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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

Despite the odds, we’ve made it. It wasn’t exactly a shotgun wedding, but we decided for the sake of the baby, we’d get married. I know my friends thought I was stupid, but I was already 21, Evie was 18 and Max was almost a year old, and, it just wasn’t right to me and Evie that we weren’t a family. So we became one. Our parents were relieved. They couldn’t hide that.

Then a year later we had Jess, so we were in it to win it. For a while we struggled, sure. Though the only time I ever seriously considered cheating was when I lost my job 10 years ago; the kids were almost out the door and my ego wanted massaging. One of the managers at the old office wanted to massage it, but I passed before things got to the point of no return. I also wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror.

Max? He’s 27, a carpenter. Jess is 25 and a stand-up. She’s pretty good, once I got over hearing her swear. You never want to think of your little girl swearing. Our friends have little kids and teens, and you can feel the envy when they’re at the house, except for Trina; Trina met a friend of Max’s at our house and they’re together now. Trina’s 42. Will’s 30. They really hit it off.

I look strange? Yeah, well… Evie told me yesterday we’re pregnant. Jesus. Pregnant. I’m 47. Evie’s 44. I’ll be 65 with an 18 year old kid. 65!

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“Mommy?”
“Hmm?”
“Mommy!”

“What, Patrick, what?”

“Stop reading and talk to me.”

“OK. Book is closed.”
“If I was a dog I’d go, ‘woof-woof’?”
“Yes. Approximately.”

“And if I was a cat, I’d go, “meow-meow’?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“But what if I were a rock?”

“Rocks don’t make their own sounds, honey.”

“But when I throw it, it makes a sound!”

“That’s because it hit something else. Rocks aren’t alive.”

“Oh. So dogs and cats and us are alive.”

“Yes.”

“Are rocks alive?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Rocks don’t grow.”

“They don’t?”

“No. And rocks don’t feel anything.”

“Do flowers feel?”

“I think we’re trying to find out. Scientists, that is.”

“Flowers are alive.”

“Yes.”

“And carrots?”

“Plants are alive until we pull them off the trees or out of the ground.”

“Is dirt alive?

“No. Dirt’s just ground-up rocks.”

“I’m confoozled.”

“When you are bigger and in school longer, you will learn all about it.”

“OK. It’s OK to eat carrots?”

“Every living being has to eat to stay alive, so, yes, it’s OK.”

“Would a tiger eat me?”

“If it was hungry and could catch you, yes!”

“I would run and run!”

“It would be better to be far away from a tiger.”

“I saw a cat outside eat its babies!”

“What! When?”

“Today! They were tiny!”

“Oh, honey. I’m sorry. Sometimes that happens.”

“You won’t eat me, will you?”

“No! Oh, no wonder! Believe me, I would never eat you! I love you!”

“You do?”

“Yes!”

“OK. That’s very good.”

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“The book says he thought he’d made it to China.”

“You’re gonna take the word of one book.”

“Why are you such a cynic?”

“Not a cynic. Skeptic. Cynics believed something off the bat and got burnt. I never believe anything straightaway. Anyway, Columbus knew he wasn’t in China. For one thing, no one onshore was wearing any silk. Think about what makes sense. Find the original sources. Don’t just swallow stuff.”

“And when you’re wrong about something?”

“Then I’m wrong. I totally accept that.”

“Mom says you ask too many questions.”

“Mom says a lot of things. She’s human, though. She’s wrong sometimes.”

“I won’t tell her you said that. What?

“You’re 17.”

“So?”

“You’ve never disagreed with what anyone in authority has told you ever, have you? Mom, police officers, books… Ask questions or the world’s gonna run over you.”

“Right. Mom says your big mouth’s gonna get you in trouble. You’re gonna say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time and they’re gonna fuck you up.”

“Really. Mom said, ‘fuck you up’?”

“OK, no.”

“Oh, stop looking so hurt. I just don’t always take what people say at face value. That’s all.”

“Now I see what she meant. Don’t throw things in people’s faces.”

“Don’t lie then get mad when people don’t believe you. I see a few things, myself.”

 

Cherie looked at little brother Alan and her stomach sank. She hoped she wouldn’t have to become a cynic in the end.

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OK, I’m thinking, like, if I stay cold, I’ll burn more calories, right? Right? Because, like, the fat underneath my skin, oh wait, no, that’s wrong, because the fat under my skin will keep my organs warm. Right, that’s why I get fatter in the winter.

Or it could be because I start eating like Grendel in that book in October and don’t let up until the middle of March. It’s all starchy stuff, like potatoes and pasta. My grandma eats like that. Well, she used to eat like that. Then she got diabetes. She eats a lot of vegetables now.

