Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's all in the routine

One of the most difficult things about getting your child through a significant surgery, or even a cardiac catheter-a procedure that requires just one night in the hospital-is trying to get the family Back On Track afterwards.

Tuesday morning Luna underwent her catheter. In the doctor’s words, “she looks as great on the inside as she does on the outside”.

Luna and I were at the hospital exactly twenty-five hours. This is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Yet somehow a mere twenty-five hours in the hospital can pull you under and whip you around in the rip tide of domestic upheaval; leaving you gasping for breath trying to keep up with the laundry and dishes that seemed to accumulate, somehow even in the family’s absence. Thursday morning I woke-up in my own bed; grateful and full of fresh perspective once again. As I took in my first cup of coffee, I scanned the house which seemed to glare at me back, resentful that I had left it in such an unruly state. From there the anxiety seeped in.

Since giving birth to Luna I’ve had dozens of conversations with other mothers, many of whom have endured some hardship themselves; a loss of a baby, a sibling, a pregnancy, or God forbid, two or three pregnancies, giving birth to chronically ill or still born babies. The pain and the loss is everywhere. And strangely, or not so strangely perhaps, once one endures a Difficult Thing of some kind, one seems to draw in other people who have too.

“I’ve lost a lot of people in my life”, a colleague said to me recently over a mid-afternoon business lunch.

I’ve noticed each of these survivors, all women in this case (perhaps simply because men just don’t talk like this), keep sane with strict domestic regimens.

One such woman lost a baby at three days old-on Luna’s birthday-on the cardiac floor at Children’s Hospital Boston (my mother’s coy smile immediately comes to mind here, “there’s no such thing as coincidence”, a statement I heard over and over growing-up).

In the morning when I would drop-off Luna in the room where she worked, she and I would compare home regimens.

“It can be 4 am, if someone get’s up, their bed is made right there and then.”

Her statement looped through my mind for weeks after, somehow bringing me satisfaction each time. “This is how we do it”, I thought to myself.

Another mother and I were commiserating over how when our husbands hang around the house, as is the case now with the newly minted Out of Work Architect, they crimp our style. While swapping survival tactics in the school parking lot, she confided in me,“I line dry all of my clothes, but I can’t have a single article of clothing hanging on the drying rack when we go to bed at night.” I nodded in agreement. I understood, completely.

These women all brought me comfort with their domestic must-dos. It’s how we cope. When the Architect washes dishes (inexplicable to begin with, we do indeed have a working dishwasher), without putting the pile of clean dishes away that he’s stacked like precarious Legos on the counter, it feels like nails being run down a chalk board. But after collecting other stories of Regime and Order from mothers, I felt better about my own frustration.

Perhaps now it won't sound so strange that the first thought upon rising in my own bed after Luna’s twenty-five hour stint in the hospital was, “how can I put this house back together?”


Jen Freligh said...

My theory has always been that it's a mother's way of maintaining a teeny sense of control in our world that has precious little going on that we can actually control. :)

likeschocolate said...

What a great story! I think I have to admit that was how I survived the time period before and after the surgery was putting one foot in front of another and housework.

Katie said...

Hi there! Finally getting a moment to say hello and thanks for the comment on our blog :) I'll have to read your blog and catch up on Luna. She's adorable...glad her cath went well. We have one in 2 weeks with Maddie. I enjoyed this post :) Thanks for sharing. Take care!
Katie (Maddie's mom, HRHS)