Tag Archives: mothers

My Fault…

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I thought I could go back to bed and lie there for a bit without incident. So, technically, I suppose it was my fault. But I heard everyone helping each other get breakfast. It sounded peaceable.

So, forty glorious minutes later I walk out. The weather’s perfect. It’s sunny. Even the introvert in me is charmed.

“Let’s go to the park,” I say, “Shoes on.”

At this moment in the hallway the little guy passes me holding a spoonful of milky cereal in front of his belly and marching into his bedroom. Curious, I follow him. Then I watch as he stops, calculates, throws said cereal onto the carpet, touches one foot on top of it delicately as if to evaluate his success and turns, I’m assuming, in order to get more.

Well, I stop that nonsense and on the way to the kitchen with the spoon I notice several other arrangements of cereal on the floor and realize this is an installation piece, probably entitled “Scourge of My Mother”. There is also one very wet towel lying in a square on the floor.

“Hey guys? What’s with the wet towel? Did he have an accident?”

“No, Mom, he spilled a cup of milk,” said the eldest.

“He did it on purpose. And it was my milk,” said the girl.

Mixed media.

(There are many moments like this when I’m glad I don’t have a nice place. I can’t stand how my kids treat my two-bedroom rental. What on earth would I do if they treated my dream-house this way?!)

I proceed into the kitchen. And the baby has tried to make a smoothie.

Here is a picture of that baby:

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I sigh and scrap my plans for the park. I place the baby in the tub (the only place he will remain contained) and wipe counters, do dishes, unload dishwasher so I can load dishes, start laundry from last night’s pee debacle(another long story), scrub and baking soda a square of carpet, sweep the kitchen, vacuum and four hours later it’s nap time and I’m sucking down coffee and eating some Go Diego Go cereal. For some subliminal reason I wanted some.

The first baby, that’s not anyone’s fault. You’re naive; you’ve never had a baby. You don’t know. The second one, well, that’s not technically your fault either. You and your husband have seven siblings between you. Let’s blame family culture. But three, well- the third one’s on you. You asked for three. This is on you.

In Which my French Comes in Handy…

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My New Year’s resolutions tend to be rather random and specific.  A couple of years ago I resolved to replace every plain white pair of underwear in my drawer with a fun pair.  That drawer is now a veritable rainbow.  The year after that I resolved to not wear T-shirts anymore (and I mean the ratty ones) on a daily basis.  They would, henceforth, be relegated exclusively to bedtime wear.  This year I said a simple prayer sometime in early January,

“Lord, by the end of this year I’d like to have a friend who wears a hijab.”

I prayed it a few times over the course of the week.  Motherhood is isolating enough.  Add an urban setting, a language barrier, and such a visible testament to strong religious beliefs and I imagine it must be lonelier still.  I wanted to know these women underneath the scarves with whom I must share so much as a mother in the city.

And wouldn’t you know, today it happened.

I met a mother at the park.  I almost never go to this park anymore. I began asking about her daughter who was playing with my son in the sandbox.

“I’m sorry,” she said, stumbling through her English, “You don’t by any chance speak French?”

“Mais, oui!” I said.

And so began a long conversation with nervous laughter, patience, and a lot of hand movements as we moved between French and English, talked about our husbands, and about Ramadan starting next week and how hard it is to feed the kids and not eat yourself.

Halfway through this conversation in the middle of June I remembered my New Year’s prayer.  Of course, this begs the question, which came first, the prayer or the plan to bring this woman into my life?  Which prepared the way for which?

It turns out she lives directly across the street from me.  We chatted until dinnertime.  She kissed my cheeks and welcomed me into her home.  I welcomed her into mine and asked if she liked tea.  We will see each other again.

I’m so glad for random prayers, new friends, and three kids who were going so crazy this afternoon I had to get off my butt and take them to the park.  God even finds joy in using my crazy kids. What do you know?

A Letter to my Mommy on Mother’s Day…

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I dug out one of my favorite pictures of you today.

I keep it right in front of another one, the same size, of your mother. I grabbed both when I was there for her funeral, when we were looking through pictures, before they went back into a box. And I tucked them into her prayer book, which I also took. She is laughing as I never saw her do too much when I knew her. And the picture is slightly blurred, which lends itself to the idea that it was farther back in time, to become more blurry still, perhaps, the farther I continue to move away from her, from her smell of red wine, roses, and cigarettes.

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Your picture, however, is clear. Your shoulder is bare, halter top tied back around your neck, leaning into the sun over your guitar. You are young, only just a little younger than the young-you of my memory when love first burned your image into my brain. And your hair is dark brown as it always is in my mind.

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We share the same memory of this younger version of you. When someone refers to you as “blonde” we look at each other, sure that they were talking about you just a minute ago, but who is this blonde lady?

And I wanted to make sure that you knew today:

Do you know?

Do you know that I am as surprised as you are at your strange soft skin and the laugh lines around your eyes?

The passage of time is not more evident than when looking at my kids and at you, my Mommy. First images of love burn strong and deep. That is why my children are still babies at my breast. That is why I don’t notice my husband’s greying hair. And that is why when I come for a visit I am sometimes surprised to find you different.

And I know that’s how it will be when you are the oldest you will ever be, many many years from now, and I walk into your room, breath taken away by the site of how much you have changed since just a moment ago when you were a young woman with a bare shoulder and dark hair leaning into the sun.

Love seems to make a fool of time, whereas, somehow, time proves the soundness of love.  And that is why you can never look so very old to me. And that is why I will never look so very old to you. And that is why my children will remember this young-me with my dark hair and smooth arms, too.

I love you, my young Mommy.

Always,
Your Little Girl.