if you’re evil. and you sometimes muse to yourself silently (and even sometimes out loud) as your spouse disengages from your daughter to read a seed catalog or fails to engage at all after coming home from work but instead launches himself into the shower and then straight into dinner, that, “thank god i’m around. things would really fall apart around here without me. what would they do without me here?” you would fume about it, but be secretly self satisfied and feel like all is right with your tiny world, in which your role is queen and everything is carefully orchestrated around you like a symphony.
but then, you might, like me, get a very rude wake up call to your own insignificance if you, say, feel very nauseated to the point that you are laid up on the couch unable to do much else besides groan and roll onto your other side, like i was yesterday, and dad takes over. but he doesn’t just take over, no. he does a stellar job. and this is after working nine and a half hours at his real job. what the fuck?
i could hear ruth laughing, not a chuckle, no, a full out belly laugh, as they ate dinner together. greg put on his silly voice and didn’t mind her sitting on his lap, something that i despise as of late and fills me full of self-pity (“i can’t even eat my dinner in peace!” i say indignantly). he prepared her favorite foods (macaroni and cheese and left over sloppy joe) and to say that i was not missed at the table would be an understatement. i groaned again, louder, but no one noticed. then, greg began to ask about her day. “here we go,” i thought wickedly, sure of my job security as her personal translator, “he’ll be hollering in here any minute to figure out what she’s trying to say. she’ll get all frustrated and start crying. it’ll be delicious.” but no. at one point, he thought she said that she walked through a big door when she really said that she talked to a big girl, but he shortly figured it out and they were off and running, holding an a and b conversation just fine, thank you. i guess i’ll “c” my way out. they went on to dump all of her toys out on the floor of the bedroom, something mom is too anal to ever do, play downstairs for an hour or so, again, more toy-dumping, all the while laughing and talking loudly, chasing each other around and just having a real swell time.
well, imagine my surprise, sitting there near death on the couch, scarcely moving, like a sloth, as i witnessed all of this going on, to realize that greg is not only the bread-winner in the family, he is also a better stay-at-home parent than me. i suddenly realized that if i wasn’t there, god forbid i catch the plague and die a horrible, painful death, they would be…fine, gasp, without me. it’s like that movie, right? it’s a wonderful life or something? well, it’s a shitty life when you’re about to vomit up your stomach lining and on top of that you suddenly come face to face with life without you, and it’s just grand. plus, greg would probably remarry someone hotter and younger than me and who is a full-time pediatric surgeon or something stupid like that, who doesn’t have anger issues or hang-ups from her childhood, and who ruth will come to regard as her real mother as she’s so young, she probably wouldn’t even remember me.
wow. these are the things that can happen when a pessimist spends too much time ruminating alone on a couch.
today, i feel much better, thanks, and spent the morning cleaning like a mad person, my cure-all for depressive moods. but, really, it is good to know that greg really can step it up, much more than i tend to give him credit for. and it is good to stop feeling so high and mighty about my role as mother supreme. we all know i’m far from perfect. and, i dunno, what was the moral of that movie? the wonderful life one? i don’t think i’ve ever watched it all the way through. but, if that guy got a glimpse of what i saw yesterday, it was probably that life goes on, with or without you, and really, people will be fine one way or the other. the only reason to go on living is really just for your own merry amusement. in other words: enjoy life. we don’t know what it is, but there are plenty of things about it to enjoy, so let’s do that.
right now, i am enjoying my morning coffee, and this humid fall morning and the sound of a robin outside in my yard singing. let’s meditate on that.