Susan's Blog

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Laundry Day

Today is Sunday, another cool gray day.  A New England day, a Boston day, where you can smell the ocean or at least the harbor.  A bleach scent — (ammonia somehow?) lies beneath the gray.  A white sky, a level brighter where the sun might be, but still no shadows, no depth.  In New England, you can get a day like this any time of the year and it will feel the same:  neither winter, nor fall, spring or summer-like.

And yet this is not an unhappy day.  I am going around, straightening, fluffing, washing.  It is a day for detergent, bleach, dryers, cloth.  Ned is napping under layers of pillows to block out our noise, a trick he learned from the days of the babies.  And the boys?  All three, upstairs in Max’s room.  Max is at his desk, Ben is playing Dante’s Inferno on the PS3, and Nat is lying on Max’s bed.

Max’s room makes the most sense for the three different boy branches to converge.  His is the only room with a wall-to-wall carpet; he insisted on keeping it when we first moved in, my creature of comfort.  Max has always known how to be comfortable, physically and spiritually.  As a baby he had layers of beautiful fat, he was all chub and chunk, round and pleasing.  And pleased.  Every word he spoke had an exclamation point after it.  His eyes had smiles at the corners.  And as he grew up, and shed the outer baby fat, he went tall, an easy height hovering over most other people, so that he could be above the fray, and choose his interactions.  His bed is covered with a never-washed down comforter, bought 27 years ago for Ned’s and my first bed.  I think the hay-like breath that it exhales is utterly relaxing in its old familiarity.

That’s why Nat’s there — I think.  His head on Max’s pillow, perhaps conjuring up the earliest days of his memory, sharing a stroller with his baby brother, almost twins.  When you show Nat baby pictures of Max, he says they are Ben, because to him Max was never a baby, always a peer.

And Ben sits up, focused, sharp, interacting with Dante’s imagination, or at least some software company’s version of Dante’s vision.  Ben’s huge brown eyes slide to me, when I walk in there, interested but wary.  Why is Mom here?  But he finds me interesting, still, only newly 13 and more boy than teenager.  His hands and feet are large but his face is still small, except for his eyes and brows.  He is always thinking, his mind jumps and leaps concepts and centuries, easily but always with the tiniest edge of misapprehension.  Or is it simply his own angle?

I’m here because I want to know if Max needs his comforter washed.  My arms and my head have been full of white sheets to be washed.  I don’t know, it just occurred to me that the comforter is so old and just the perfect haven for dust mites.  I have to wash mine regularly because of the recent arrival of allergies.  Does he need that?  As always, my motherhood concerns and insights occur to me not when I want them to, but in these flashes of intuition, sudden bursts of sunlight that flash temproarily outside of my own cave.

As Max rolls the question of the comforter around in his mind, tasting it like a fine wine or at least his favorite pizza, Nat answers for him:  “Mommy will go away.”

“No, I guess it’s okay,” echoes Max.

“Mommy will go away,” Nat repeats, speaking for all of them.  So I leave, on my own white cloud of laundry, so happy with the brothers.


I have loved your last two posts – just little snapshots of your life with pure joy from being a family.

— added by Suzette on Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm

“Mommy go away”…. Mine has learned that phrase as well. He’s been using it at school for the Teacher’s when they watch over his shoulder and she was very excited last week he finally said it to the other children when they steal his toys. He uses correct names, not just Mommy.

He told everyone they were ok and enjoying themselves. Sounds like a perfect afternoon.

— added by farmwifetwo on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

My boys don’t interact that often, but when they do, it takes my breath away (and I always try to capture it on film). Thanks for sharing your family portrait!

— added by kim mccafferty on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 9:24 am

Nice post Susan. I love that Ben and Nat are able to hang together these days. I can totally imagine the smell of the comforter and the three boys just chillin’, doing their own things.

Jared sends me off from his dads’ on Sunday evenings with instructions to go home to be with Buddy the cat, whom he adores/tortures. Sometimes Buddy really looks like he could use a cocktail on Sunday evenings. That’s when I break out the catnip treats. Lisa

— added by lisa on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

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