18 February 2011

The Furnace and I: We Are Exhausted

I  feel like I've been beaten up. I just rolled out of the snuggling bed, and every part of me hurts. I must have been clenching all my muscles while I slept. Oh, yes, I fall into a fast, fitful sleep every time I snuggle with Four and Five. I am tired by nightfall, and they are so warm and cozy; it's nearly impossible to stay awake. Tonight, I was also emotionally exhausted.

The day began, eventfully, with a leaking furnace boiler. The Captain was lucky enough to get the last warm shower of the day. Three was the one that alerted me to the hot water deficit. He got a cool shower. Two had to content himself with microwaved water to wash his hair, and the rest of us just stayed grimy.

I tromped downstairs to the furnace room, noticed the circulating pump leaking, tried to reset the damn thing anyway, and then called the oil company. We have a service contract with them, and we use it liberally, especially in winter. Every house we've owned has had an ancient boiler, and those contracts have been worth their weight in gold. The technicians will come out any time, day or night, and fix it.

I called at 6:30 a.m., was given an appointment slot between nine and  noon, and the tech arrived at 12:15. He finished at 4:00. It was an epic service call, and it left all of us a little drained. After he left, I had to hurry Three through his homework, get his uniform and Gatorade ready for his 6 PM basketball game, and prep Four and Five for Tae Kwon Do.  While they were at their lesson, I ran through the grocery store, and picked up a pizza for dinner. We all went home, Two unloaded the groceries while I threw food on plates, and then I ran out to catch the last half of Three's game.

Then the real drama unfolded. Three's team was losing, badly, in the third quarter. He was on the bench. The fourth quarter began, and he did not go in to play. I saw him throw his hands up at his coach/father, and sulk in his chair. The next think I knew he was walking toward the door, hand on his nose, blood running down his arm. He can be prone to nosebleeds. I met him in the hall, and dug for tissues. Pinching, pinching, blood running through his fingers, and all he can say is, "Now, I'm not going to be able to play."  Obviously. We cleaned him up in record time, got back in the gym, but he didn't get substituted in to play. So, he stormed out, biting back the tears. Mind you, the game clock was still running. It was a very poor decision on his part.

I followed, and he threatened to walk home, because it was Dad's fault he wasn't playing. We have previously discussed Three's ability to distribute blame around his perimeter, so I took his statement with a grain of salt. I offered to drive him home, and when the Captain finally appeared, he said he was going out for a burger and a beer. It was a wise decision on his part. They needed some distance between them. Details about Three's game behavior emerged as the night went on, and the Captain was right to bench him. When he got back from the bar, he was more sad than mad. Three has made great strides since The Year of Living Anxiously, but every so often, that irrational side of him shows its ugly face, and it's just disheartening.

Three hid from his father for the rest of the night. He called his other coach to apologize, who forgave him, and told him to focus on the next game. When I finally rolled out of the little boy room, the Captain had gone to bed, and Three was downstairs, unconscious on the couch. It was a tiring night for us all. I woke him, and got him to his room. 

"Where's Dad?"
"Asleep, honey."
"I didn't get to apologize."
"Tell him in the morning."
"I won't see him."
"Then text him. He'll get it first thing, when he wakes up."
"Alright. Goodnight, Mom. I love you."
"I love you, too, dear."

I do love him. All of them. Wholly; deeply; without question. I just wish, sometimes, my heart had a service contract.

Now, a poem, about when it was easier.

Love Explained
by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Guy calls the doctor, says the wife’s   
contractions are five minutes apart.   
Doctor says, Is this her first child?
guy says, No, it’s her husband.

I promise to try to remember who
I am. Wife gets up on one elbow,

says, I wanted to get married.
It seemed a fulfillment of some

several things, a thing to be done.
Even the diamond ring was some

thing like a quest, a thing they
set you out to get and how insane

the quest is; how you have to turn
it every way before you can even

think to seek it; this metaphysical
refraining is in fact the quest. Who’d

have guessed? She sighs, I like
the predictability of two, I like

my pleasures fully expected,
when the expectation of them

grows patterned in its steady
surprise. I’ve got my sweet

and tumble pat. Here on earth,
I like to count upon a thing

like that. Thus explained
the woman in contractions

to her lover holding on
the telephone for the doctor

to recover from this strange
conversational turn. You say

you’re whom? It is a pleasure
to meet you. She rolls her

eyes, but he’d once asked her
Am I your first lover? and she’d   
said, Could be. Your face looks
familiar. It’s the same type of

generative error. The grammar
of the spoken word will flip, let alone

the written, until something new is
in us, and in our conversation.


  1. Anonymous18.2.11

    Holy crap, those can be some long-ass days indeed. Service contracts are the silver lining, because tomorrow, when you have to get up and do it all again, there will be hot water.
    Mom-to-mom hugs and Been-There-Survived-That support, from me to you.
    (now I have to go look at the new link)

  2. Julie: Thanks for the hugs. You've read everything on the other link. It was just a way for me to collect all of Five's complaints, and the sidebar lyrics. If you are a new reader, and visit the previous posts, they all have today's Failure. It's the way the gadgets are set up. So, one would find me very unoriginal in my music, and Luke oddly fixated on one complaint. And we can't have that! Hence, a whole other blog, just for archiving.

  3. Just LOVE the phrase : I wish my heart had a service contract! Hit me good honey!

  4. I hope your today is better than your yesterday. Love you xoxo

  5. And I wish I had a heart contract too because now mine hurts from my love for you (and the Captain and One, Two, Three, Four and Five). Today will be better. You are an amazing woman and mother.

  6. Ugh. *Hugs* from me, too. What a crazy day.

    I love the poem, too. The complexities are beautiful.

  7. Okay, I had to read the first stanza twice before I got the joke. I like it.

    -Sigh- Coaching your son, or being coached by your father, is joy and grief all wrapped up in a high testosterone package. To top it off, it comes with a built-in audience. Young men learn how to use aggression and conflict by practicing on their fathers. I think good fathers, which the Captain unquestionably is, learn new models of conflict resolution because it is illegal to have a fist fight with a 13-year old. Here's hoping that the next game goes more smoothly.

  8. FGBVs for you and yours.


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.