Tonight while gathering up the boxes of unused holiday decorations to take to the basement, I had the thought that I would like to vacuum, and nearly simultaneously had the thought that I’m so grateful to now have a house again. The thought followed on the heels of the other because when one lives in a house, it is possible to do things like vacuum at 10:30 at night without worrying you will disturb the neighbors. Since selling my house in mid 2008, I have had to concern myself with nearby neighbors who would hear things like vacuuming, or hollering.
It is possible to spend your entire life doing something and not even notice you are doing it. Then one day you notice, and it is as if you are noticing yourself for the first time, wondering what in the world am I doing?
Twice this week I yelled at my Isabel. Yelled at her. I was in the car and she would not stop crying and yelling herself, and I turned and yelled, “Stop yelling!” I then realized immediately my hypocrisy in this statement. Yelling at her to tell her to stop yelling. She was so surprised by my yelling at her that she stopped immediately and stared. I faced forward to drive, then turned back to her and apologized, shamed and sorry. I love my little girl with my whole being. I don’t want to yell at her.
Then tonight, I was sitting in one of the chairs in the living room and begged Milla to push on my back and try to fix the cramp next to my right shoulder blade. It felt as if a rib was out. The pain was relentless, had been gradually increasing all day, and I could hardly bear it any longer. Milla agreed and I laid on the floor. Isabel immediately came and walked on me, her tiny feet making no impression in my skin. So soft, so dear.
Milla walked on the spot and I felt a pop and relief, but wanted more walking because the rubbing felt good to my sore muscles. While she walked, Isabel kept walking too, nearer my head, then she stepped onto the base of my neck and hair. She was wearing shoes with rubber soles and the rubber caught my hair she slid to the side, yanking my hair. I am a thorough tender head, and the pain was immediate and intense.
“Get off!” I screamed. “Get off! Get off now! Both off me now, off off off!”
More lithe and agile, Milla jumped off quickly. Isabel was slower. She slid off and landed on her backside, rolling to her back.
“That hurt!” I yelled at her. “That hurt so much! Don’t walk on my hair!”
Isabel looked at me as if to ask what had happened to her mother. Where had she gone? Who had taken her and replaced her with this screaming banshee? There was no fear in her eyes, only perplexity as she seemed to wonder whether I had gone insane, or had been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by a lunatic. I jumped up and ran to my bed.
Isabel and Milla kept playing. I fell asleep for about 15 minutes and when I woke up, I lay there and wondered what I had become. I don’t want to be a person who yells at my children. Yet I have. I don’t do it often, and this is the first time I have ever done it to Isabel, but I know I have hollered at Milla. It must stop. It’s that simple. I woke up today and saw myself in a way I have not before, not really. Maybe noticing is the key. I think it is.