Friday, September 8, 2017

I Had The Glide of My Life: Gratitude for a Chair and All It Brought

Of all the overwhelming and seemingly impossible decisions I faced as parenthood approached for the first time (breast vs. bottle? Co-sleep or cry it out? Return to work or stay at home?), one was a no-brainer: I knew I wanted a glider chair for the nursery.

Not a traditional rocking chair that could trap chubby baby fingers or an unsuspecting cat's tail under its weight, but a smooth, padded, back and forth glider- the kind advertised to bring comfort to both baby and mother.

After turning my investigative reporter's mind to the various makes and models, our selected glider was delivered, assembled, and installed in our spare bedroom, which was still transitioning to nursery status. It stood there in the midst of unopened boxes and piles of packages, gentle and welcoming, and I couldn't resist its draw.

I eased my pregnant self down into the chair and began to glide. I closed my eyes and let it carry me where it would. Back and forth. Childhood to motherhood. Dreams to reality. Back and forth. Hopes and fears. Back and forth.

In the evenings when I returned from work, I'd sit in the glider and watch my husband as he patiently put together the stuff of parenthood- the crib, the changing table, the white wooden toy box under the window. I'd move back and forth as he worked, watching the man I fell in love with glide into fatherhood before my eyes.

When baby finally arrived, the glider was our first stop upon entering the house. I settled in cautiously, worried there wouldn't be room for both of us, but its arms seemed to magically expand to cradle us both.

Back and forth, that baby and I glided through sleepless, colicky nights. With the warm weight of his body on my chest, we glided through through insecurities and imperfections, rocked our way past hurts and scars. As we'd settle into our nightly rhythm and glide back and forth, I felt old wounds close, seemingly soothed and healed by the motion. No matter how much I wanted to stay back, the glider always lead me forward, staying on track, so sure of its path, despite my own lack of direction.

Science says the feeling of love comes from a chemical reaction in the brain. I can only assume that process is accelerated by a gentle glide, back and forth, in a cozy, padded chair.

Eventually, I rocked another baby in the glider. And then another. And then eventually, the glider went where all the soft, fuzzy pieces of babyhood go when the babies are babies no more: into storage. As our lives- now filled with sturdy student desk chairs and angular folding benches- moved forward, the cozy, padded glider tucked in the basement closet, its arms now holding plastic bins of toy trucks and trains, a concrete reminder of what was packed away.

There would be no more gliding into the wee hours of the night with a baby's warm, milky breath perfuming the room. No more midnight, moonlit lullabies. No more back. Only forth. So much ahead, and yet so much left behind.

Last week, we brought the glider up from the basement, loaded it into the back of my car, and drove it  to my parents' house, where it would soon meet its new owner- a radiant, expectant new mother, who in a full-circle twist, helps care for my father.

We unloaded it and dusted it off, and as the kids scampered off to play, right there in the middle of my parents' garage, I sat down for one last glide.

I pushed back, closed my eyes, and tried with all my might to imprint the chair's gentle rhythm on my soul.

As I finally got up and began to walk back to my family, I looked over my shoulder and noticed that my momentum had kept the glider moving back and forth.

I like to think it was the chair's way of saying that it was time for me to stand and let someone else take a seat.

And that the glide will always go on.