Last weekend was a doozie. Sunday night about pushed me over the edge.
The curtain is raised. The stage is set:
Our story begins in a small house in southern suburbia. Alas, the sweet and ever-helpful husband is out of town on business, leaving a young working mother outnumbered 3 to 1 with the children. Friday night, darkness falls and the children are tucked away. The 11-year old, beloved cat George falls ill.
Saturday arrives, gray and drippy, bringing the grandmother with a Cosmic Cat Shuttle and babysitting services so the mother can whisk the ailing cat to the vet. Hours later, a second vet visit is required, but, oh no! The baby is napping. A neighbor rides to the rescue and the frazzled, unshowered mother packs the cat off once more.
At the neighborhood veterinary hospital, the patient doctor reveals that poor George has an auto-immune disorder and severe anemia, thus racking up quite a tab and several medications.
Back at the house, George is quarantined in the only bathroom under the fretful care of the forlorn mother. Meanwhile, the sky keeps graying and drip, drip, dripping and the children keep defying, demanding and fussing. The children are once again put to bed at 7:00, but by 10:00 the young son is still awake, still making appearances and frazzling the tired mother even more.
Another night comes and goes, and Sunday proceeds. The calming presence of the father has returned, and the family decides an hour of afternoon rest is required. The baby is asleep. The father is snoring. The mother begins to doze and “CREAK!” the door opens, and in comes the eldest to tattle on her brother. The mother forcibly relaxes and begins to doze a second time and “CREAK!” the door opens, and the act plays out again. And again. And again. The tally of nap-breaking interruptions reaches seven. So much for a mother’s rest.
Father must again go off to work for the evening. Then the mayhem truly begins, all the while the ailing cat remains in the one bathroom and the rain continues dripping from the dreary sky. Six loads of washed laundry require folding, so the mother sends the squabbling older children to their rooms to put away their toys and give her a moment’s peace. The baby cries in the exersaucer at the mother’s side, and the sound is too much for her raw nerves. As the mother folds the massive pile of garments, the baby unfolds them and eats crumbs from the floor.
The foursome survive dinner, and bedtime is announced early. But, alas, a January thunderstorm arrives to smash into oblivion any hope of repose in the small household. After much cajoling, threatening and commanding, the children are once again nestled all snug in their beds.
Or so the mother thought.
Not once, not twice but TEN times did the children appear soundlessly behind the mother, who was attempting to decompress in the living room. Each time, the word “Mama?” sent the poor young woman jumping and her blood-pressure rising.
Meanwhile, the rain continues to pour, and a drip, drip, dripping is heard indoors….coming not only from the fireplace, but also from the art room. The window. Above the art desk. Above the pastels. Above the expensive pastels. And a child calls “Mama!?” from the same room as the sleeping babe. And the sick cat throws up. And the mother thinks she very well may lose her mind….
But not this time. Because this is life. And life is sometimes quite “exciting” and stress must be managed. It is in times such as these that the mother takes a breath (and perhaps a glass of wine) and remembers to be grateful for such sounds as a repetitive “Mama!?” And also the dripping window, for this is life…the good, the bad and the drippy, all wrapped up into the complexity of a beautiful symphony.
It is in these moments when the mother appreciates the restorative, mood-altering power of music. She can sing to her baby and elicit smiles. She can sing and dance with silly abandon with her children, as laughter smothers tempers. She can listen and breathe that life is good; that life together in this small home is the greatest treasure of all.
The children finally drift off to sleep, the day ends and the curtain falls as the mother stands in the rain while the father digs a sad hole for the family’s first pet. The cat has passed away, and the family is reminded, once again, of the great gift of living out the story of life together.
“I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart.” -The Lumineers, “Ho Hey”