Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who is a Mom?

[The following was written for Michelle’s April Write-Away Contest over at Scribbit. This is fiction for me, and I will be forever hopeful that it remains such. It is not a happy post. It is, however, where my mind wandered when considering Michelle's prompt of "Mom."]

I wonder if it stops for others, the turning their heads in the direction of the voice of an appropriately aged child of indiscriminate gender. As their children age and leave early childhood and then childhood itself, do they stop spinning in response to the word shouted across the aisles? I don’t recall noticing older women doing it, so I imagine the reaction is less instinctive and more learned. The less frequently they are called by it, the less frequently they turn when the word is used in their presence.

“Mom!” “Mommy?” “Mama!!” “Mom-mom?!”

I still turn when I’m out and I hear a child yell for her mother or his mother. Even though there is not even an infinitesimal chance that it is my child calling for me, I look. Enough time has not passed for me to have unlearned the reaction. In all other cases, I think too much time has passed. I am, frankly, amazed at how quickly time has passed. But in this instance, it has not passed quickly enough.

“Mom!” “Mommy?” “Mama!!” “Mom-mom?!”

I have not heard someone call me that in 83 days. For 83 days, I have done nothing a mother should ever do. I have given away my child’s eyes and heart and skin and 11 other body parts. I have selected a funeral home, a coffin and a cemetery plot with a view of the bay. I have thrown away more casseroles than I had previously ever seen – much less eaten – in my life. I have comforted my parents and my sister and my nephews and my friends and their many children. Or they have comforted me. The line of comforter and comforted has blurred on many occasions.

“Mom!” “Mommy?” “Mama!!” “Mom-mom?!”

Her preferred moniker for me was changing, from “Mom-mom” to “Mommy.” I think her exposure to the other kids at preschool referring to their own mothers with the age-old name had an impact on Celia. I liked being Mom-mom. I was growing just as fond of being Mommy. I know the teen-age drawn-out Mo-ther would have eventually arrived and driven me crazy, but all I want now is to be able to look forward to those clashes. Clashes which won’t exist.

“Mom!” “Mommy?” “Mama!!” “Mom-mom?!”

Days pass, first in slow motion and then at such a startlingly fast pace. I am supposed to take things one day at a time. That’s what everyone tells me. I am not supposed to project out days and weeks from now, much less years. But I do. All I see is emptiness ahead. A Celia-free life is all that looms for me. A life where I am neither “Mom-mom” nor “Mommy” nor “Mom” nor a mother of any sort.

“Mom!” “Mommy?” “Mama!!” “Mom-mom?!”

I do not want to have to think about the answer to the question those I meet in the future will ask. I do not want to continually ask myself a similar question as “Do you have any children?” Am I a mother?

6 comments:

CrAzY Working Mom said...

Wow, very powerful post! Nicely written. I've still got chill bumps.

"Sunshine" said...

You are a very effective fiction writer. This was one of those gripping stories that grabs hold of you and just doesn't let go. Very haunting. Very well written. Good use of repetition.

Giggles said...

Wow you gave me a different perspective with lots to think about since my friend just lost her second disabled child in February.She talks about him constantly and wants to keep his spirit alive. But that question (is she still a mommy) is haunting! Well done....and good luck on the contest!

Hugs Giggles

Scribbit said...

It definitely speaks to you when you've heard that "mom" call.

Jeni said...

I have to confess that apparently my eyes were just briefly scanning over the intro to this post and as I read it and realized where you were headed with this topic, I began to kind of panic, thinking I had somehow missed several posts of yours and that some tragedy had happened to your daughter or some such. And then I went back to the top and saw this was fiction which then allowed me to breath a sigh of relief. But guess that tells you how real your writing was in this piece as it really had me deeply into the piece.

Antique Mommy said...

Loved it. Nicely done.

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