The Loaded Chair

There is a wooden rocking chair that has lived in my parents’ living room forever. I love this chair. Sure, I am a sucker for all rocking chairs (as opposed to hammocks that make me seasick) but this one has such a nostalgic pull. I enjoy tracing my finger along the curve of the arms and the carved design on the back. The chair would often get moved to the basement whenever more room was needed – large family parties, Christmas tree, etc. It makes me sad this (easily moved) much beloved chair always got the shaft and tossed aside. Also infuriating is every puppy my parents have ever failed to train had loves to chew on the tempting runners of my desired heirloom.

A couple years ago their living room got updated furniture with a new couch, end tables, and a new sewing machine cabinet. Knowing the rocking chair would get pushed aside once more, I made sure my parents knew that I loved that chair and would gladly take it. Dad laughed and called me shameless and Mom said they would figure configure it all somehow. She added I was welcome to take my giant upright piano over to my place anytime. (yeah, like where am I going to put that?)

Soon after I was at their house and the rocking chair was shoved in the basement, again. I joked that it was a good thing they were going on vacation soon so that when I house/dogsit for them I could use their car to rescue it and bring it to my house. Oh how my mom freaked out yelling that I better not. In a huff I was told the chair was purchased by my dad when my mom was pregnant with my older brother and I was NOT allowed to have it until I started producing some (much desired and hounded for) grandbabies. Well alrighty then. This stand-off continued and whenever I dared to bring up or sit in my favorite chair a guilt trip was not far behind.

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When it comes to marriage, my love life has been filled with numerous close calls. There is a line about bowling in the movie Uncle Buck and John Candy’s character jokes if the object was to get the ball as close to the pins without knocking them down the little girl would be the champion of the game. Some days that is exactly how I feel so many of my relationships have gone. This is not to dismiss the very valid reasons behind these relationships working out, errrr not working out, the way they have. Nobody likes a broken heart, but underneath the hurt and rejection I am thankful for those lessons learned and opportunities for better things ahead. As I crossed the threshold into my 30s with a string of failed, long-term relationships my parents seemed to take every opportunity to make more desperate pleas to make them grandparents. (We don’t care if they are born out of wedlock, it is not the end of the world if you are lazy about birth control, etc)

If I was 100% sure that I didn’t want children maybe I could brush off their jabbing with more grace and laughter. (or hell, even take delight in knowing they are not getting what they want and tell them to give up hope already.) Instead, the older I get the less sure I am either way about having kids. In my 20s I did not give much thought to the kids decision: I love kids, marriage was on the horizon, raising children simply seemed a natural path. In my 30s the idea of kids sure has taken on a far sketchier future. There are an awful lot of scary traits floating around in my genes and would it be a burden to carelessly pass those on? (Ahem, to say nothing about my abilities to actually be selfless enough to be a good parent or have a stable partnership for this endeavor.) All those fears aside, it is not completely off the table and there is a biological timeframe in play that cannot be ignored if having children is something desirable in my future. I am not one to have penis envy, but every once in a while having male parts sure seems like the easier half of the equation.

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Earlier this fall the grandchildren topic came up again in an offhand way. Despite the frequency with which it occurs, I happened to be caught off guard, perhaps further surprised this time by their (alcohol-fueled) double-down efforts and unified assault when I tried to protest. I turned into a hot mess of tears, crying that I was sorry to be such a disappointment and that their words made me feel like a failure. Often accused of being overly-sensitive, maybe this was the first time I ever truly got through to them how hurtful their remarks have been; that I don’t want my self-worth measured in this manner.

A peace offering was made Christmas morning. I got to my parents’ house for brunch and there in the middle of the living room floor was the rocking chair, freshly sanded and stained, with a giant red bow and no mention of their grandchildren expectations.

It's finally mine

It’s finally mine

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5 Comments

Filed under (I Like Parentheses), A Whole MONTH, All In The Family

5 responses to “The Loaded Chair

  1. Great first post of the month! And posted at 3:30 a.m.? Hard core.

    I think your parents and mine are kindred spirits. I, too, get the no-grandkids guilt trip all the time. (Because having kids when you’re not ready is such a great thing to do, right? Surely no consequences would arise from that?) So, yeah, I feel your pain. But I’m glad you got your rocking chair!

    • Parents are ridiculous. Hah, I was writing it on the couch last night and WP kept eating my drafts (I am sure it was WP and not beer related at all). I scheduled it to post hoping it would stay intact.

  2. Dude, way to score the chair in the end. Guilt trips about not having children suck coming from anyone, but especially from parents. Goddammit, people: CHILL OUT.

  3. RA

    I’m glad you ended up with the chair. I totally agree that it was a peace offering, and a good one at that. Sometimes families just don’t know when they’ve crossed the line.

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