Funny how life can deceive. Things appear to be going well but underneath, something insiduous is building. I was contemplating this after watching Ann Voskamp’s DVD relating how a homeless man approached a youth group wearing a mask. He lived on the fringe of society and as the children approached; he tore off the mask, literally, revealing how underneath it all he felt unworthy; sinful. As they passed to enter into a Toronto mission he quoted Romans 7:14-25. Although he looked unkempt he quoted scripture from the depths of his heart. We all wear masks; the imagery staying with me.
Each night as I close the blinds upstairs, I pause at the round window in Charlie’s room. When the boys were younger I loved to pretend it was a portal into someone’s life as I would look down upon my neighborhood; the cookie cutter houses with their lights reflecting through their windows. I would imagine my neighbors winding down after a busy day, perhaps they were having dinner or doing extra work before they went to bed. In upstairs windows I thought of the older kids talking/texting on phones, watching their wall-mounted HDTV’s, playing video games or working on laptops. I longed for that in my household. In the first years of living in our current home, Dave was deployed 2.5 of the 3 years we lived here. As a young mom I was isolated, with three young boys, and so I would imagine what other families were doing as I tucked my three babies in their beds. Rare that I ever left my home; but to go grocery shopping and drop a child to preschool. The employees in my local grocery store know me by name; I walked through their aisles every day, lonely.
I am glad for this constant reminder. I still look out of the round window wondering what happens in the houses surrounding me. But I no longer am isolated and I have a home that echoes with shrieks of laughter, incessant noises of videos/movies and music. Cat bells can be heard darting to and fro on my upstairs hallway and the loud, high-pitched bark of our dog accents the constant thrum of noise. I find myself craving the quiet to hear my own thoughts.
I recently was sitting with a friend in her home, noting how much quieter her house is to mine. It is a beautiful home, filled with beautiful things; my friend the perfect hostess. As we sat together I commented on the quiet and as the hours flew by I sat in shocked silence as the tears streamed from her face; relaying the harsh reality of her life. Her mask was off. Sometimes the one person, you think, that has it all together, is really just holding on. The silence was suffocating and all I could do was listen as the words fell from her lips. My heart was heavy. Life can be so cruel. When I came home to the backpacks on the floor, the happily barking dog daring me to chase him and my very loud, messy home; I cried. I gave thanks. I called to Dave and he knew to give me a hug; not quite understanding why he had a wife crying in the middle of our messy kitchen. And as I heard the lub-dub of his heartbeat I knew wherever he was, would be where I’d always call home.
It wasn’t always that way. I am a fairly independent creature and though his constant deployments were tough; as an only child I was accustomed to being alone. I was able to set our schedule and have the freedom to do what I needed to do with my sons. I have gone through many difficult transitions in my life and have learned strategies of coping. They are not always good; but they got me through. I was confident in my ability to be without a husband for long periods of time; looking dispassionately at those who could not function without a maid, personal trainer, chef or nanny. It was nice to see the hubby, when he was home, but I longed for my space and rituals when he deployed again. We had love and both of us were faithful; unlike a lot of our military comrades.
I gazed at my girlfriend and knew that, whatever life threw at her, she would be okay. She is resilient. And I am honored that she felt comfortable in sharing her personal thoughts , especially since she is a new friend. Sometimes it is easier to share with someone who doesn’t know the intricacies of your life. One who knows too much, most times, becomes the worst judge. They cast stones. It is a gift, to learn to be non-judgmental; one that I have not learned. But I am trying….“the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.”
PhotoShop and Inkscape are my friends this morning as I convert drawings to digital images. This weekend the house will remain a mess as I continue to meet my deadline. Spring definitely has sprung and we have parties galore. I thought the birthday madness was February but it has remained in March, as well. There are four birthdays within bookclub, alone, all in the same week. I just discovered, on Thursday, that my middle son is to be dressed as Thomas Jefferson by this Tuesday. My eldest has had a slew of activities with middle school and a concert this week, the hubs is playing a Roman soldier in our local church’s Passion of the Christ re-enactment this coming Friday, GASP! (I still need to do Easter baskets?) on the same day he’s supposed to assist with the school track team and my deadline to turn in our digital yearbook is Thursday. My youngest son’s schedule is all clear but this past week I joined his second grade class on a field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Talk about helicopter moms…. in his class of 33 kids; 28 parents came. And who knew I got carsick? My middle son’s class is the same. Last year out of 33 kids who paid money to fly/tour Sacramento for California history, there were only four parents who did not go; I being one of them. And I just realized, I need to find a 50th birthday present before we head to a party this afternoon! ARGH! And we have another milestone birthday the following weekend.
My house still sleeps (they were up until the wee hours this morning) so I am enjoying the quiet, my mask off; temporarily.