On Babies Leading Babies

“Mommy, who is that?”

She pointed to a picture slid into the fold of a service booklet of a boy with an enormous piece of chocolate sheet cake half-shoved into his mouth with the fork still stabbed into the top.

My mind hiccuped for a moment, trying to make sense of how she didn’t already know the child from the picture, and then realizing that those two only existed in the same spheres in my mind: both safely tucked into the same envelope labeled ‘Momma Bear’.

Of course, she doesn’t know him, they occupied my heart years away from one another.

And yet they seemed so close.

I opened my mouth to answer her, but everything that boiled to the surface sounded too sterile of a description for the slanted and mischief-filled eyes that shimmered over that piece of chocolate cake. Eyes I just saw closed for their final rest. Eyes I can pull from my memory in seconds like no time had passed at all.

Client. Participant. They were accurate but empty.

I wanted to tell her how I met him the day I came in to interview for a college job. He shot down the breezeway squealing, a woman following him called his named sternly, but her mouth turned up at the corners as she picked up her pace to catch him. He ran directly to me, a complete stranger, grabbed both my hands and hid his face behind them as if concealing himself fully from the woman who followed.  I could feel his hot breath against my palms as he snickered, his head bobbing against my belly as he squirmed. When she reached us, she playfully chimed, “Where did he go? He just disappeared!”

He screamed a laugh that could have made the electricity in the room lose connection and ran toward her, throwing his noodle-thin arms around her as she picked him up and twirled him.

“It’s time for lunch,” she stated calmly after placing him on the floor. “Let’s go wash up.”

She held his hand and led him back down the breezeway, but he turned, looking at me as he walked back down the hall.

He tipped his curious, bald head to the side and pointed at me.

“My friend?” he asked with his eyebrows raised to his non-existent hairline.

I smiled and nodded at his sweet, questioning face and he placed his hand on his small chest and nodded back.

“My friend?” he repeated, again and again, nodding as he was lead away and out of sight.

He was the reason I accepted the job offer I received that day.

He was the reason I came back.

It would be months that added to two and a half years of seeing him almost every day. I helped potty-train him. At least twice. I helped him wake up in the mornings and changed the sheets he wet no matter how many Spiderman pull-ups I put on him the night before. I sat in an upholstered chair by his bed and waited for him to lay still and to hear his soft rhythmic snoring before collecting my things and heading back to my college apartment. I watched him rip open Christmas gifts and hold each object to him like a precious treasure. A stuffed Spiderman, a toy truck, a package of superhero underwear, he hugged each one and tucked them safely under his bed covers. I swung him in swings as he squealed “higher!” and laughed with mouth wide open and eyes squeezed shut. I read him stories. I helped him with his schoolwork. I helped teach him so many things.

But he taught me more.

He was a child with so much growth and life ahead of him, and so was I.

“Just a baby leading another baby through life,” as our program director would say.

I didn’t realize then how true those words were.

He taught me how to love without conditions, and to see each person as an opportunity to make a new friend. He taught me how to remain calm when small people are filled with chaos, and how simply sitting and waiting for the storm to pass with arms ready to hug and soothe was far more effective than trying to stop the winds and quiet the thunder. He taught me the vast wonder of how to connect with a person who did not communicate like I did. He taught me the comic value of a well-timed toot. He taught me to laugh from my toes. He taught me what light looked like personified. He taught me that persistence and a well-placed “please” could persuade almost anyone. He exercised muscles I had never used, the ones that loved, protected, and nurtured another person.  He stretched my heart from the thin, self-focused bubble of a college student, to the vast diversity of humanity in all of its beauty and complexity with one simple phrase he repeated day in and day out: “You see me?”

“You see me?” as he proudly brushed his teeth.

“You see me?” as he dribbled a basketball, his foot turned in and tripping him with each step.

“You see me?” as he chewed a giant bite of a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

“You see me?” as he lay in my arms with fever.

“You see me?” as he peed on fruit loops in the toilet.

“You see me?” as he ran on the bridge that crossed over the fishing pond.

“You see me?” as he peeked out from under his covers at night.

 

I looked at Scout’s face, her eyebrows furrowed in a question I still had yet to render an answer to. I dropped to a knee and held the picture out in front of us.

“You see him?” I asked her. “He’s my friend.”

 

I see you now, dear boy.  I see you running over hills with two feet facing forward so you almost fly from the ground, but never fall. I see you whole, your body healed, your hair grown in, light ash brown. I hear you laughing. I see you playing. I feel your small hand in mine. I see you like this forever. I see you, friend, I see you.

