The Rocking Chair

The Rocking Chair

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

The Rocking Chair

It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf

Walter Lippmann

A recent, bestselling, self-help book asked, “Think about a time when you felt peaceful and relaxed. Where were you? What were you doing?”

As the mother of two energetic children under the age of five, my knee-jerk response was, “Does the nanosecond between falling into bed and my head hitting the pillow in a dead sleep count?” Later, while rocking my toddler to sleep, I pondered the question again. I couldn’t remember a time since becoming an adult (and especially a mother) when I felt totally at ease, peaceful, and relaxed. This was disturbing. Was I always in overdrive, running at full speed, but going nowhere?

Probably the closest I ever got to this state was the occasional evening. The dishes were done. Everything was prepped for the next day. I didn’t have lesson plans, bills, or other pressing projects to do. My preschooler, Katie, was tucked snugly into bed. My husband, Toshi, was in the garage playing his guitar. I sat in the dark of my toddler Andy’s room, my feet propped up on the ottoman, rocking him to sleep.

Andy snuggled up to me, pulling my head down with his chubby little hand until we were cheek-to-head. The house was dark and totally quiet. My mind gradually slowed down to the pace of our gentle rocking. Sometimes I mentally planned the next day and occasionally even contemplated deep thoughts. Many times, I was one-step above dozing. Sometimes I even dipped into dreamland.

I sang there: “Edelweiss,” “Hush Little Baby,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” I prayed there: “The Lord’s Prayer” plus my own. I whispered quietly there: telling Andy how much I loved him even though he didn’t get as much individual attention as I would have liked. I apologized there: telling Katie how sorry I was for being grumpy and promising to be more patient tomorrow. We discussed tomorrow’s events. How Granny would come visit soon. How blessed I was that they were mine.

The rocking chair hasn’t always been a positive place. I’ve fumed there after losing an argument and felt resentful there after a teething baby screamed all night. I’ve cried there and felt hopeless and overwhelmed there. I have even felt impatient and tied down there. However, these were exceptions, not the norm.

Mostly the chair represents a place where I nourished my children’s hearts, minds, and souls. Besides lots of nursing, I rocked a feverish Katie to sleep there and held a chronically congested Andy upright for hours there. I’ve inspired a love of books in our children by reading stories in our special chair. Even when my belly bulged out with Andy and my lap space grew smaller, Katie crowded on anyway for a story before her afternoon nap. She giggled, as Andy would try to kick her off my lap from in utero.

Last fall we moved to Arizona. It was time to move Andy into a “big boy” bed and room. We didn’t need the rocking chair anymore. Toshi suggested selling it, but I couldn’t get rid of it. In the whirlwind of activity related to starting a new life 2,500 miles away from friends and family, I needed a touchstone of tranquility. Somewhere I could sit in the dark and rock with my favorite blankie around my shoulders, somewhere I could sing softly to myself, read, and pray, and somewhere I could nurture my own heart, mind, and soul.

Yes, it clashes with my bedroom décor. It has spit-up stains on it, and I stub my toe on it every time I make my bed. Yet, I can’t get rid of it. I plan to keep the rocking chair long after my babies are grown. It will always represent the nourishing of my children and hopefully, of myself, too.

Sara Francis-Fujimura

More stories from our partners