Monday, 23 January 2012

Snip Snip and Your Gone

I gave you a haircut little one.
You asked for your hair to be cut and I was bored.
So, I took the scissors out and started snipping away.
Snip snip, snip snip.
Your beautiful curls fell to the floor,
one after the other,
like snow slowly building during a quiet vermont morning.
Your eyes stared straight through me trying be a “big girl,”
still as a statue, frozen.
I try to copy the moves of the stylist
pulling your hair,
trying to even the bangs as they crawl up your forehead.
From Mommy’s cherub to a beatnik
and you love it. And I love it.
And you skip through the house with your new look,
your first “new look”.
The bounce doesn’t fall as fast, as far.
Cassat succombs to Warhol,
We giggle in front of the mirror,
as I push down your colic.
Later that day, I will collect all the little pieces discarded,
left on a towel
in the middle of the hallway.
You’ll peek out at me from the pile, 
well, the old you will.
The part that will be gone
as it slides through my fingers.
I can’t let it go.
Instead, I cover it with plastic and grieve.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A Mummy Daughter Day

Today is your day little one
Mommy will not get the ironing done
Nor will she shush you while she listens to the man on the phone
or ask you to use your inside voice
Mommy will not roll her eyes when you unfold the silk sheets
Instead she will let you ride on them like a sled
or roll into it as if it was a hammock.
Today is your day little one
Mommy will not quiet you to finish gossiping with a friend
Nor will she prod you to perform
or make the moment a “growing time”
Mommy will not rehearse with you that poem
but instead we will laugh at silly verses we create
because words aren’t easily remembered
For the years you served me,
quietly putting away your outside voice
going from A to B
instead of going round it and round it again.
Tidying the princess castle into the moat,
replacing your princess dress with the pretty one just bought you
and waiting to use painting sets…
…still waiting…
For letting the other little girl go first.
Today is your day little one
We can prance around with our hula hoops,
twirling them over each other
watching them drop off our hips
Barefoot, swaying to the music, bumping Butts,
howling out of tune.
shrugging shoulders, touching noses.
cuddling in, wasting time.
wrapping up in a cocoon, together,
twirling around and around and around.
We will have such fun little one,
just you, me and that naughty little shake that the doctors are watching.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

When Your Child Is Sick

I can't cry. I can't not smile. Those big brown eyes of my recently turned four year old girl is gazing up.  She wants to show me a toy that just won't work and she wants me to somehow fix it.  She has found it at the bottom of the bin, located in the corner of the doctor's office.  I am trying to fix it as best I can, but I can't quite function, my hands fumbling about, eyes are traveling from her to the doctor. I have just heard that something needs further investigation.  I didn't expect this, I expected to be told that I was overreacting again. But this time I wasn't, at least he doesn't think so.  
Suddenly I am driving to the hospital and finding my way to the children's ward where I watch my child's eyes fill with reservations. She curls up behind my leg, and I gently pull her out and usher her to the nurse.  My tense smile spasms, chin quivers and eyes go up.  They then say that she needs a blood test, she doesn't like needles.   I know she doesn't like needles.  I try to explain it won't hurt, but it will.  Even at four, she knows it will, and she cries and fights me and calls for Grandma because maybe grandma won't betray her the way I did.  I know I can't cry, but I can't seem to breathe either.  I just gasp and turn my head, while my arms hold her little body still.  I then get my voice back and promise her everything, attempt bribes, but she is too smart for that.  Her arms try to break free, her body slips down. I pull her back to my chest, somehow I have slipped from the position of protector. I wonder if this is all necessary.  I wonder how long it will take for her to forget about all this and if she doesn't forget about this, then what role will I play in her memory.  They wrestle her arm down and I hold her and tell her to look at the princesses on the wall.  The cream numbs her arm and the needle enters, and when they are done, she says frantically, "Ha ha, I was fibbing.  I was just fibbing." "What about princess?" I answer, looking at the nurses, thinking that the "pain" may not exist.  "I wasn't really scared." she says with her first tense smile, hands shaking as they pull back her hair. "OK," I say, kissing her forehead. She looks down. 
I called on Monday.  She was fine they said.  I don't remember them telling me that they were still waiting on a test.  The nurse called tonight, "Can you make it in tomorrow?"  We want to do some further investigation.  Oh, not again, please not again.  Just tell me she is fine.  
I am sitting across from my husband, desperate to tell him that I need him.  That I can't do it alone again. However, he has just told me how demanding work is becoming, how he feels swamped. How can I ask him to ask the boss for one more day, especially when I told him that the nurse doesn't seem that concerned? I just sit pretending to listen to him while watching the TV and growing silently resentful.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Linen Ladies

I remember lying on the bed, quiet, staring at the ceiling, my eyes blurred and burning- too many tears.  In the background the baby cried and in the foreground, I whimpered. You would never know that I was thirty-five, a hormonal thirty-five.  I just had made my first baby and was about to take my first trip to the health clinic, four and half stones heavier than nine months ago, three hours of sleep and a newborn still in an ASDA sleep suite. 

