Editor's Note: Since this is the first week of school & all, Mrs. Scribe feels the need to alleviate the stress in her life & do a little recycling. The following is a post that originally appeared here. Enjoy!
She lights the candles, one by one. Five different scents, in different stages of meltdown, scavenged from the right-hand cabinet of her mother-in-law’s dining room hutch. The hutch that Julie and Lynn U-Hauled clear across the country one Spring, along with a table, seven chairs, and four young boys eager to see their cousins.
She turns on the water, and lets the faucets run full-out. The hotter, the better, as she recalls. Sometimes she wonders if she’ll end up like one of those frogs, the ones in the experiment. Her high school Biology teacher once told her that if you put a frog in a pan of cold water on the stove and turn on a burner, he’ll never know he’s being boiled alive. She always thinks of the frog as the steam starts to rise.
She goes to the back closet and gets down the old terry cloth bath robe. Not so white any more, but just as soft. A slight yellow tint around the cuffs. The robe she used during her hospital stay after the birth of their first little girl. An emergency C-Section. The baby was coming out sunny side up, the doctor said. The procedure—they called this gutting and stitching a “procedure”—lasted less than 10 minutes. Thirteen hours of labor, 10 minutes of delivery, one week in the hospital. Mr. Fairway went out to buy her a robe so she would be comfortable during her stay.
She closes the bathroom door, turns out the lights, gets into the tub, and sinks in a profusion of orchid-scented bubbles. Twists off the cold tap and lets the hot run a few minutes more. The hotter, the better, as she recalls. Then she thinks about the frog.
Her long legs (a 34-inch inseam, to be precise) don’t quite stretch all the way out in this standard-issue tub. The formica (Julie always wonders when she’s going to replace it—the answer is “no upgrade needed.” She likes the ’70s effect) casts an unsettling glow. The candles sputter, the bathwater laps a tiny bit over onto the tile floor.
She has time to think.
For 22 years, life turned itself—and the two of them—topsy-turvy. She started off on the journey of motherhood without a clue. In fact, when the first precious little bundle came home from the hospital and pitched a screaming fit, Mr Fairway asked, turning the baby over onto her stomach, “Do these things have an ‘off’ switch, or what?”
The years rushed by in a cacophony of clichés. And before they knew it, they were sitting through yet one more of life’s little truisms: high school graduation. The youngest was about to embark on a journey of her own. Then the girls had their Honda loaded down, with more than 15 pairs of shoes. Cue Kenny Chesney, if you please: “There goes my life.”
Empty-Nesting has its moments. Time to talk to one another in an uninterrupted flow of thoughts. Time to try to remember what life was like almost 22 years ago. Time to ask how we got on this merry-go-round to begin with, and wonder if we’ll ever get off. And if we’ll be able to remember all of this sweet, wild, wonderful ride.
Time to ponder what’s coming next, as well as what has come before.
Time to take a bath, in the orchid-scented bubbles that the youngest gave her Mommy as a Christmas present. An unexpected gift, to the woman who has spent the last 22 years wondering if anyone was really paying attention. Life’s still rushing by. But now, she has the time.