Part 1: The chair.
I cannot say how much I slept Friday night. Relatively, my guess would be somewhere between more than the Wife and less than the Boy. As noted, he was teething and she discovered a pain in her abdomen. Saturday was difficult and laden with uncertainty. During nap time, I did chores. Partly as an excuse to get out of the cottage, but partly, I would like to think, in response to some prescient sense of responsibility which resulted in giving a decent buffer for what happened next.
We were all tired and edgy, especially following the previous night, but also on the heels of the 1,700plus mile roadtrip we had just undertaken. I tried to keep my cool, and thought it best most of the day to stay tight lipped, fearing I would lose my cool any moment… probably lost it a bit more than once.
Anyway, once the Boy was down for the night, I went for a walk… pretty much straight to the bar. Which I guess is a bit sad, but there you have it. I was strung out. The Boy and the Wife were both in a state of disrepair; the former identified and manageable, the latter yet to fully rear its head. I was stable, but frayed. I sat down at the bar itself, ordered a scotch and stared down a chair across the room that was misbehaving.
I kept to myself, sipped the booze, stirred the rocks, and pondered that chair, part of me screaming to go over and set it straight. But in the end, I let it alone and sought to glean some wisdom from it; some sense of release, of surrendering to the flow. Little did I know how that time, however brief, would benefit me. I hope that this will be a lesson that sticks with me.
Part 2: Two dogs and a toddler.
It is difficult to keep up with a toddler on the move, especially one already used to the somewhat free form style of parenting I have “chosen” to enlist. Sure, I set boundaries and limits and try to keep some sense of order, but in general, I try to let the Boy explore and experience. The foundation is based on a saying that I learned from a very wise man in Fairbanks whom I have quoted here before; “Children only want to know that they are safe and that they are loved.” Or something along those lines.
So I work first to keep him safe and then to make sure he knows he is loved. I sometimes struggle a bit at always keeping him well fed. I try to keep him reasonably clean. Sometimes, I pretend to keep us within some manner of routine. Aside from that, unless driven by necessity, I kind of let him go his own way and try to follow his lead. Ideally at least. If I learned it at all, I learned that from my old dog when she was teaching me to skijor. Once I finally learned to just let her lead, we had a lot more fun.
That was a different time though. One dog and me, is a very different recipe than two dogs and toddler and me. Any sense that I might have of being in “control” is fleeting at best. Thankfully, the older dog is reasonably steady and stalwart and can kind of serve as an anchor, though, I am not certain that she appreciates the role.
Part 3: Outside the self.
Of course, this whole business is not all about me. It is easy to get tunnel vision, when trying to hold a squirming toddler in one hand, pick up dog crap with the other, and keep one eye on each dog, going in different directions. Tunnel vision, or maybe an aneurism.
No, there is of course the Wife, who I feared, had inadvertently wandered into an old re-run of House; suffering through a mysterious malady, tended to by a kooky, yet seemingly sensible doctor. Of course she was dealing with a whole different level of discomfort… pain in point of fact. Plus, uncertainty, loneliness, likely a bit of fear. All in a strange hospital in a strange town, likely with an underlying, unrelenting sense of guilt for not being at her new job, being here, being whole.
And then there is the Boy. Who knows what the hell he is thinking. Wrenched from the semblance of a routine that he did have, the “school” he had known and the friends he had there, the only home he has known, and forced to spend days on end strapped backwards into a vehicle barreling towards some unknowable destination, waking up in a different place nearly every night. For a few days there, any time he came across a bag, he would pick it up and sling it over his arm, and start saying bye, waving and blowing kisses, to no one in particular.
So I thought to attempt a routine. Reinstate some sense of order in an effort to manage the chaos. But of course that was silly. Nothing is routine in this current life. Nothing is orderly and trying to force it would only present the square peg/round hole problem. So I try to role with it, try to accommodate the dogs, follow the Boys lead, make sure the Wife knows I am always thinking of her, and when I can, breathe. Last night when it was not quite bed time but the cottage was too small to contain all the crazy, the Boy and I went out for a stroller ride in the rain. Sometimes, you need to just play in the rain.