Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rock of ages

These days, we have a little visitor who stays with me during school hours, while her mommy re-enters the work force after an all-to-brief maternity leave. I have determined that if I cannot have more children of my own, I really need to get my hands on some sweet smelling babies from time to time. Caring for babies grounds me, and centers me - and reminds me of just how hard it is to have a new baby. It's hard. The sleep deprivation, the long hours spent soothing and rocking and feeding. But oh, the rewards are many. There is a lot of cooing and gurgling and wiggling - she's just about 2 months old, and with all of the cuddling going on around here I am getting a lot of use out of these:

That first rocker there, with the striped seat? That is the rocker my parents bought before I was born. They bought it in the early 70's, off of the front porch of an old farmhouse in rural Connecticut, probably on some sunny fall afternoon during a long drive along country roads. I have no idea what the seat looked like when they bought it - my mother recovered it in a gorgeous blue velvety corduroy. I still have the corduroy stapled underneath to keep the stuffing in, and the geckos out. This is Hawaii after all.

The second chair is one I bought when we were trying to have a second child. It wasn't going well, and I needed some encouragement. This chair was a talisman. I was going to have a baby, and I was going to rock the baby to sleep in that chair.


This chair is also an antique, brought to Maui by a man who buys and refurbishes antique wood furniture. He had found this at an auction in another old farmhouse on the East Coast. I was driving along a country road one day on my way home, and I saw it in his front yard. Apparently, you have to buy antique rockers form people's front yards. It's just How It's Done. Within 24 hours, this chair was recovered and sitting in the nursery. We brought our daughter home about 7 months later.

While they are very different in appearance, the basic design of these rockers is the same. Solid wood, metal springs in the seat covered with batting. High backed, with wide deep seats. The arms are about the same height - which is to say, perfect. Even a hundred years (or more) after they were built, these chairs are still going strong. The chair my mother gave to me has teeth marks from one of our puppies on the ends of the rockers. On both, the armrests are worn, the stain faded where countless arms have rested, with dirt and dust and sweat and salt from hard work, warm weather, long days and longer nights. These chairs have held tired farmers and weary mothers, newborns and old timers.

These chairs have history.

Strangely enough, when I was pregnant with my son, and I had the gorgeous rocker from my mom, I still went out and bought a glider and ottoman from Babies R Us - hideous, denim cushions and plywood painted white. No history. No detail. Not built to last - built to last a few months. Just like every other damn thing I bought there because it was supposed to be new and better, I was disappointed. Oh, the siren song of consumerism. I have learned through parenthood and through various life experiences that new is not necessarily better. I look at website after website of Cool! New! Stuff! to buy and to have and to want and I almost believe that I need it. But then, the New Englander in me gets a grip. I don't need. And I don't want. Our furniture is almost all old, wood, solid and true. Because it fits, and it lasts, and as I rock slowly on the porch or in my living room, I feel like every mother who has ever sat in that chair before me is with me still, encouraging me, holding me up, soothing my aching heart.

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