“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Thankful Prayer

I'm sitting in the middle of a snowstorm. I have been housebound since Monday night, as storm watches and warnings that I didn't really believe swirled around the news. I'm from Buffalo, and I've grown up with a "take it as it comes" attitude, with a side order of, "I'll believe it when I see it."

The snow is now covering our first story windows. In the street in front of my house, cars are abandoned and mostly buried. I've seen plows and policemen get stuck, I've seen neighbors plug their way through six foot drifts to help them. I saw a person, bundled up on a stretcher, carried down the street by six men. I distracted my children from this. To them, this is an adventure. It should be.

Facebook is flooded with photos and statuses detailing everyone's own personal storm. Many are without power or heat. Most of us have not been able to leave our driveway for days and aren't sure when it will be possible. Most are going stir crazy. They worry about back to work and back to school and groceries and all the things we all worry about even when there isn't a storm keeping us away.

But I think...I'm not just in the middle of a snowstorm. I'm in the middle of my family room bundled under two blankets, one of which is my sacred sweater blanket, the gift I requested and received from Joe the fall he spent working in Pittsburgh while the boys and I stayed behind missing him. My baby is napping, and from the next room I hear the sound of boys giggling together.

I don't want this storm to end. Easy to say, I guess, because I have power and food right now. Maybe I'll change my tune tomorrow or the next day. Probably. But I don't want to be at work, and I don't want to think about tests and quizzes and vocab, given or received (since I'm an ELA teacher). I want to not do anything. I want to not be going anywhere. I want to be, and have wanted since I went back to work in September, right here where I am. I'm not going to wish that away.

Baby Max and I were in my bedroom this morning, me in the rocking chair and him giggling at my feet. Suddenly, he reached for me. "Up!" he demanded. He's delightfully imperious. Imperiousness is only special at this age, of course. It gets a bit tiresome as they grow (evidenced by Noah). I obliged, and he leaned against my arm, smiling with eyes and mouth, the best kind.

I flashed back instantly to a year ago. Where was I then? Trapped at home again, though in a very different way. Max was just a few weeks old, and I was recovering from a very painful C-section and hernia repair. Max was not eating. I can't remember the exact day it was decided he would not be a breastfeeder, but it was somewhere around this date. And I was devastated. Of course I wanted him to grow. He had to start growing. But I had failed. At least, in my eyes. And I hadn't failed through any fault or choice of my own (despite what the midwives told me, but curse them, anyway). I had failed by my very nature, my makeup. I couldn't physically do what God had intended.

I will probably never fully heal from that.

My mother has always sworn that the first year of your baby's life is the hardest. She insists that it's that way for everybody, though I haven't seen much proof of it. Mostly people share the good things. The firsts, the milestones, the heart-to-bursting joy that only comes from being a parent. Some will share a crisis or two, but just enough to scare the hell out of you and then move on. I really want my mother to be right--she is about most things--because I don't want to be the only person who has struggled with things that I always imagined would come naturally.

I'm surprised by the number of people who have noticed the sharp decline in my blogging, more surprised still by those who bother to mention it. I'm flattered. I expected Max's first year to be filled with inspiration for me as a writer, but it has proven to be the exact opposite. Babies are exhausting, and so are nine-year-old boys and Noahs. (Noah, I have tiredly but lovingly determined, will wipe me out any time anywhere any age, just because.) I doubt very much that most people want to hear "I'm so tired" three-hundred-sixty-five days in a row; I can assure you, Joe is rather sick of it.

Returning to work this fall filled me with dread, and yet, there are days I guiltily consider it a reprieve from my real life. I drink hot coffee in the quiet solitude of my early morning classroom. There is no silence quite as lovely as a school without children; it nearly reminds me of a church before Mass. The trouble is, every second that I am at school my heart is aching to be somewhere else. I feel almost outside of myself for missing the life I lived for the last few years. It wasn't very eventful. It wasn't touching a hundred lives at a time through literature and writing (because I'm TOTALLY changing the world right now, making ALL the children love the written word). It wasn't glamorous at all--yoga pants and messy buns and cleaning grout. But it was hugs and kisses any time I wanted. It was arriving early to doctors' appointments and being there, ready to go, when everybody woke up in the morning. It was thankless, I can tell you. But it was heroic and life-changing to me. I loved it.

So. Snowbound with my boys and no hope of leaving? Thank you, God. You forever remind me of your goodness and all that I have. Please watch over those less fortunate than us during this crazy storm you have thrown at the one city I know can and will handle it.

Outside my house:

Inside my house:

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