I’ve Gone to Pieces

It wasn’t intentional, the pun, I mean.  It just so happens that my new hobby developed right around the time when I was going through an emotional crisis.  Or the beginning of one, anyway.  Actually, it was the middle of one, but I wouldn’t discover that until much later.

 Sitting around the dinner table one night, as we did as a family every night, I had what some may call an epiphany.  We were dining on yet another lovingly prepared, carefully selected fresh menu.  We were chattering about the day’s events when suddenly I had the striking realization that my days as a full time mom were numbered. 

 Don’t misunderstand.  My son was in high school and my daughter was in middle school.  It’s just that like at every other time in my life, I was already projecting into the future, worrying, and fearing the worst.  I was already having symptoms of the empty nest syndrome, and nobody had even dragged out a dusty old suitcase yet.

 That weekend, I dove into my first “pieces” project.  I gathered photographs of my kids from birth through the most recent, and began work on my first collage, which would later morph into mosaics.  I worked feverishly and continually for over a week, carefully cutting and placing pictures from birthdays to baseball, from rafting to rites of passage, from bowling to Bar Mitzvahs, from cross-country to camp. 

 When the dust settled, or I should say, the fumes from the spraying of a glossy polymer finish, I had officially begun my descent into a chapter of my life that has forever changed me.  I sought solace for my emptiness in unhealthy ways.

 I had literally gone to pieces.

 A Mosaic Self-Portrait-- abstract, of course.

But, with the help of friends, a resilient and dedicated therapist, two amazing and forgiving children, and a loving and patient husband, I have emerged, reinvented, put-together, and the only thing that goes to pieces are my tiles and glass chards.  And they are supposed to!

One Door Closes

The bedroom doors on the south side of the house used to be open.  All the time. That’s the only way I could hear if they were crying, or awake and playing.  When they were in grade school, I could jump on their beds to wake them up, or plop on the floor to help with a project.

When they hit their teens, the doors closed. They wanted privacy. They didn’t want me or their Dad to interrupt them with their friends. They wanted to blast their music without being asked to turn it down. They were probably doing other things that I didn’t want to know about.

The doors remain closed now, except on the rare occasion when the dog pushes them open to find a comfortable, quiet place to sleep. And it’s quiet. There is no longer any music blasting. The sound of teenaged girls giggling is gone. The thumping and thudding of an occasional wrestling or weightlifting episode has died down.  The silence is clamorous.

When they first left, I kept the doors open. Often, I would walk in and inhale deeply, trying desperately to get a sense of their presence in a lingering aftershave or scented candle. I would walk by my son’s room almost expecting to see him sitting at the computer with his guitar on his lap, laboring over tabs for the latest song he was learning. But he wasn’t there.

Two steps further and I would be in front of my daughter’s bedroom door, forever adorned with pictures, quotes and flowers. That door now reminds me of just one more household project that my new best friend, my husband, and I can complete together. We have to remove the old, sticky tape, sand and paint it.  It’s barren.

Keeping the doors closed now is my way of separating myself from that chapter in my life when the machinery of parenting required so many more adjustments and tune-ups. Today, a little oil on the hinges and they swing open and closed for a quick visit, once in a while, and I go back to opening new doors on the north side of the house.