My Mother, some woman and I

by | Jun 11, 2024 | CNF, Issue Thirty-Nine

A mother is the mark of all beginnings. Your mother was yours. You were twenty-eight when you were mine. I’m not even a day old, and I’m someone else’s.

I am eleven. That is when I met her, though she had introduced herself before. Dad tells me you are something like schizophrenic. I call her by your given name, and she cries. I call her mom, and I do. But you cry anyway, and I do, too, yet that’s the only indulgence I can afford. Our relationship is hatred.

I am thirteen, and I miss you. You came back, and it takes me a while to wash my mouth out so that mom doesn’t leave a sour taste.

I am sixteen, and suddenly, it’s September. Dad, the woman, your parents, and I are celebrating my birthday. You’re not a teenage girl, you haven’t been in a while, but the woman thinks she is. Your parents give her a gift, too. They leave, and she cries, her hands clutching the fabric beneath which your heart beats. She begs at the window on her knees. Her cheek pressed against the glass smeared with your fingerprints, she weeps. Sometimes, she believes she is God, and, without the delusion, I can see the similarity. She begs to be believed.

I am seventeen. Sometimes, your sadness outgrows you. I wear it with you because it was custom-made for me. Even that woman tells me to let it go. As if your illness and my father’s affairs are a matter that can be compartmentalized and placed in a cabinet or a drawer or under the bed. I have your sorrow and mine, and they’re both inside me with no place for me to put them down.

I am nineteen. I’m far past the age to be considered a child and far away from being an adult. I am stunted. I tell you that I think all daughters carry their mother’s pain. I don’t tell you that you had neatly wrapped up yours and laid it in my open hands. I can’t say I know how to say no to you. I never have. You say you feel like a bad mother. You don’t want me to carry your burden for you. I can’t because you do as well. I am what you made, therefore, I’m not sure if there is a place that can hold it better than the body that used to be your own.

I am twenty. I say I love you as soon as you’re back, but, at times, I don’t mean it. It’s not that I don’t, it’s that I yearn for the mother you were before I knew you had to share your body with another.

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