I’d eat vegetables more often except I don’t like them. I mean, have you ever smelled Brussels sprouts? Isn’t it just nasty? I mean, like, oh, my god, how am I supposed to eat something like that? I’ll bet it tastes nasty, too. Why can’t everything taste like bacon cheddar cheeseburgers?

Mom says that hamburger’s getting so expensive now, and until Dad finds a job, we’re going to eat a lot of spaghetti. We used to go out on Friday or Saturday night for dinner at Olive Garden, but it’s too much money. It totally sucks. Mom needs whatever extra for gas to get to work.

I thought they’d fight more, but they don’t. They just don’t talk. I don’t know if it’s because they’re too angry at each other or they’re just too tired to fight. I’m going to start babysitting. You can eat while you’re babysitting, right?

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Mom and Dad… it’s not right, not right at all. There’s some invisible screen in front of me and I can’t touch them. I have to wait.

“Please pass the salt.”

“Salt.”

They’re hardly looking at each other. The hell? Wait, where did that streak of grey in her hair come from all of a sudden?

“So, Fiona, you learn anything interesting in your classes today?”

“Sure, Dad, we…”

“Huh. ‘Dad’.”

“Bradley, please. You said tomorrow!”

What’s wrong with him?  Lines, my god, there’s at least three Grand Canyon-deep gorges where it used to be baby-bottom smooth across his forehead. Why have I not noticed this before? What else have I missed?

“You take biology, right? Talk about DNA?”

“Honey…”

“Don’t you ‘honey’ me, Hannah. Called my lawyer this afternoon.”

Frozen. She flew out of here like a bat out of hell, but I can’t move. I don’t want to know what he’s talking about, do I? Why is he looking at me like that?

“Aunt Tam wanted to do the family tree, remember? Got your saliva two months ago?”

What?

“Your mother balked. I found out why.”

No. No way.

“You want to know who he is?”

Can’t see! TearsNO!pleaserushingswingsshoulderstickleshugsyearsstoriesallliesNO!

“You’re Vincent’s. Only three weeks after the wedding.”

If looks could kill I’d be dead right now. He’s glaring at me like this? I’ve done nothing!

“I’ve been tricked!”

Insane! Nineteen years – and love for me – vanished for him, just like that? Really? How could that be?! How?

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Not yesterday, was it? Not fair those 35 years are such a blur. I hardly remember what I’ve done in between that day and this. I mean, I can, but I’d have to think very hard to piece it all together, which I can’t right now.

I wasn’t able to swing my legs as I was sitting so far back in a hard plastic chair. My head hurt because my thick dark hair was braided too tightly, the crinoline under my dress itched and I’d never seen Mom so tense. For two weeks, she and Dad had coached me: “Mmmm! This cheeseburger is super tasty!” It was fine; I wanted to do it. At my turn, I walked in front of the lights, fascinated. The director told me to think of the camera as a big eye. I cocked my head to the side. “I’m 4, not dumb! I know what a camera is!” From the corner of my eye, I could see my mother’s eyes widen in alarm and the color drain from her face.  Then I giggled, he smiled and that was that. I found my calling; an actor ever since.

Now I’m sitting here, right this second, my own knuckles dead white from clutching my dear husband’s hand, bless him. Michael predicted I’d be here tonight. I wonder how much my face looks like Mom’s did that day. If only she had been here to see this. I miss you, Mom.

“And the Oscar for Best Actress goes to…”

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My damp hair clung to my cheeks. I couldn’t move my arms to take my woolen hat off.

My shoulders felt like lead weights, my left burdened with five large white plastic bags, each brim-full with knits, socks, toys, board games, wrapping paper… The boxes from the board games were sticking me up; turning left pushed the edge of one into my stomach. Turning right, I’d get shivved in the kidney. At the end of my right arm, a tiny moppet clone of me swaddled in a down jacket and fat little boots blinked at the other screaming, darting children and held my hand. We were near the front of the snake-like queue, and I wanted to take a whack-a-mole stick to the rampaging Veruca Salts. The other parents had obviously foregone even the bare minimum of behavioural standards. They were as rats in a Skinner box to Molly, apparently.

“Mommy. That isn’t Santa, you know.” She owlishly observed the not-very-fat man in the suit about 3 yards ahead.

“No?”

“No.”

“Well, then, who is he?”

“He’s the… the… the… subatute!”

“The substitute?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then where’s Santa? I didn’t come all this was to see a (I couldn’t resist) subatute!”

“He’s busy making toys! So he send the guys to get the list from all the kids!”

“So that’s why we’re staying.”

“Uh-huh.”

“What do you want Santa to get you?”

“Can’t tell you. I tell the subatute.”

“OK.”

Just what I would have said. I love this kid.

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