I walked into the small, hot room, dressed in overstretched maternity sweats. Flaps of deflated excess skin lapsing over the elastic waistband, surrounded by mothers and their babies, who were crying, laughing, playing and being weighed, babies, babies, babies, a menagerie of noise.  And there I was, in this surrealistic moment.  It was a wake up call to remind me that the rest of the world still existed and that rest of the world was doing far better than I. I wasn’t the only one who had taken ten pregnancy tests, wondered when the first heartbeat began, questioned if the butterflies in my stomach were the first signs of movement, become obsessed with my Mummy’s Pregnancy book, made the midwife cry with laughter asking how will I know when I am in labour and charted every early contraction until I could no longer hold a pencil. Had a warm tiny body placed on my bare chest and cried and cried and shook and cried and looked up at my husband who cried and then we both looked at the new life that we weren’t worthy of and she cried. It was still a miracle but a frequently experienced miracle.

So there I stood, not knowing what to do. I didn’t know where to go but everyone else did. I went to a free scale and started to take off my child’s clothes, stumbling about unsnapping a suite that was far too big, I heard from behind me, “Excuse me.” I turned, did I know her? She looked familiar. I smiled back , cradling a half naked baby in my arms. “Yes” I said.  “There IS a line,” the tone was patronisingly sweet. Worse, she was not the lovely quiet woman I had walked in front of; she was the one behind. How could I not have seen the line? She continued “We hand our books to the health visitor, undress our babies at that table and then go to an open scale. “Right” I said. “I didn’t know” I picked up my baby’s suite and started to scurry off. “Excuse me.” I turned, “Yes.”  “Her vest.” “Thank you,” and I went off to search for a health visitor, but they were all weighing babies.  Finally, I just stood there, waiting, feeling like a large cardboard box to be tripped over. Someone did move me. My book was taken, put into a box and I was moved to the changing table to leave my child's clothes then ushered to the back of the line.

Little one's weight was recorded in The Book, I was given a coffee, my screaming child was given a smile and then I was told to find a seat; but the seats were in a circle and I didn’t have a free hand. I couldn’t gain entrance into the circle.  “Is this seat taken?” I asked sheepishly. A little shake of a head told me no as she turned back to her conversation with the woman across the way. I shifted left, then right, moving the seat with my foot and there went the coffee over her lovely linen pants. Lovely linen pants that she had taken the time to perfectly iron. She stopped talking and so did the other woman, and this little part of the world was quiet and I was frozen. I was stuck, half in and half out of the circle, with coffee burning my hand. “Oh, I am so sorry.” “Its fine she said with a lovely smile, pulling the chair out for me. I sat down. “Are you all right?” she asked. “Yes, thank you” I replied. She smiled, pulled a stain remover clothe out of her nappy bag, removed the stain, smiled at me and then turned back to her friend to finish the conversation, as her baby napped peacefully. Fuck you, I thought.  Fuck you and your perfect linen paints.

Cry For Little One

I cried when you left. You skipped as usual through the school gates; your little ponytail, like a pendulum, back and forth,  back and forth, keeping the beat. Each day we say goodbye farther and farther away from the school grounds, as you gain a greater awareness to what is and what is not “cool”. It is the cause of that tickle I feel at the top of my chest before you leave. I take a quick breath in, and then once more, as I realise today that I will never see you again.  I will no longer feel you cling as tight to me when I need to leave; or pull as strong at my sleeve as you bring me into your group of friends. 
In a few hours time, this “you” will disappear, erased by playground folly, or a shoulder brush and sneer from another child.  It may just be a conversation you overheard and pretended to understand or a kiss from a boy, but a bit of your innocence I guard desperately will die. Your shape, your being will change and it will be unfamiliar to me, one of your many new riddles that will confuse me. 

When you return after a long day of hard work, shirt untucked and hair tussled, you will keep a bit more distance. You will be a new girl, older, taller, maybe a longer gait, slightly different smile, with behaviours collected from others tucked into your schoolbag. Something will be lost, traded away on the playground, something that I am able to feel but cannot see. You will be more independent, that is, of me, and I will miss you. I will grieve your loss behind my fake smile as I ask you how your day went and as you try to mimic a stranger with your response. You will look up at me, smile, and with little fingers pull your hair behind your ears.   It will only be when we pass the bend in the road, when you will feel safe enough to take my hand and I will never want to let that hand go.