I feel pretty blessed. I really can’t complain (though sometimes I do). I have friends who are like family and family who are like friends. I have a job that I (usually) enjoy. I live in a town I love with a little nuclear family we’ve created that is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Notwithstanding all of this love fest, I admit to getting a little down from time to time. And a little overwhelmed. I felt the overwhelming nature of things creeping up on me lately and I decided today – rather than letting it get out of hand and taking it out on those closest to me – that I needed to take some time off. I know this is a luxury that so many are not afforded, but I didn’t think I’d be doing those less fortunate any good by stewing in my overwhelmingness just for the sake of solidarity. So, with knowing that I had done triage on my work at the office and could afford a vacation day, I woke up and said to AO, “I slept really poorly last night. I think I’m going to stay home this morning.” He said, “Ok, but why don’t you take the whole day off?” The whole day? Done and done.
These hours off have felt decadent, blissful and all too short. I’ve stripped the bed and am washing the sheets, but I’m still in my pajamas and watching Income Property on HGTV. An hour or so ago I finished Sisterland. I’m still sort of sitting with it, but I declare Sittenfeld has produced another excellent book. It’s no American Wife, but what is?
For a long time while I was reading the book, I wasn’t sure how much I liked the story or characters, but I did appreciate the writing. But as I approached the end, I began to realize that I was relating to the characters and their struggles with love and forgiveness, for accepting their loved ones despite – and sometimes even because of – their flaws. I really have a lot to learn.
When Kate’s father says to her, “‘We all make mistakes, don’t we? But if you can’t forgive yourself, you’ll always be an exile in your own life,” I nearly cried. I hope I can instill this in Mollybear. When I read this, though, I did cry:
How peculiar, that morning we pulled out of our driveway on San Bonita Avenue for the last time, to think that Rosie and Owen wouldn’t remember living in this city, this house; if Rosie did remember, it would be only vaguely. There are, I have learned, so many gifts of motherhood, and so many sadnesses, and one of the sadnesses is the asymmetry of the family experience: that in spite of all the daily nuisances, and in spite of the unforgivable way I transgressed, these years of the children being little are the sweetest time in my life. And yet, for Rosie and Owen and Gabe, these won’t be their best years. They’ll grow up and go away, they’ll find spouses and have sons or daughters, and no matter how much we loved them, they’ll probably recall their childhoods as strange and confusing, as all childhoods are. The happiest time in their lives, if they’re lucky, will be when they’re raising their own families.
I got choked up again, writing it here. This is the happiest time.