Monday, December 29, 2008

Clips

There are certain home-movie clips I'd like to have on hand, along with a personal assistant who would play them on demand. For example, upon holding a newborn and feeling the sharp pang of longing in my gut, I would shout "roll the tape!" and the nearest wall would show choppy scenes (soundless but for the old-fashioned ticking of the film) of my chubby-bunny-postpardum-body, hunched and resembling the grim reaper, patting the crying newborn propped against my shoulder. The film would zoom in on the clock, showing 1 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., then cut back to me, looking even grimmer, alternating between nursing, changing tar-baby poops, and patting the baby's back.

To drive the point home, the film would then show a certain date on which I did not have a newborn in my home-- say, June 2, 2008, and zoom in again on the clock: 10 p.m., me in bed, 2 a.m., me in bed, then 4:30 a.m., me still in bed, sleeping soundly upon a drooly pillow, the only noise in the whole house the quiet and peaceful dripping of a leaky faucet. I would gently hand the newborn back to its mother, offer a kind remark about its sweetness and beauty, then head for the door, clicking my heels into the air like Maria in The Sound of Music, carrying her guitar-case to the Baron's house upon escaping the Abbey.

Later, finding myself at the end of my parenting rope, feeling the strands of Love, Joy, and Mercy unravelling in my grip, leaving me dangling on the precipice of the abyss, one finger wrapped fiercely around Hope, I would shout "roll the tape!"

The film would again materialize upon the wall, this time showing the offending child at his/her cutest.

Eli: calling out sweetly from his bed at 6:30 a.m., "Can I come to Mama's bed?," then sandwiching his small, soft body between Tobin and I, delightedly wiggling his bottom back and forth, then accidentally poking me in the face with his bony little elbow and patting me gently, saying, "Oh! I sorry Mama! You okay?," then leaning in closer, his sweet-hot breath on my face a preamble to his whispered words: "Mama, come closer so I can give you some nice snuggles."

Or Sylvia: running into my bathroom in the morning, stripping off her jammies, hunching her naked body into the shape of a little bird, perching like a baby owl on a branch in front of the floor heater, scrunching her face into various silly and welcoming expressions since words elude her at this hour, then, without warning, spinning her legs like a cartoon runner and sprinting out of the bathroom, leaving spiraling dust bunnies in her wake.

Or Eleanor: jumping out from under my blankets when I come to bed at 10 p.m., pouting her bottom lip to say, "I tried to go to sleep but my heart just kept saying, 'I want Mama,'" then, ignoring my scowl, smiling broadly and leaping out of bed to follow me into the bathroom like a faithful puppy, asking me one hundred questions about make-up remover, zits, and floss as I get ready for bed, then moving into a series of existential questions involving the universe, people, and made-up animal breeds with horse hooves and dog fangs, my face initially showing annoyance but then a rush of love as a magical shift in perception changes my time from scarcity into abundance.

I know that someday I will sit in a comfortable chair and hanker for the days of my youth. I will sniff the air like a blood-hound, hoping to conjure the smells of newborn babies, spit-snuggled blankets, and dirty necks through olfactory memory. And then I'll remember my trusty personal assistant, and I'll command in a craggly yet authoritative voice, "roll the tape!"

I'll expect the wall to show my young husband, looking handsome and acting kind, and my children-of-old being cute and hilarious. I'll be surprised-- but just for a moment-- to see instead a clip of myself making dinner at 34, my face surly and tired, surrounded by three interrupting children, each demanding different and competing things, one pushing another aside, while the third clamors up onto the counter to get a better look at what I'm cooking. Then I will laugh a wise, ugly, old cackle that comes from the depths of my flabby old-lady belly, not caring if anyone hears me, and I will feel blessed from the top of my dry, flaking scalp to the bottom of my splitting, yellow toe nails.

9 comments:

Kendra Joy said...

Haha! First, this post is beautiful on so many levels (as always).

Second. Thank you for that last sentence. I laughed so hard imagining you as you described your aged and decrepit self. :)

You really do have beautiful kids - even if they drive you nuts at times...

Christina said...

This is one of your best.

Alicia said...

Isn't this the truth? Beautifully written!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

this blog brings to mind the words of a song from a bygone era as follows: Where are you going, my little one..little one where are you going, my baby, my own? Turn around and you"re tiny. Turn around and you"re grown. Turn around and you"re a young mom with a child of your own...

jw

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Summer said...

Will we live in the Olympia Project for the ending of this post?

:)

hope so!

jen said...

oh babe, this was absolutely beautiful.

bgirl said...

allyson, you are too funny....this is such a great post!!!!