Friday, August 15, 2014

Framed in domesticity

On this day of perfect weather and blue skies, I gathered my little flock together and shepherded them through 2 hours of last minute school shopping.  We went through the pre-game talk in the van, "Are you going to hang all over the cart? Are we here to buy toys?  Are you going to fight with your brother/sister?"  The only correct answer, of course, was "No, mom." 

Shockingly, despite this, there were some hiccups; stealthy sneaking toward the toy aisle, requests for quarters for those horrible claw games, and some sibling teasing, leading to what I call the "mom hiss", where said mother lowers her voice, grits her teeth, and hisses "stop that right now or there will be trouble." 

After a restorative lunch, however, we all went to a nearby park, and the day took a definite upturn.  Within minutes, all three children found a group of other kids to play with, and the next hour and a half flew by.  I checked my messages, watched them play, and actually went for a walk around the park trail, always close by.  At one point Aiden ran over to walk with me, and slipped his warm little  hand in mine.  "How are you, Mama?"  At that moment, I was perfectly content. 

Watching the children play, happily, on a beautiful, cool day, I realized that this was what I imagined motherhood would be, before I had children.  This was my vision, and for a moment, it was reality.  It took ten years to get here, but hey.  That's life. 

There is an old book, called Mrs. Minnver, written in 1940.  The narrator, an upper middle class English woman, wife and mother of three, watches her family during the happy chaos of Christmas morning and thinks about domestic life. 
"... the room was laced with an invisible network of affectionate understanding.  This was one of the moments, thought Mrs. Miniver, which paid off at a single stroke all the accumulations on the debit side of parenthood:  the morning sickness and the quite astonishing pain, the pram (stroller) in the passage ... the nameless horrors down the crevices of armchairs, the alarms and emergencies, the swallowed button, the inexplicable earache, the ominous rash appearing on the eve of a journey, the school bills and the dentists' bills, the shortened step, the tempered pace, the emotional compromises, the divided loyalties, the adventures continually forsworn."

"And now Vin was eating his tangerine, piece by piece, Judy had undressed the baby doll and was putting its frock on again back to front; Toby was turning the glass marble round and round against the light, trying to count the swirls... Mrs. Miniver looked towards the window.  The dark sky had already paled a little in its frame of cherry-pink chintz.  Eternity framed in domesticity.  Never mind.  One had to frame it in something, to see it at all." 

1 comment:

  1. "Shockingly" - ha! Aiden, so sweet. And yes, our pre-motherhood visions of motherhood, so heartbreakingly innocent, taking so long to realize, and so ephemeral when they come .... and yet somehow, deeper and better than we even knew to dream. Want to borrow Mrs. Miniver sometime.