 

 

Like parachutes falling up

I prefer to swim alone.  I know that is incongruent with every safety rule about swimming.  I do not take my safety in the water lightly, I am quite aware of the respect the water demands and that even the most skilled of swimmers can find themselves under it’s weight, unsure how to escape.  I just prefer the silence.
When I was child I swam everyday, sometimes twice a day, practicing with a team of children and adolescents whose backs were tanned a few shades darker than our peers, even in winter.  The girls bore the straps of their suits even when they weren’t wearing one, and the boys’ hair stood from their heads in the same chemical-bleached mat as the next one.  We all wore the impression marks of well-fitting goggles around our eyes even an hour after practice had ended, and could each tell you by the slick feeling of our skin if the pool chemicals were balanced well that day, or if the lifeguard had been sleeping in the break room all afternoon, allowing the pH and chlorine to run a muck.
I dreaded practice most days, always convinced I was too tired to even move let alone swim a 5000 meters.  I now know I had no idea what tired even was, and want to take that beautiful, smart-mouthed girl by the shoulders and tell her to smile, thank her mother for driving her and not making her walk and for shelling out the money for tuition and meet fees, and just get in the water.    I’d tell her a great deal more, too, but that would be a start.
But maybe I looked forward to the solitude.  When I was chasing someone’s toes through bubbles, but no one could see me.  Alone without being alone.  When I was young, I would wait until we started a long set, preferably one with a distance greater than 200m, and then I would open up.  I would talk to the water, whispering thoughts into the whirring waves as I pulled myself through.  Sometimes I would sing, or pray.  I’d tell stories, letting the characters come to life across my chin and drift up my neck and past my ears.  Often times I would cry, allowing all my frustrations to mingle around me.  I would take my pain over ill-fitting friendships, failure to measure up to impossible standards, and a family I was desperate to rescue and pour it into a stream of air that would drift to the surface and dissolve into silence.
Today I pull the smooth tautness of a silicone cap over my ears and stretch goggles to a seal around my eyes.  I have resolved to complete 10x100s, an anthill of what my body was capable of at fourteen, but now a hulking cliff.
“You’re doing this,” I tell rationalSarah, who begs to be placed behind the desk to finish her work.  She’s not used to losing, so she takes it poorly and sulks in the corner of my mind.
Perhaps it’s her sulking, or the rhythm of breath –one, two, three, BREATHE, one, two, three, BREATHE- or the forced coordination of arms with legs that drive me forward and begin to pull other facets of my being into cooperation.  It is somewhere around the third 100 that I start to feel a pull in my chest, but I force it away with a strong flip off the wall and exhale deep, watching the pockets of air drift from my nose like parachutes falling up.
I have been avoiding the water as one would avoid eye contact with a sister who can peer directly down into my soul and place her finger on the thing that hurts.  But just like a sister, it forces its way inside the door I thought I locked and needles me with thoughts and questions, waiting for me to tell it what’s wrong.
It’s like muscle memory when I finally do.
I convince myself to try a 100 butterfly, despite the fact that people I work with who teach the stroke for a living are near by, and I could very well make a fool out of myself.  I begin, pulling my belly button to my spine and pushing it out again as I slide end to end through the still blue and count the tiled stripes along the bottom.
After the first 25m, my shoulders burn.  After the second 25m, my abdomen has joined the blaze.  After the third 25m, I’m grateful I am submerged in water for fear of combustion.
And then I do.  On the turn taking me into the last 25m, I burst wide open and scream, the newly escaped rage traveling along my body and then bursting into foam as it becomes tangled in my feet.
“What are you doing?” rationalSarah asks horrified, searching for the boxes she had organized all these emotions into in hopes of quickly returning them.
But I just keep going, breaking into a calming freestyle and crying myself through each lap. I’m whispering small frustrations, like how I can’t get my son to fall asleep before 10pm and I don’t want that to mean he’s done taking an afternoon nap. I’m whispering fears, like how I wonder if my husband and I will survive raising littles and still recognize each other when we come up for air.  I’m whispering grief and loss and pain.  And the water is listening, like she always has.
By the time I finish my tenth 100m, I am calm again.  I climb out of the pool, my head clear and my limbs shaking like a newborn calf.  There is a noticeable dissipation of the tension that normally nestles itself between my shoulder blades, and I grin as the water spits your welcome at me from below.
I force rationalSarah to make a mental note that no one gets anything done if I’m so blocked up with negative emotions that I can’t get through a swim without bawling, and she rolls her eyes in agreement.  Because I process out joy every time I pick my son up above my head and give him a toss, or awkwardly force my bones to master dance moves they will never understand with my daughter.  I process love with each kiss, freshly cooked meal, story, moment of lingering eye contact throughout the day.  I laugh fifty times a day.  I can’t remember the last time I cried.
I dry off, resolve to sit with myself and allow that soft, squishy thing inside me to feel whatever it wants to feel, and promise it that I will try to listen and release what it is holding out, desperate for me to acknowledge.
But it is comforting to know that despite my best efforts, I will fail.  I will compartmentalize.  I will hack off the parts that hurt and bury them like a dog with a bone.  But there will always be the water to loosen the soil around them, and send them floating to the surface once again.

