Oldest child was coming home from college, so I made up her bed. She sleeps in the downstairs study now, which she tries to make me feel guilty about. But since her father and I slept in that study for seven years (seven years!), only recently reclaiming the master bedroom, she’s not completely successful. She’s partly successful–mother-guilt is a deep well. I smoothed on a white puffy mattress pad, hooking the elastic bands around corners, and I thought of what a familiar and comforting household task this was. All’s right with the world in a house with mattress pads.
All is not right with the world. Still, housekeeping is comforting. Having mattress pads for the beds harks back to serious mid-century housekeeping, with linen tablecloths, swathed in plastic, hung in closets. Everyday china and good china. Spring cleaning. Aprons and feather dusters, and children shooed out to the backyard to play. In the posture of bending over to smooth the bedding, I reenact the motions of women from decades and centuries past. Sometimes it feels like enough to inhabit these postures, to occupy the form. Yesterday in yoga class I had the sensation of being anonymous, of being one of the numberless human beings to occupy eagle pose. I drop pillows into cases, turn on the reading lamp, lay winter sweaters in drawers. Maybe the room will be cold–I fold an extra quilt at the foot of the bed.
Last weekend, at youngest child’s first wrestling tournament, as the pairs grappled and threw each down, I thought of the eternal forms and posures of wrestling. (In fact, the Greco-Roman style of wrestling took form circa 1848 in France, but basic wrestling is surely archetypal.) All you want is not to be pressed completely against the ground. You raise up any part of your body off the mat that you can–head, foot, elbow–to avoid being pinned. As youngest child realized after the second match he lost, ‘You have to squirm.’ Wrestling is at ground level, everyone down on the mat yelling. Novice parents are having an out-of-body experience, watching their child get attacked. The ref is on his belly, the coaches are on their hands and knees. They are screaming at the wrestlers. Get up, roll over, rise up. It seemed like such a brave human desire, not to be crushed flat.