Because it’s Monday, and I’m glad. It’s another day and I’m still alive to enjoy it.
My son, who is now seven months old, is still learning how to sit up on his own. He’s making progress. I can set him on the floor now at a safe distance from the walls and any nearby furniture, and he teeters around, mostly maintaining his balance, gladly playing with his little cop car and other toy softies for a few minutes while I fold some clothes, or brush my teeth.
But eventually, he falls over and looks at me like now what? Sometimes he gets distracted long enough by the sound of birds through the open window, or the gentle waving shadows the blinds cast on the wall, to forget where he is “supposed to be” and just enjoys the moment. As long as he’s still in good sorts, I let him lay there for a few minutes, doing mini baby crunches as he tries to will himself back into a sitting position, until he gets fed up with this learning nonsense and lets me know it.
I’ll sit him back up and he’ll fall back down. I’ll step out of the room for a minute and when I come back, he’ll be lying on the floor again, looking up at the ceiling and then at me, annoyed it seems, that his efforts aren’t getting him where he wants to go.
I read somewhere recently that expectations are just planned disappointments. I’m beginning to think they might be right.
He was twelve when I met him. Did he even make it to thirteen? I don’t know, because by October he’d already been through two more surgeries and was staying home for the duration of the school year (until he could recover from his brain tumor, the one he’d been battling since he was three years old).
I remember him, toothy, blonde, smiling, donning himself “Medical Matthew” during a nickname activity the first week of school. We used inexpensive video cameras to make a class film, explaining the significance of our selected names. He smiled broadly for the camera and explained energetically that he always got through his surgeries with a smile. But by the third take, I could see he was getting tired.
Gently fingering the dark cross hatch of stitches that held together the incision from his latest surgery (did that make it number fifteen?) he explained to me that he might cry unexpectedly and get tired a lot, and would I mind if he put his head down on his desk for a while. I hugged him and touched his shoulder and sat down next to him while I helped students with their drafts. They knew Matthew. They were used to this by now.
Back before the boy, I went to see the Sherlock Holmes (in an actual movie theatre, mind you), which, if it weren’t for a certain delicious shirtless wonder, I might never have gone to see as I am easily annoyed by other movie patrons (especially if you are a loud talker, and too lazy, arrogant, and rude to put away your phone) and disgusted by the general aroma of butter stained seats that lovingly embrace me in the humid, sticky darkness.
And it wasn’t terrible (the movie or the movie theatre). In fact, If I remember right, I think I actually enjoyed myself. After all, any movie viewing experience that promises to resurrect a dearly loved childhood story is bound to be a success, isn’t it? Well isn’t it?
I must have seen Clash of the Titans a hundred times growing up. OK, maybe it was more like ten, but those were the second best ten days of my life. The first best, of course, would be the ones I spent alone in the woods, my woods, (not all together mind you) which come to think of it, might be the third and fourth best too. When was the last time you were in the woods, silent and alone?
There are a few things you should know about me. First things first. Despite the fact that I love my son, I am not a good mother.
Good mothers are not whiny, sarcastic, cynical and mean. Good mothers do not have vices like vodka, two bottles of wine and a stolen cigarette. Good mothers do not have sex (or at least, they don’t talk about it)–-don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about it—and they certainly aren’t sexy. They do not play poker on Saturday nights. They are not obsessed and obsessive freaks who feel they sometimes do not belong at polite dinner parties. They do not question what good mothers are and what good mothers do. They make do and move on and clean up and stay quiet and calmly handle the mess that is always, always, always coming their way. Good mothers are not x, y, and z, or so I had come to believe through the stories our culture and our corporations had sold me.
I’ll admit, it’s still hard to resist or deny the seductive hard-sell of sainthood that is sold to women. It is protective and polite, beautiful and glorified. It is everything that the alternative is not. Slut? Whore? But these aren’t really options, now are they? Perhaps, you too, have found that parenthood exceeds all your expectations. For myself, I have never, truly, felt more exhausted, wacked out, imperfect, wonderful (and full of wonder) in my entire life.