Tabula rasa

Clean Slate
Clean Slate (Photo credit: Atomische • Tom Giebel)

“Dad, you’re taking too much.”

So said my eight-year-old as he watched my ex and his friends move furniture out of what used to be our house. Now, it’s my house—many dollars and sleepless nights later.

My ex did not respond. I reassured my son that our new furniture was on order—it would just be a couple of months before it arrived. I was trying to avoid the empty family room effect but finances, schedules and life in general slowed me down.

My son’s words resonated on so many levels.

The sectional sofa. Remember when we picked that one out? You and I had a rare day alone to shop. We went out to lunch and caught a movie. Remember all the family snuggles and sick kids watching TV on this sofa?

You’re taking too much.

The big-screen TV. You were so proud when this one arrived. The myriad Super Bowls with the kids in their jerseys, family movie nights and Thomas the Tank Engine until we thought we’d have the theme song emblazoned on our brains forever.

You’re taking too much.

The painting supplies. Days upon days scraping wallpaper off of the walls of our starter house, which turned out to be our 14-year house. We laughed and had margaritas on the floor—and it made the scraping seem not so awful.

You’re taking too much.

Add in the train that chugged around our Christmas tree each year and other assorted items, and you have many happy memories. I think my son was talking not just about furniture here, whether he knew it or not.

I realize, as I watch my ex pack up the truck, that what I miss are memories. I do not miss the flesh-and-blood real man standing before me. I miss something that was lost long ago.

But damn it. My kids are the unintended targets. How do I make up for it all?

Last night, my little guy snuggled up with me on the floor as I watched the Red Carpet parade at the Academy Awards. His new dog lay next to us, nuzzling him. Fresh-baked turnovers were in the oven. It was home, despite the somewhat bare room.

“I love you, Mom,” he said.

“Love you too, Bean.”

“When we will we have furniture again, Mom?”

“In about two months.”

As I anxiously scanned his face to see if he was ok, his eyes lit up. “This would be an awfully good place to set up the slot car raceway,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of room.” Shit. His father took that.

“How about finding the largest chessboard ever made and having a life-size chess game?” I ventured.

He pondered. “I’ll have to get back to you on that one, Mom. When a room is this blank, there are so many directions you could go. I need some time to think about it.  ”

Don’t we all, buddy. Don’t we all. But I promise you this. Some things cannot be taken. And those that have been taken no longer hold power over you. That I know.

All hail the tabula rasa. So many directions we can go.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Dale says:

    You’re taking too much… out of the mouths of babes…
    You’re giving us space to recreate… 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      It was definitely a time that shaped me. Wouldn’t go back to it for anything, though.

  2. Kim says:

    This totally captures the essence of what I try to explain to friends when I’m trying to describe divorce and my pain at the loss of the family (and what to do with those memories) not necessarily the loss of the man. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m glad it helped, Kim. Not an easy time but I feel myself becoming stronger in the broken places. I hope you are too!

  3. Haha! Smart kid. “When a room is this blank, there are so many directions you could go…” They surprise you with what comes out of their mouths, and they are pretty unintentionally intuitive.

    1. candidkay says:

      They’re smarter than we are, many times. LOL.

  4. Christine Elsen says:

    Kristine, you have such a way with words. Thanks for blessing us all with your thoughts and your writing. Wish we could come and hang out in the empty family room with you all!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Christine. We’d reserve you a pillow on the floor:)

  5. beadstork says:

    This one brought tears to my eyes. All hail the new furniture! And you can paint it all the colors your ex didn’t like.

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re right! The silver lining I didn’t see:)

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