To Bed with Them!

I’ve never had a bedtime routine.  I went to bed when I was told (meh?) as a child, and as a single in college and on my own, I never developed a real habit when it came to lights out.   Except to never actually sleep with the lights out.  Turns out I’ve always been a bit skiddish. 

I think this is a blessing, this lack of routine. Because had I acquired a comfortable pattern of behavior, I may be tempted to mourn its shattered memory strewn across my bedroom floor by two unaware children.  

They have mastered the art of dismantling any semblance of a routine that I can create.  Take tonight for example.

First, I fed them pizza to gain their trust and encourage compliance.  It’s difficult to struggle against a warm bath when you’ve been stuffed with bread and cheese.  However, because I care about their digestive health, I also gave them grapes which may as well have been chocolate coated espresso beans.  

Maybe it wasn’t the grapes. Maybe my plan was a wash from the start.  But I need to discharge some discomfort by blaming something here, so take that delicious vineyard fruit. 

Because of grapes, there was screaming about the delicate process of washing and detangling cascades of curls.  I ran the coils slick from coconut and clove oil through my fingers as she vowed, “I will not put my pajamas on. I’m not cold at all.  I am stronger than you think.”

I must have blacked out, cause all I remember was asking her to please please open her mouth so I could help brush her back teeth.

“It’s fine,” Wynton tried to comfort, “they don’t need to brush their teeth.”

“Oh, but they do.  And they will.” I doubled down with bristles barred.  

A few minutes later, I no longer cared if every tooth in their head has a cavity large enough to whistle Twisted Nerve through it. 

Just let them sleep. Please. 

They’re sweet as they snuggle into bed.  The boy tugs at my shirt collar and coos for a nurse.  The girl reads aloud a book she has memorized cover to cover with pride.  I almost forget that the goal of my quest is to lull them to sleep as I stare into her glittering brown eyes and wonder how many of those freckles on her cheeks were there last night.  

But then, quite suddenly, the moment is lost and so is all control.  When did they get out of bed? Why are his pants off again? Who said it was ok to play JuJu on that Beat and dance? Did I do that?

Chaos. 

Abruptly, the lights go out. Wynton manages to convince them that lying down is what’s best for them as I float somewhere above my own body.  

In minutes I’m surrounded by a chorus of soft snoring.  They drift, chests rising and falling in a communal heart beat, and I breathe breathe deep and suck the marrow out of the highlights of our day as I kiss them each on the forehead and tip toe downstairs to binge on Netflix and holiday food I should have thrown out five days ago. 

I guess it has its routine, and you’re welcome to pin it for later and give it a try if chaos and mayhem sound like your kind of lullaby.

I saw a woman on a bicycle

Her head wrapped in deep wine linen

Her chest open in balanced pride

Her eyes clear and forward

I met her gaze a moment

As she sailed near my window 

I couldn’t help but grip stitched leather 

Her freedom, stirring my fears

Her arms flung wide 

Leaving the handlebars to chose for themselves

And she threw her face skyward

Saphires and merlots fluttered in the wind

And whispered softly 

Nothing can be held tightly

And still breathe life 

And there is joy in the cracking open of clenched tight fists

And peace in the unfolding

She smiles at me as she passes my window

Her joy radiates through the thin lines that mark her brow. 

The face of a woman who has known fear

And learned to release.  

I am. This is. You are.

