first condition for equilibrium

28 Oct

I always wonder if the nattering got to my mother.

Perhaps I wasn’t as persistant…or loud, or whiny however I doubt that. Alone, singular and by default quieter. But there were days when her eyes rolled back until she could see her own ass and she thought “dear lord, if this child does not remove herself from my sight I will send.her.back with postage and chips.”

She thought that, right? This woman who wanted me, desperately, or if not desperate, at least enough to wait 7 years for the phone call to come, for the news that another babe in wool, a girl was ready for her barrenness to rear.

I’ve always found it unfair that I of all people were given two daughters like a summer sunrise, while so many good people go without children, cast into a life of second best, of want and need so heavy it lingers in the air between them like dice thrown at craps. What have I done to deserve such beauty, such wonder? Was it a gift of surrender, the universe shrugging and saying “well bitch, maybe this time it’s ok?” Was it a lesson, wrapped in sadness and joy and absolute chaos that life is what links us, that new starts are what bring smiles to the faces of old men, broken long before we could think to salve it.

I do not deserve the security of continuance, do not possess the ego necessary to thrust my genes into the wilds. And yet here I sit, daughters of my womb snoring gently (or not so gently) in the room beneath this ragged wood floor. I, their mother, shaking her head in stark confusion.

To an action a reaction. A spark burns the forest to our heels. Love begets love which leads to hate and boredom. I meet a boy when I’m 15 and fall in lust/love and years later I bloom like a tulip, twice, and bring forth awe. Gravity. Centripetal force, unending, their center in my center, heart of their heart, the beating drum heard on a table and then, in a tiny chest fluttering like a bird in giant hands.

And then to natter, incessant, to tell me the laws of birds and men, the vague ties of rain and mettle. It would be horrible if I lost my voice she crowed.

Horrible, not my exact adjective. But a fluttering heartbeat in my teeth, a moment lost beneath the daily trudge, a reward. A pause. A denial, life thrown into the darkness, hostile baring teeth.

Impelled toward a center, circling.


Mid afternoon this time of year, the light turns hollow and brittle, a clear yellow which breathes melancholy and memory. It falls through the yellow and blood-red leaves, dapples my eyes with her face, my mother at the kitchen sink, clearheaded in the late day sunlight.

I am at her feet, humming a toy car along the carpet lines, and feel her gaze upon my head like a benediction every few minutes. Around and above me the adult world, the secret monotonies in the cupboards, the sharps and dips she stood before, brave.

She glows in the light, then, and now, time a shutter, and I the center.

She smiles, I grin.

Not the center. The starting point after all.


5 Responses to “first condition for equilibrium”

  1. Jennifer October 29, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    My first born was 1 in a million and took 10 years to get here. My second, supposed to be impossible. But then, she nearly killed me on the way out, so I suppose that was my comeuppance.

    Biology is biology, you wern’t “given” the girls by any higher power who granted you fit to have them. Having children isn’t granted to those who deserve them, as we both know people who have no right to have children, and some people who desperately want them, and have no right either. The opposite is true for both.

    You’re allowed to be annoyed when they don’t stop talking for days on end. Honest. I ask the youngest all the time if she ever stops talking. She says “no”.

  2. Deer Baby October 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    You are a phenomenal writer. Really.

    I love the ‘sharp monotonies in the cupboards and the sharps and dips.’ Such a beautiful portrait of your mother standing at the sink.

    My own mother must have felt the same. I think we all do. I remember her saying through gritted teeth ‘Will you please just stop saying Mummy. I am standing right next to you.’

    My mother in law waited for years for a baby and yet when she finally got to adopt it didn’t turn her heart to love but rather it remained shrivelled up with bitterness. And my mother’s mother gave her away – sent her back with the postage and chips for real. And knowing all this, I still hear myself saying to my children ‘Please – just stop talking for one goddamm minute.’ I think perhaps all mothers do.

  3. Marcy October 29, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    I remember reading or hearing about a mom who said, “My ears are tired, so you can keep talking but I’m going to stop listening.”

    I get tired of the constant chatter, especially the repetitive stuff — lately, the “Did you hear the soft sound of my drinking, Mom?” — and then there’s the latest many-times-a-day “let’s play Cinderella…”

    Sometimes wish they didn’t latch onto a few things and wear them out for months at a time.

  4. hodgepodgeandstrawberries October 30, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    Oh good god the constant chatterboxing, I cannot handle it some days. Yes, they are wonderful children and I am happy to have them. Yes, I wouldn’t trade them for quiet children although I do wish they had a volume button, or perhaps “mute” or “pause” sometimes.

    The worst is when they stand one of each side of me and talk… and talk… and talk. That’s when mommy throws her hands in the air and says “alright, STOP! no more! one at a time!”

    I remember my mother telling me to please give it a rest with the talking. It was also written on every single report card I ever brought home. I’m guessing this is karma biting me in the ass.

  5. Quadelle October 30, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    We jumped through countless hoops over the six years it took us to finally have our first child. We love our kids immensely, but there have been more than a few occasions they have left us so completely spent that we look at each other in confusion and ask things like, “Why was it we wanted kids so badly?!”

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