Poems & Essays

05 Feb

Another Snow Day at Home with the Boys

General/Column One Response

Two days after the snowstorm
the air is brittle to the touch.
I’m free to go out
but it would be madness in this wind.
And so
I pray for the power to stay
to be steadfast.

Running away
was always my first response
when things went awry.
Parents arguing in the kitchen?
Run upstairs!
A pillow over my head in the bedroom
Hurtful friends?
Not-so-accidentally lose touch
Boyfriends starting to disgust me?
Move on.
Move away.
Throw it away and get a new one.
Why bother repairing something broken
when it’s so easy to start afresh?

Moving through life like a cyclone
pulling up things by the roots as needed,
casting them aside willy-nilly as I went along,
scarcely looking back.
Round and round and round she goes
and where she stops, nobody knows!
Until I heard Eva Cassidy sing
“If you love all men
you’ll surely be left with none.”
And one day the storm settled.

I met him and laid it all down.
He was coming out of a similar storm
and did the same for me,

only he’d been at it longer.
Of course,
no question,
we both promised to stay no matter what.
All was still.
All was quiet.
The snow settled.
The boys came along.

And now I stop
and look
at the things I am left with:
the door that never never shuts all the way,
this drain that tends to clog
that chip in the floor…
and what was paradise
seven years ago
is beginning to erode.
The old pattern calls
run! run away!
start over! start afresh!
But now I whirl around and face it.
I’ll stare you down, old devil.
This is between me and you.
Leave them out of it.
Because I know
if I follow you out that door
you’ll only start up again with me
someplace else,
leaving total devastation in my path.
I’ll sit you out right here.

And so I begin again
unloading the dishwasher
changing a diaper
sorting the laundry
boiling water for pasta
reading another board book
fixing another snack
while you scream and scream in my head
He’s home!
Shouldn’t he be helping?
He’s still asleep!
What would another man be doing right now?

Probably running.
Maybe this is how men run away
without leaving the house.
They go to their “man-caves,”
their “home offices,”
their studios
their TV sets,
where they can’t hear the whining
the crying
the tattling
the shouting
the endless demands.
Easier to stay at work late
or submerge in work at home
oblivious to a spouse’s signals for help;
selectively hard of hearing.
I get it.
I do.
I myself prefer a day at work
to a snow day
spent entertaining two stir-crazy kids.
But I stay.
For them.
For him
and for the promise I made to him.

So I do an about-face
scatter that pattern to the wind
over my shoulder,
drink in the deliciousness of what’s here:
an afternoon nap with a two-year-old nuzzled in my neck,
the contagious excitement of hide-and-seek,
the wonder of sherbet made from juice and snow.
All my boys like it.
Even my grown-up one.
To set it before him gently
so the spoon doesn’t clatter against the bowl
and then return with a wry smile to the dishes…
it’s not what I pictured.
Maybe I thought the 21st Century household
divided as cleanly down the middle
as the snow plow’s path,
equal work on each side
tossing gender roles to the wind.

Well, sister, reality just ain’t like that.
Guys just plain don’t pull their weight in the casa.
There’s no escaping biology.
Yeah, I’ve seen the pictures in National Geographic
of Norwegian stay-at-home dads
vacuuming the floor with a baby strapped to their backs
while Mama’s at work,
but don’t tell me the little rugrats want anything but Mama
when she’s home.
Sign.
They just want Mama, he shrugs,
bringing them into my bed.

So will this whole thing blow over
when they start school
and grow out of being mama’s boys?
And how old will they be
when the thought of those still, snow-bound afternoons
will send them running
to friends’, girlfriends’ houses, sports, clubs, anything
but stay here.

I challenge all of us
to wait out this New England winter day
here.
In this house.
Together.

 

 

 

Anna Sobel is a jack-of-all trades arts-related. She has two young children and hails from Western Massachusetts.

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1 Comment

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  1. Karen DeBonis

    February 5, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Anna, this brought me back to many years ago when I spent snow days with my two sons. Yes, the day will come when they run elsewhere. For me, it was and still is bittersweet. Thanks for the memories.

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