There is a hole in my closet wall, in the very back behind the clothes I do not wear, my wedding dress, and the stacks of baby girl hand-me-downs. It is perfectly centered, perfectly round, the diameter of a certain very persistent woman’s finger. Behind the wall is a room tacked on by the original owners back in the 70s to make room for their blended family. You can get to it by spiral stair case next to the laundry room downstairs, or the stairs that climb up from the deck on the back of the house.
It is like a grand treehouse with plumbing and death traps for babies. Before I had so many children and my back exploded, this weird treehouse/attic wonderland was our school room. When Leona was little, I partitioned off a space for her until she was big enough to avoid plummeting to her death down the open stairwell without constant redirection, but three girls in this space proved too many, too loud, and almost impossible to access. In time, it has become something of a very high shelf from which we retrieve/hide things that cannot survive intact in the other spaces of our house.
Of course, school has marched along just fine without its precious room. If anything, it’s better, blended into our real world, mixed up on the table with the Lincoln Log village and covered wagon made of paper towels, twist ties, and an easter basket. Harriet toddles free, Leona runs in and out the back door, Beatrice breaks between math and history to check the flowers she planted in tiny pots along the edge of the deck. As long as I keep good books and good food stocked, and keep pencils out of the baby’s eyes, our homeschool seems to run itself. It is, shockingly, the easiest part of our day.
But we were talking about my closet. That hole in my closet will eventually be a door. A door through which only I will ever go, and that weird, oddly inaccessible treehouse room will be my studio. This is still in dream stage, if you don’t count the fact that a Phillips head screwdriver somehow managed to hammer its way through the drywall that one time. But I have faith. I am that kid digging a hole to China in the back yard. There is at least a tiny piece of him that knows this is not the way to get there, but he persists. He feels great satisfaction in persisting, day after day, digging the hole.
Yesterday, I was a overcome by this spirit of persistence. I found a bunch of empty storage tubs and threw them up the spiral staircase, took a deep breath and started digging. I sorted all our math materials, the sensory shelves, the language and phonics and handwriting…all of it. Down to the tiniest block of the pink tower. Sorted, labeled and ready for Leona’s kindergarten year in the fall and Harriet’s preschool years too far in the future for me to think about. I took down all the maps and nature posters, rolled them up not too tight since they’ll be re-homed downstairs as we need them. I rolled up the garish rug and leaned it in the corner. I cleared my desk of the thousands of drawings and pipe cleaners and crumpled leaves and pressed flowers and stickers and stamps and assorted glitter related items it had collected over the last year. Then I took another deep breath and tested my back. I pushed the stacks of tubs into their closet. I pushed an empty bookcase across the carpet. I nudged a chair from one corner to the other. And I was okay.
The room was empty, my back was fine, my heart was EXPLODING.
This is the second day in a row that I have noticed my body easing up, participating.
Part of this is a natural turning point in the healing process.
Part of this is me being less of a wuss.
Part of this is #powerrehab –pushing through my resistance and giving my body the things it needs to do its work.
I won’t drop the balloons and confetti just yet, but I woke up this morning thinking, “This is working. Tell them this is working.”