This is for the artists who find their paths crossed with motherhood

for the painters whose fingers smear through ketchup or snot

more than acrylics or oils

This is for the vocalists who enter the booth already hoarse

from cheering for an unsure soccer player the night before

and for the poet whose best work yet is scribbled in orange crayon

on the back of a Dora the Explorer coloring book

This is for the graphic designer making fliers for the bake sale

and for the actor who voices the adventures

of a stuffed flamingo and his bovine side kick by night light

This is for the dancer whose feet ache from thirteen rounds of the hokey pokey

and for the novelist with fifth chapter writers block

with six other incomplete stories and a feverish toddler

Remember when they showed you how to draw a line

then blur it

Remember when you learned that a broken note

was a nuance

Remember when you stopped forcing the words to rhyme

and found a pattern

When the white space changed from negative to

breathing room

Remember when you missed the rehearsal so

the moment was real

And when you spun left instead of right and created

visual contrast

There is mess in motherhood and art

There is room for both structure and play

Rules and romp

And you will learn how the muse flows in and out with the tides and seasons

You will observe the colors of your heart as sun beams in their hair

And the sounds of your soul as the gleeful shouts from atop a slide

And the words you whisper in your sleep

will fly from the lips of a preschooler with a loose tooth

And you will pick up your paints and pen

Open your software and pull back the curtain

You will do all of this with the knowledge that what you now create

Does not end at the end of your brush or the last burst of applause

But flows through veins and beats through footsteps as they run upstairs

And when she comes to you with pink in her cheeks and hair out of alignment

And asks what is art

You can answer with a warble or a blended hue

I am.  This is.  You are. 

It breaks upon her

wave by wave it brings and takes

Life is coming

She wants to please it,

wants to see it dance and splash,

wants to feel the purposeful pressure and pride

But it is to much

Her feet give way

She has slipped under

Her movements jerk and twist  as violence flies from her throat

she cannot breathe

effervescence taunting her with air too scarce to make useful

She is thrashing now

not to escape

only to breathe

Why can’t she do as others do

Why do they glide along the crests as she is swallowed whole

she begins to let go

admitting to herself that she cannot

and as her fists turn to hands once more

remembers she must let go to swim

She rises

as she watches the girl sink beyond her view

beyond her memory

Any moment now you will see her

She will break upon the surface with her new love in her arms

her delicate tresses now a mane and unpolished toes commanding currents

and she will brave the tides and combers

as you wonder what became of the girl

that danced in the ocean but came home

with the world tucked contently at her breast

For she is not the same as she was

wave by wave it brings and takes.

Little Boxes 

 

I had an hour in between when I left work and when I needed to pick my daughter up from preschool.

The concept of free-time has been so foreign to me since the arrival of my second child (the first was hard, but the second sealed the deal) that I stood for a moment, staring at the crease between two concrete slabs outside my car, trying to force my brain to make a choice.

My brain, being the nervous type, sputtered something about eating a meal ALONE and shopping ALONE. My brain was excited, so I got excited and buzzed over to Panera for lunch.

It was quite relaxing, eating without a barrage of questions or the sinking realization that I should have sanitized all accessible surfaces before my toddler systematically licked them. Quite nice.

After food, I wandered into Home Goods, thinking it’s the only time I’ll actually walk into a store that sells reduce-priced “nice things” which we normally can’t have because “this is why.”

I had one thought: containers.

When I begin to feel a scattered/dispersed/out of control, something in me (I suspect that Brain I mentioned before) tells me it’s time to get organized.

So here I am, at the wall of control.


I could put shoes in that big one, toys in that medium-ish one.


Laundry and laundry soap!


These have a gorgeous specificity I cannot do without, but it was about halfway through another aisle of boxes that the other pieces of me that my Brain never listens to or thoroughly understands started churning.

You don’t need more boxes, love.

I stopped and stared. The stillsmallcentered and I have spoken in a while. She’s been quiet. Or perhaps I’ve been loud.

You don’t need more boxes. Let it be. Come when she calls you, and then let it be. 

I always know what she means.

I’ve been searching for a way to fit my Creative Self into the same spheres as all my other selves.

She doesn’t fit there.

I tried to separate my Creative Self from the rest of me. I cornered her into appointments between 8 and 9p, when children are asleep but I’m still able to muster enough energy to stand.  She would let me sit before the keyboard, drowning self-pity in glasses of wine like the desperate & lonely waiting for a blind-date who isn’t coming.

“You must not know ’bout me,” she chides from somewhere unreachable.

She doesn’t fit there either.

