Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
By Ann Grover
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
The fringe of your lashes brush against the ivory of your petal-soft cheek, and your lips move in a baby dream of warm milk. I reach into the cradle and draw the satin blanket up, then touch your silky curls.
These are the last moments of my unmarred motherhood.
Your gentle mewlings will grow to annoying howls and grate on my nerves, especially in the dark hours; my patience will wane, and I’ll let you cry, until finally, I’ll prop a cold bottle against a rolled towel.
Before long, you’ll walk, and you’ll dart about like a flitting bird. At first, I will revel in your freedom and accomplishment, but then, I’ll grow weary of your curiosity and busy-ness. Unable to resist the surge of irritation, I’ll smack your inquisitive fingers, ignoring the hurt look in your eyes. Why won’t you be satisfied with your blocks?
With relief, I’ll send you off to kindergarten, and I’ll feel some semblance of sanity return to my life again, some control. I’ll relish the quiet and try to remember how long it has been since I could hear myself think. When you come home each afternoon, I’ll not be interested in your smudged pictures and crying tales. My day has already been wretched enough. Please, leave me to the respite of afternoon television and coffee.
I’ll be unprepared for the rambunctiousness and giddiness of nine year-old girls. That’s why your birthday party will be a disaster. The tipped over cake and burnt pizza won’t be my fault, my dear daughter. You will ask for a party, and a party you’ll have, but I’ll have no understanding of how to go about such a venture. Even the trivialities will baffle me, paper cups or regular dinnerware, vexing and a puzzlement, sure to displease you and anger me. It will be the first of several missed attempts, and eventually you will give up expecting anything more.
Your teen years will be long and miserable. I can’t say I shall long for any kind of relationship with you, though, for you shall be both tiresome and troublesome, complete with a neverending litany of questions that I can’t answer, resentments I can’t resolve, and observations I can’t comprehend. Your door will be closed often, and to be honest, it’ll be fine with me. During those silent years of aloofness, I’ll be relieved that I’m temporarily released from all but the most mundane duties of motherhood.
You’re going to apply blush to those tender cheeks and mascara to your luxurious lashes, and it will be a source of contention between us. Ironically, it won’t be because you are unskilled or spreading it more thickly than I consider seemly, but because I’ll fail to see the need for it. A waste of money and time. But, most of all, I’ll be envious that you’re covering a beauty I wasn’t blessed with. But tell you that? Never!
I will not be able to protect you, and you will think that I should. How will I be able to guard you every moment, every second? Impossible. Despite all reasoning, you’ll lay it to my account that I failed you, abandoned you.
You will expect too much from me. Mothers are not gods.
There’ll be times I’ll wonder what I’ve done, whether I should have become a mother at all. I’ll watch other moms run and play with their children and ponder why their pleasure comes so easily to them. Motherhood will be a circuitous labyrinth for me, a treacherous maze, and I’ll be confused and bewildered, making mistakes again and again, but never learning. Maybe because I struggled as a child, I will strive as a parent, unable to meet the demands, even as my needs were never met. The crying child still wails.
You shall, in time, marry. Arguments over the cake, the dress, and the flowers will abound and grow heated between us. Your lack of cooperation and sullenness will exasperate me. Although I’ll try to do my best, you’ll resist my efforts. Finally, you’ll drive away with your new husband, the tin cans dragging behind the bumper echoing the clamorous, empty banging of my heart.
So, sleep on, my darling child. Let me have this moment, before I make any mistakes, while I am still flawless, faultless. I am, for now, a perfect parent, a pure and loving mother.
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