Monday, April 23, 2012
Rob and Celia are moving to the new house they will share with Celia’s mother. Celia has been put on bed rest for the remaining few weeks of her pregnancy.
Celia was not sure if she should kiss Rob or slug him for asking his mother June to come help with the move. Organized and efficient, she was indisputably useful, and as a longtime stay-at-home mother who was now a recent empty-nester (having sent her third and last child off to college), she welcomed the diversion.
They needed the help. But Celia’s mother Mary made stupid comments while Celia watched, doing what she could while reclining on the sofa.
“Celia, do you want June to carry out the clothes on the hangers?” Mary asked, right in front of June. “I thought you wanted everything taken off and folded.”
They had discussed no such thing. “No, Mom,” Celia answered while smiling at June, who waited for Celia to referee with an admirable neutrality. “It will be much faster to just lay them in the trunk of the car and re-hang them at the house.”
“I’ve moved all three of my kids out of the house in the last few years,” June said amiably. “I feel like a pro.”
“Well, I just moved out of the house I’ve lived in for thirty years,” Mary countered. “I’m feeling like a pro, too.”
Celia did not comment that her sister Catherine had handled most of that responsibility for their mother.
Rob walked back in at that moment to carry another load to the rented van, followed by his workmate Lucy’s boyfriend Rocco. “OK. Time to move the big stuff. Celia, should we move the sofa with you on or off it?” She was surprised that Rob, who was inclined to be moody and anal at a time like this, could joke. Celia was grateful for Rocco’s presence, and not just for his tangible support in helping Rob haul the big stuff. His calm personality helped neutralize Rob’s edginess.
“Rocco has been so helpful!” her mother Mary chimed in. “What would we do without you? Here, let me get you a cold drink.” She hurried off to the kitchen while June left with the pile of clothing.
“Why don’t I take your mother to the house in the van?” Rob said to Celia. “She can begin to get her own room unpacked. My mom can stay with you and you can begin to clean.”
Celia was not sure she had heard Rob right. “I can’t clean,” Celia said. “You know that. ‘Cleaning’ is one of the things I’m specifically not supposed to be doing right now.”
Celia was shocked when Rob looked at her in irritation, as if being on bed rest was her fault, or as if she was using it as an excuse to be lazy.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Celia said. “This isn’t up to me.”
How does Rob respond?