The New Table
21 (or 20?) feb 2014
I sit at the new table Joel found for us. I hear my music played in the living room. Ambient but full of movement and peace. The sound of black sky pushing stars to the front of the line. I hear my husband speaking praises to Bowie enthusiastically as he gives her a bath. I hear the shower gently pelting the bath water, a new routine of hers...to sit in the water but run the shower. Playing in warm rain. Closing the curtain and asking for privacy. Joel encouraging, laughing, instructing her, giving her little challenges. "Can you reach that soap bottle?" "Want to relax?" This is when she will lay back and he'll hold her afloat. She'll often loose herself in his eyes and quietly say, 'Papa.'
I sit at the new table Joel found for us. I'm purposefully neglecting the sound in my head that tells me I'm neglecting my duties. Usually, I would be cleaning the kitchen or straightening her toys or putting out pjs and turning on the space heater in her bedroom. We've made an agreement that if one person does bath/bed, the other cleans or cooks or gets ready for the evening in some way (pouring more wine, lighting candles, queuing up Star Trek), but Joel has told me he doesn't mind if I relax (what's new? I've NEVER heard him say otherwise) so I sit here at the new table. Dishes still uncleared, food consumed. These plates literally an empty symbol of the privilege I possess to fill the bellies of my family, aching as I imagine what it must feel like to not be able to. I made Ina Garten's meatloaf recipe and mashed potatoes with rosemary salt and sweet corn. I'm nursing a French Sav Blanc, Joel opened a Spanish blend (grenace/monastrell).
I sit at the new table Joel found for us and check in with myself. Yes, the familiar fatigue. The same nagging question. The eternal presence of discontent which asks too much of me; a lie that always wraps up the lives of others' into more beautiful packages. Motherhood keeps me so busy, though I couldn't tell you at what. I want something more, but I cannot conceive of a way to add or sustain anything else. Writing has been on the back burner in lieu of mirepoix and caramelizing onions and chopping garlic. Reading turned over a new leaf and now I exercise, making me too tired to read when I used to - at nap time and bed time. A new satisfaction, but an empty journal and neglected piles of library books.
I sit at the new table Joel found for us and marvel at our power and determination of connection, considering how different our lives are right now. The most divergent they've ever been. He, in a constant barrage of conversation, tasks, and stimulation as time bolts from his day. Me, in a constant barrage of shallow solitude, that is to say I am alone, but never quiet. Too much reflection, not enough purpose. Not enough of the tasks that make me feel important and too much of the tasks that actually are important. It's confusing.
Later, I'll clear the table and smirk at Joel's voice reading to Bowie. She has such an opinion quite suddenly regarding the books she wants to read. Smugly, I love that she prefers the BabyLit books (esp Wuthering Heights). I'm illogically proud, and then I remember that to be a good parent is to force your kids to like cool things.
After I leave this table, I'll sink into the hand-me-down couch next to Joel and watch Star Trek (Voyager. Our 2nd time through.) We'll finish off our bottles. We'll eat something sweet. We'll say goodnight.