Instead she chooses to show up in the moments where a child is voicing her demands for food in monotone repetitions and another is gingerly tossing carefully cut cubes of avocado at the wall as a pot boils over on the glass-top stove. “Once upon a time,” she whispers, and I promptly punch her in the face.

No wonder she stands me up.

Come when she calls and then let her be.  She is Wild.  She is Free. If you want to hear her, let her be.

I walked away from all the boxes woven with sweet-smelling water hyacinth and wandered aimlessly through aisles.  A befuddled gentleman tried to ask me for advice: something regarding throw pillows.  My first thought was, “do I look like the kind of girl who has opinions on throw pillows?  What kind of girl is that exactly?  I feel like she would at least have her hair styled and teeth brushed by noon.”  But while I was deliberating internally, what I said was, “I’m sorry, I’m trying very hard to not exist right now,” which caused the befuddled man more befuddlement, but at least gave me a clean escape.

I found her staring at me from a basket on the Clearance aisle.

You must not know ’bout me.

I paid seventy cents for her, and the pocket journal she was affixed to.

I guess I bought a container after all.  This is the one she wanted.

Not a box, but a page.  Not a limit, but an outlet.

Perhaps when I bend back the cover and hold a pen over the pages, she will throw back her wild hair adorned with silver and gold to whisper, “Once upon a time.”

Perhaps she wont, too, but I’m willing to find out.

Regardless, I’m now late to pick up my daughter so she has succeeded in her only distinguishable goal which is to add chaos and color to my existence.

Muse:245, Sarah: what game is this again?

Lizards and Pumpkins

Despite the clear Saturday-ish feeling of the dawn, my son arose babbling and tugging at my shirt for a morning nurse at 6am. My daughter’s knees were delicately wrenched into my side as she continued to snore, and the little guy settled in to nurse as I mentally nodded at the heaviness in my chest.

Hello, you’re still there. 

Coffee. I must coffee. And find a way to make pancakes with this unavoidably adorable ankle-biter constantly reconstructing the cabinets whose doors are bare and knob-less despite the box of brushed nickel knobs I purchased three weeks ago sitting open on top the refrigerator.  There’s a pile of dishes on the counter and another pile in the sink and dammit dammit dammit I left that stupid pot of homemade chicken stock that I simmered for a whole day in the slow cooker out all night and now it’s ruined.

“Mom,” Scout murmured as she slid sleepily down the stairs, “I want to go to Home Depot and get some lemonade.”

“I think that was a dream, babe,” I answer without looking up from the dirty cast-iron skillet I’d been vigorously scrubbing.

Breakfast commenced and ended and I sat across the living room from my husband with our two gremlins playing on the floor and saw it there too: the heaviness in his eyes.

Hello, you’re there as well.  Popular creature I suppose…

We ended up at Home Depot after all.  Both bathtub faucets in the house began leaking in the same way at the same time.  Odd, yes?  Yank-your-hair-out-by-the-roots-frustrating as well.

After a delightful stroll with two children down aisles of fall-hazards, sharp objects, and breakable displays, we found our way home.  At some point, as my fourteen month old breathed steadily on my neck and drifted into a nap, I felt a shift.

I’m putting those fucking knobs on the cabinets.  You can’t stop me.

I slid the dreaming block of pound cake into his crib and slipped out the door, immediately requesting my husband’s power drill.

“You sure?” he asked side-eyed.

“Yes.  I put the knobs on that hangy-thing in the entry way.  I can do this”

Maybe it was my confidence, or my use of common construction terms like “hangy-thing,” but he handed over the drill and walked back into the garage, rummaging for that part that was going to fix the bath faucets once and for all.

I stood in front of the cabinets and faltered, “Um, maybe you could just supervise this first one for me?”

He responded with that chuckle that expressed both amusement and foreknowledge.  He might have just as easily taunted, “I told you so.”

I need him.  I need him for more than supervising cabinet knob attachment.  Last night we were in the middle of a passive-aggressive text fight from opposite rooms of the house.  I had tried to fall asleep mad at him– I was met with a tightening panic instead.  I sent one last text: I don’t know.  I’m just panicking.  I’m fine.  Fifteen seconds later he was wrapping his ever-calming arms around my shoulders, pulling me in and whispering, “You’re OK.  It’s OK.” I fell asleep there.

I’m finally learning there is no weakness in needing someone.

I attached knobs to their respective cabinet as Scout dressed up paper dolls and Wynton paced from the bathroom to the garage, searching for caulk.

