By: Anne Marie Holloway
I sat with my head resting on my knees in one of my favorite quiet spots atop a handmade stool that my husband built over a decade ago. It was a gift designed for my oldest daughter so that she could reach the sink when she was first learning to brush her own teeth.
I sat there with my eyes closed and remembered how unsteady my daughter was on this stool and how nervous I was that she would slip and hurt herself. I could hear my husband’s reassuring words dancing in the crevices of my memory filled mind.
“She will be fine… She is ready… Don’t worry so much…”
Since then, this stool has been a mainstay in our house, used mainly by our shortest family members as they brush their teeth or wash their hands and regularly by me as I try to sneak a quiet, uninterrupted moment in search of some clarity among the peace that is found when a mother locks herself in the bathroom under the guise that she has to – well you know…
This stool that I rest upon quite a bit these days is made out of cherry. If you look at this shaker style piece of furniture carefully you can see that it is symmetrically adorned with brass nails. These nails were used to hold its construction steady and strong so that it would keep the little people that use it safe.
If you turn the stool over, you can see my husband’s loopy handwriting as it lovingly dedicates the stool to my oldest child… It was a labor of love created like it was just yesterday by a young sensible father‘s attempt to make the life of his sweet growing daughter just a little easier.
Anyways, it just so happens to be one of my favorite places to sit when I need to think. And at that moment I needed to do just that… Think.
While sitting, I replayed the conversation I had just had while on the phone with my younger sister. I thought about how my sister’s voice sounded as she excitedly requested my permission to surprise her goddaughter (my firstborn) with an amazing birthday gift. My stomach felt queasy as I heard the politely understanding disappointment of my younger sister’s sigh when I tried to deflect her attempts to reach out to me and my daughter..
Usually, things get better when I sit on my stool and think in quiet — But, not this time…
I broke out into a cold sweat as our conversation hung in the air like a bubble over my head. Her words, “I’d like to take Lily dog sledding for her birthday” — echoed in my ears. And then my knee jerk panicked response, “Oh.. Umm.. Can I call you back and let you know? We might have plans that day…”
Yes, I had plans… Plans not to have to come pick up my twelve year old (with her three siblings in tow) from the hospital in a body cast.. Plans not to visit my sweet, sweet head-injured child at Children’s hospital… Plans not to make the five o’clock news as search parties are called in to find the missing child who disappeared into the forest on a dog sled gone awry….
Yep, I had plans – perfectly prefabricated and totally irrational plans to wrap my precious tween in a bubble and interfere with her happiness for the rest of her life. And it would be a long life at that – as she would safely never be allowed to do anything or go anywhere… Those were my plans. Sadly, I knew they were lousy plans at best – but I was sticking to them!
Then there was a knock at the bathroom door, and the door opened a crack. I could see his familiar blue eyes fondly peering at me from behind his glasses. My husband entered our bathroom and with his outstretched hand he gently touched my shoulder.
“She will be fine… She is ready… Don’t worry so much.”
And so she was..
She had the best time of her little twelve-year-old life as she manned her own sled and shared the passion for this crazy winter pastime with my sister, her husband and their pack of pups..
I can’t wait until she goes on her first date, or asks me for the keys to the car or (gulp) leaves for college… And she is only the first of my four children to begin venturing out into uncharted snow covered trails. I better get planning; I have a lot of work ahead of me….
First off, I am going to purchase some tools- just in case I need to build a new bathroom stool.