Technically the room belongs to both boys. But no one sleeps there … and it’s full of toys that only Little Bear plays with … so let’s just be honest and call it Little Bear’s room.
A few weeks ago, Little Bear started crafting and just couldn’t stop. He’s still going strong, churning out 10+ pieces a day. And each one is so special: “Mama! Come look! I drew a mountain of all the numbers from 1 to 100!” I looked it over and marveled at the backwards 2s and the 39 inexplicably followed by 30, like the impossible stairwells in an M.C. Escher piece.
Anyway, we’re running out of (a) space for him to create and (b) places to display his creations. Our dinner table doubles as Bunz’ homework area and Little Bear’s art studio.
So yeah. The kids need a desk.
Today was one of those days where I had a ton of work waiting for me, but nothing – nothing! – seemed more pressing than rearranging the boys’ room and creating space for the new craft table. God, how I love reorganizing!
In a matter of minutes (ok, hours) the room was completely transformed. A dollhouse and other toys from the living room were now tucked away in the bedroom, out of sight, out of mind (for me, anyway). I stood in the doorway to admire the new table, the tidiness, the everything-in-its-place-ness. What a sense of accomplishment! Excitement! Anticipation for them to come home and see!
And then, inexplicably, a wave of sadness. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like I was suddenly peering through a window into an alternate life. In the bedroom of this alternate life was Little Bear, an only child. I watched his shadow move through the room, working intensely at his table, playing pretend, laughing with his friends. So simple, so natural, so #everydaylife.
I realized I was seeing this scene though the eyes of another woman — the woman whose life this belonged to. I took a deep breath and noticed how this felt for her. I felt strangely light and carefree. I noticed that she wasn’t at all worried about the child at play. How lovely it felt not to be worried or concerned about the the next big thing. Maybe she had other worries in life (maybe not), but she felt bright and cheery when she considered the boy and his future. There was no need for concern here. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
In my mind’s eye, I took a step back and saw her standing there in the doorway. She had long, straight brown hair and wore a stylish dress. She looked polished, responsible, in shape, and organized. The very picture of adulthood.
Then I looked at Real Me, standing there behind her. I noticed my unruly hair, my clothes, the fatigue around my eyes and the heaviness in my heart. Oh God. Me.
What would this other lady think about Real Me? I was afraid for her to turn and see. Me, who is clearly not adult enough to have a neat and tidy life. Me, who has so much trouble brewing that I must have brought it all on myself. Ugh.
In the midst of my embarrassment, my mind flashed back to a writing class I took many years ago. A visitor from the New Yorker was reminding us that a good storyline always has tension. Without tension, your story is as bland as white bread, he reminded the class.
I looked back at Real Me and saw my life as a story in print. This is the story of a hellion, a warrior, a champion. This is the story of a woman who takes the bull by the (figurative) horns and fucking wins. She doesn’t let anything get her down — especially when it involves her kids.
And all because she had a freaking bull chasing her around in the first place. Dumb old bull, she might think to herself. But no bull, no fight, no victory. No tension. Bland white bread. End of story.
I turned and saw Real Me in a completely new light. Not as a failure but as a fighter – a woman with one hell of a story to tell. Tension? HELL YES. She deals with whatever life throws at her, which is probably why her hair always looks so crazy.
Will she win? Damn straight. Or she’ll die trying.
(In which a tall, skinny, gorgeous lady presents Real Me with a bouquet of flowers for my birthday. I’m the one with a big blue belly, fluffy brown hair, and yellow sneakers.)