It must have been the caulk jokes that turned the morning.  First no one could find it, then there wasn’t enough, at times it was too wet, other times we were unsure of the color, but I delivered each innuendo with dead-pan precision and he responded with a slow-blink and half-smirk at my childishness.  This is how we flirt, y’all.

The rest of the day blurred by and soon I was sliding that same sleepy toddler back into his crib for the night before crashing onto the living room floor to finish Cinderella with Scout.  The Prince had just danced with Cinderella and they had stolen away to a secret wing of the palace to whisper sweet nothings and steal forbidden kisses.  Then, as the story goes, she abruptly announces she has to leave and begins to run away, muttering something about lizards and pumpkins.

“I like that,” Wynton said, smiling boyishly, “lizards and pumpkins… it’s like taking these normal things, and making something valuable and magical.”

“Yeah, man, you’re getting the ear for words now,” I teased.

“Maybe I should start a blog!  I can show the world how I turn weird stuff into treasure!”

He might be serious.  I’m afraid to ask.

Maybe it’s not a blog, dear ones, but maybe it is a life.  Maybe we can pull this heaviness with us and these fears that cling to our chests and maybe we can take these mundane and insignificant details and create something magical?

Because it may be just a day of conquering cabinets knobs and caulk jokes, but these are our lizards and pumpkins and though no godmother is going to turn them for us, just maybe we can create a little magic ourselves?

Bippity boppity boo!

 

The Golden Girl

She found them as she was rummaging through the sensory table in my toddler classroom: little pebbles spray painted gold to inspire fantasies of pirates and buried treasure in the imaginations of littles. It worked, I guess, because she scooped three of them up carefully, washed them in the sink, and clutched them to her chest. 

“Can I keep them at home, mom?” she asked without whining.

I nodded and asked her to help me take the excess sand from the sensory table out to the playground and dump it. 

“Can I take my treasure?”

I nodded, again.

I was dumping sand when a pair of bouncing brunette braids appeared and said, “hey Scout’s mom? Can I have a gold rock too?”
Before I could reply, two other preschoolers flanked the girl with the braids and added their pleas for some treasure. 

I giggled a little, knowing what they wanted was literally the rocks they were standing on with just a bit of paint. Just the simplicity of it made me smile. 

“Guys, I don’t have any gold rocks. Scout has the last three.”

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have put her on the spot like that. I saw my mistake unfold as the three begged earnestly for just one rock, pleeeeeaaaase. 

Scout looked at me and grinned nervously. I was about to step in when she said, “well I only have three and if I give you each one, I won’t have any.”

Math, y’all. My preschooler just mathed. I was distracted by her awesomeness and achievement in an area I continue to struggle to this day. 
Regardless, she paused a moment and then handed each one of her friends a shining pebble, subsequently making their entire lives it would seem from the squeals and cheers that erupted. 

I was stunned. Math and selflessness? She’s not mine. Check the hospital records.
 
We walked back from the playground and I praised her like the fan-girl I am for being so awesome and cool and such a great friend. She just grinned at me and said, “I love you, mommy.”

Tonight we read a story together and I cuddled in next to her as she sucked her thumb and gently rubbed my arm with her fingertips. I asked her why she chose to give her friends her rocks, because I hadn’t thought to ask her before. 

“I’m not sure,” she said with her eyebrows furrowed together. 
I patted her curls and kissed her forehead to tell her that reply would suffice. Not everything has to have a reason, sometimes it just is. 

 She had been quiet for several minutes and I thought she was asleep when she said “mommy?” much more alert than I had expected. 
I was a little annoyed when I responded, “You’re not asleep? What?
She cuddled in and and whispered, “you’re my favorite kind of gold.”

*photo credit: Sum and Substance Photography.

Becoming my Mother

I put on shoes meant for herAnd carry purses filled with child toys

Busy at making and cleaning.

I am not my mother

But if I wear her raisin lipstick, maybe.

What is this strange thing daughters do? 

As I am growing into womanhood 

I must define myself away 

from mother, 

I must push and change the parts they say are “just like her.”

She is harsh, unbending, unfair

I am not my mother.

But then I become “mother”

The change reaching into my cells

And soul

Here lies the fear:

What if I am not like mother?

She is strong, wise, enduring 

I am not my mother.

There is a picture of her 

Tucked away by her mother 

And as I stare I can’t decide

If I’m looking at my mother

Or myself.