Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm an OGRE!!

I have children. Three of them, in fact. They are funny and smart and entertaining and the loves of my life. But, as anyone with children can tell you, children = stuff in your house. Lots of stuff. All over your house. I really don't mind the stuff everywhere. The fact that my children spread themselves all over the world is a trait they inherited from their mother. As far as I'm concerned, my house is lived in. Well lived in.

I do feel the need to draw the line somewhere, though. That line is permanently etched across the threshold of my bedroom. Beyond that door is Mommyland. My space. The "kid-free" zone. The only exception to that rule happens when the kids crawl into the "big bed" for some reading time with me or their dad. Otherwise, I am savagely territorial about my sleeping space. I know, there are lots of people who believe in the benefits of co-sleeping. I am not one of them. I believe my bed is for two things - sleeping, and, well... things that my children have no business witnessing!

My husband, bless his gigantic heart, does not have the same possessive streak where our bed is concerned. He would rather take the easy way out and haul a crying youngun into our bed in the middle of the night than spend a few minutes in another room comforting the wee wailer. What my dear spouse fails to remember, time and again, is that the only one who gets any sleep "his way" is the offending offspring! Invariably, said offspring manages to monopolize the entire bed and ruin any chance I may have of salvaging a few quiet moments of sleep.

I do not function well when I am deprived of rest. I am moody and irrational. I have warned my children that "if Mommy doesn't get her sleep, she turns into an ogre!" They all believe me. If only I could make my husband believe - maybe then I could finally say goodbye to the squirming, bed-hogging, sleep thieves who occasionally find their way into my sanctuary!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Waiting to Exhale

Since early in March, my parents have been playing a waiting game. Following the conviction of their son, my baby brother, on drug charges, my mother had been holding her breath. She watched him walk out of the court room. She and my father returned home and began the process of "getting on with life" while they wondered where their son was to be held for the next two years. And yet, she did not breathe.

I'm sure that every ring of the telephone made them both jump. Was it him? Was it someone from corrections telling them he'd been knifed in a riot? Where was he? Was he scared? Lonely? I shudder at the thoughts that must have haunted them nightly as they waited for news.

Finally, two days ago, a call. Corrections staff. 

"Are you the mother of *******?"

Requests for verification of personal information.

"Does ******** have permission to call this number, collect?"

Shortly thereafter, I received a call at home. I picked up the phone and heard an enormous sigh of relief.

"I heard from your brother today. He sounded good." 

Finally, I could hear it in my mother's voice. She was breathing again. As she relayed the details of the conversation, I detected a faint catch in her voice; the sound of someone almost starting to cry. But for the first time in a long time, this was the sound of someone crying tears of relief. Her worst fears had been set to rest; he was not caged up in a maximum security facility with murderers and rapists. He was not dead. He was safe.

Easter is fast approaching. We are all looking forward to spring, and the renewal of the earth. My parents will be spending Easter together with all their grandchildren, for the first time in many years. While the house will be full and noisy with the sounds of children and family, there will be a silent guest as well. By way of his conspicuous absence, my brother will become the elephant in the room.

I'm not sure how, or if, I will explain to my children why their uncle is not there. I'm certain the day will come soon enough when I will find it necessary to tell my oldest child the truth about what happened. Until that day comes, I will keep breathing.