivered almonds on the side after that.
I'm going to bake something pumpkin.