We’ve lived in Mulletville Lite for just about one month. We still haven’t fully unpacked, but the house looks like it belongs to us and not to my father (or to my mother and father for that matter, when they lived here together in the early 1980s).
Look at this before and after!
There have been some funny moments, like when Junior announced, “I like living here. It’s like we live with Grandpa, but he’s never home.” There have been some strange moments, like when I ran into my third grade teacher in the CVS pharmacy. And of course there have been some sad moments—moments that zap me back to my parents’ divorce—but shit, everyone has a closet full of childhood schmegma, right?
Last night though, wow, something really, really strange happened. My mother was spending the night (don’t even get me started on what it must be like for her to sleep on the couch in a house that used to be hers). She was in the kitchen making dinner (see “don’t even get me started” comment). Junior and I were in the living room playing dinosaur invasion.
My mother called that dinner was ready and I swear, my brain forgot what decade it was. Like something out of Freaky Friday, I jumped into Junior’s head. I saw the world for one split second through Junior’s eyes. I felt what it was like to be young. To rely on my parents for everything, to trust them, to have faith that they would take care of me.
The worry was gone. The stress. The inhibition. I just was.
It was really fucking trippy, and it was really fucking beautiful.
Trying to describe a moment like that is kind of impossible. When I told Chuck about it, I sounded like someone coming down from a mushroom trip.
“The colors, dude! The cull-oooors.”
He said he got it but we both knew he was doing the obligatory nod/smile. That he experience what I did isn’t really the issue though. What I took away from that moment is this: We’ve whittled down parenthood to such uptight minutae. Such fretting and fixation. Helicoptering. Tiger Mommying. We’ve gotten so freaky about poop apps and mud boots. But really, it’s the trust that matters.
The biggest gift Chuck and I can give Junior and Diddlydoo right now is to take care of them and foster that sense of trust. It doesn’t matter whether or not naps are on time, whether teeth are perfectly brushed, whether vegetables are organic, or whether their poop is neon green.
(Fine, that matters but I’m not emailing my pediatrician a picture of it.)
Those things are miniscule specks in the bigger picture of what we give to our children when we let them know we will take care of them.
I’ve tried to reconnect to the out-of-body feeling I had, but I can’t get it back. I wish I could. I guess I could ask my mother to come over and make dinner again, and to call to us in hopes of recreating it. But some gifts are funny like that. They only yell for you once.
About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.