Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Wednesday morning

In order to understand my Wednesday morning, I have to take you back to my Tuesday morning, and even a few hours prior to that.

In the middle of the night between Monday and Tuesday, I was awakened when my bedroom door opened to dim light from the hall and the silhouette of one of my very tall children. "Schubert was sick all over my room," Shannon bemoaned, "and I don't know what to do."

"Is he dead?" I asked, because I am always worried that the dogs are going to die. "Is he OK?"

"I can't tell," she replied morosely, "He just keeps wagging his tail at me."

That was reassuring, so I got up to survey the damage: dog puke on the comforter and dog diarrhea all over the carpet. I think we could have counted our blessings that the dog diarrhea was not on the comforter as well, or the pillows, but we didn't feel so inclined.

The next block of time we spent scooping, flushing, scrubbing (Oxyclean spray is amazing stuff, and they are not paying me anything to say that), stripping, rinsing, Lysoling (of course) and powering up the washing machine. I was glad it happened in Shannon's room because (1) For once it was not in my room, and (2) I had a cleaning buddy, o joy! Which was very handy in many ways, most specifically at the beginning when Shannon put Schubert outside out on his leash while I started removing the more solid pieces of fecal waste from her floor. Although this probably indicates that I am a very selfish person, at least I am a thankful selfish person. Also, I was able to keep from total panic at the worst point because we are planning to get new carpet anyway. Of course, we have been planning to get new carpet for about five years. The problem is that we need to do certain other jobs first (remodel the bathrooms and fix the woodwork on the stairs), and I am having a buggaboo of a time finding anybody to do them. But anyway, I was at peace about the carpet. It needed to be replaced before, and it does even more so now, and that is OK.

We decided to get the crate out of the basement and put Schu into it, because the last time he did this (in my room), I got up at 4 a.m. and cleaned my guts out, and then awoke to the sounds of more diarrhea hitting my rug at 6 a.m. So Shannon and I brought up the crate and lined it with two (washable) towels, and the dog went in without any complaints, miraculously.

Then I got into the shower and washed my feet and hands. Towards the end of the episode, Shawn had come conscious while we were trying to figure out what to do with the dog. He walked right across the carpet we had "shampooed", so I asked him to wash his feet, too.

Then I lay in bed and could not sleep. It was, for me, a very unusual state of not being able to sleep. Ordinarily when I can't sleep, my mind races uncontrollably from memory to worry to replayed conversation to grocery list, with prayers interlaced at points where I attain a little control. That night, however, I just lay there with a blank mind and could not sleep. This is particularly odd because it was Tuesday morning, and I had a Bible study to teach. I should have been rehearsing my lesson and praying. But there was just a big, blank, empty void in my head. It was among the oddest things I have ever experienced.

At 6 a.m. my alarm went off for Jonathan. It was time for me to make his eggs and coffee (an aside: I didn't let Jon have coffee for many years, telling him it would stunt his growth. But now that he is 6'3" with a size 13 foot, I decided that his growth could use a little stunting before clothing that fits becomes impossible to find. So I let him have as much coffee as he wants, usually.) I reached over to hit the alarm, through the big, blank void that was my brain, and I heard Shawn say, "Is that for Jonathan? What do you usually make him for breakfast?"

So Shawn was a prince and got up with the boy, fed him, sent him to school, while I lay between my sheets, awake and blank and completely dull, and I rested.

I taught Bible study, went to Wegman's, went home, put the food away, ate some lunch at about 2, and basically had a weird and unproductive afternoon. I tried to find a contractor again, so we can someday move forward on this carpet issue, but no-go so far. Nobody was home for dinner, which was lonely. In the evening, DJ had a jazz concert at Syracuse University, so Shawn and I went to that, through the rainy night.

By the time I got to bed Tuesday night, I was utterly exhausted, physically and emotionally. I slept deep until a certain point when I heard someone up, someone out in the hall, someone approaching my bedroom door.

Predictably, the door opened and there was a silhouette of a very tall child standing in the dim light of the hall. "Oh no." I thought "Oh no." And I could not articulate the rest of what I was thinking, but in retrospect I know that the unformed idea was: Schubert has soiled Shannon's room again.

So when I heard Jonathan's voice, and realized that this silhouette lacked any long hair, relief began to flicker into a warm flame in my heart. It was, indeed, Jonathan. "Mom?" he said in his deep, hard-to-interpret, sleepy adolescent male voice, "What's up? It's like 6:56. Did you forget to wake me up?"

The bus comes at 6:59. But I did not care. My heart was being carried on butterfly wings. There was not dog diarrhea awaiting me in the carpet! Somehow in my confusion from the previous night's events, I had messed up my alarm clock's settings, but I did not care. School doesn't start until 7:45. This was not a problem. No problem at all!

Ordinarily, Shawn and I would scold Jonathan for not having used his own alarm clock. But on Wednesday morning I was flooded with good will. I had enjoyed 45 extra minutes of sleep, and I did not have to clean up diarrhea. I told Jon, "Don't worry, we'll get you to school on time." Then I made him coffee and gave him a slice of pumpkin pie, and we were out the door by 7:12.

Jon ate his pie and drank his coffee and, I think, could not believe what a sweet and happy mother he had awakened. As we drove down Soule Road, I clutched the steering wheel and said, "Jonny, you don't even know, you don't even know how happy I am to be driving you to school right now instead of dealing with dog diarrhea."

I returned home, and started in on laundry and tidying. I made my bed, put an Australian-washed-blue-clay mask on my face and was just switching over a load of wet stuff from the washer to the dryer in the basement when the doorbell rang. It was the dehuey repairman from Sears, come to fix our dehumidifyer (because clearly, when it has not worked all summer, you should fix it in the fall for the winter). I heard the dogs bark. I heard Shawn let the man in. And then I heard them coming downstairs to where I was heedlessly doing laundry, pre-shower me in my hoodie, pajama pants and Austalian-washed-blue-clay mask.

Before they got around the bend in the stairs, I ran over to the area of the basement where Jonathan sleeps, where they would not need to go, and quickly worked on making up the futon he sleeps on, straightening Jon's comforter, which allowed me to have my back to the intruding handy man. As soon as they passed me and focused on the dehuey, I sprinted up the stairs, all the way to my bedroom (and I know that "heart in her throat" is more literal than figurative, when you are talking about how it feels... sort of the way "underfoot" and "at your elbow" are also literal, not figurative expressions, and I remember being a young mother and discovering this).

Safe in my bedroom, I took a nice, private shower and cleaned the mud off my face. After dressing and drying my hair, I screwed up my courage and took the next load of laundry down to the basement... where I found an empty space where the dehuey usually sits, and no repairman. They were gone; he had taken it to his shop to do some sautering.

So that was a second moment of relief in a strange morning, but life has been fairly normal since then.


Anonymous said...

I have loved reading many of your blogs....would like to meet your husband and kids....greet your parents for me....we use Mae Rainbow's cranberry salad recipe (in her own handwriting)every year (since 1975) for our annual Askren holiday dinner. Your John Buyse tribute is amazing...thank you... BUT the Wednesday morning entry causes me to see how very real you are and candid.
Hoping you will have some better nights and brighter mornings.
Love, Pauline

Ruth said...

Mrs. Askren,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and leave comments. It means more to me than I could explain. Did you read this intry: ? You could copy and paste it to your search bar if you are interested. it is one I think you might enjoy. Thank you again for commenting. It is beyond wonderful to connect with precious people and memories from the past.

Ruth said...

(I meant "entry" -- always have had a problem with right and left, which makes for some interesting typos.)