Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I went into the city today for an afternoon and evening of appointments. This morning before I left, I suddenly realized I was experiencing free-floating anxiety, which, while unpleasant, did remind me of an old Roz Chast cartoon in the New Yorker from forever ago, entitled: "Little Beverly Playing Cards - Play 'Em! Collect 'Em! Trade 'Em!" The cartoon showed Little Beverly - yet another of Chast's odd little girls - in a series of prosaic tasks, until the last card showed Little Beverly standing still in the middle of nowhere with the caption, "Little Beverly experiences free-floating anxiety." Clearly, this cartoon struck a chord. So while I am never unhappy to be reminded of a Roz Chast cartoon, I wasn't thrilled about this anxiety especially since I don't have it very much, or if I do, I at least know what it is about. I ran through the list in my mind of possible options, but all is fine, until I was on the train going in, and realized that it was because I was leaving my children. Now, mind you, my children are fine. They love and adore my sister (who was babysitting) to the point where when I leave, it is not an issue at all. I know they are in great and capable hands. And for my end, I spend lots of time with them, happily so. But frankly, sometimes it just doesn't feel like enough. Especially in the summer. To be honest, the only thing I feel like doing lately is being in the park with them, playing in the sand, and caring about whose turn it is on the slide. I took the subway from Grand Central to the upper west side, and was walking up Columbus when I passed a woman pushing a double stroller - not a difficult sighting in that neighborhood. In the stroller were two little girls who looked about my sons' ages - 18 months and 4 and a half. Our eyes met, and I told her that my two were at home. We exchanged their ages, bonded on similar spacing, and then I said, "I wish I were with them now. I had a really hard time leaving them today." And we talked about just wanting to play with them as much as we can in this tiny, finite, little patch of a moment that we get with them at this age. Playing with them at home in our yard, or at the park, or on the couch which is suddenly a plane is such an amazing escape for me from all the other stuff that my mind is sure - and will tell me - is important and necessary. And on one hand, it is. But not more them. I have really just been wanting to play with them this summer, and am as much as I can. My youngest is 18 months and I adore that age. He thinks he is four, and keeps up with his older brother quite grandly, but his little body betray himself in very dear ways. His days are an opera of "no's." But they are sung so sweetly, they invoke laughter in me rather than upset. My oldest is all about going to the doctor now. He is constantly bandaging everyone in the house, and having his leg wrapped with this green safety tape that another one of my sisters gave him for his work sites. He always reminds me of a painting I used to look at when I was five in this book my momma had called, "Great Paintings of the World" of three Civil War soldiers hobbling home with their legs, arms, and heads wrapped with bandages. He is constantly coming up to me and say, "I need to tell you something by whispering." then he leans into my ear for the secret, which usually starts with him saying, "Are I....?" I will be heartbroken when that stops. Sorry for the smushiness about my children. I meant to write about other stuff, but ended up not.


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