Laurie Guerin Carnal
Over the years, my sister and I have reassured one another that we are not our mom, but her voice lives in our heads. I worry about how, in the language of this culture, the word “blame” is synonymous with the word “mother.” I worry that my sister and I have become attached to the stories we rehash.
I have other memories, though, that can’t be reconciled with the soft face before me. I search Soleil’s big brown eyes as she pushes a stubborn curl back and wonder, was I as tender and unsuspecting at her age when that happened?
Minutes and hours stretched ahead of her, barely eight o’clock now. She settled onto the sofa with the baby in the crook of her arm, watched the cat watch the squirrel outside gathering the last of his nuts. The baby sighed in his sleep, sucking an invisible nipple, dreaming of milk.
After she finishes nursing, I gather up my daughter’s things and sail out the door with a silent prayer of thanks: tomorrow I won’t have to bring her back. Tomorrow, it will just be the two of us. I don’t have to return to work for a few more weeks, so I can pretend I’m not really going to make a habit of leaving my child in the care of strangers.
Her head, matted with unwashed hair, smelled sweet and salty, like raisins, ocean air, thick dog fur, sweet-scented wood. I felt the weight of each inhale on my belly, her hard skull against my ribs. Imprinting every detail felt like an urgent matter. I implored myself to cherish, without distraction, this love in my arms, but my mind wandered. I couldn’t get past the fact that I was her mother and couldn’t protect her.
Marina Koestler Ruben
I take both kids to vote. We have to get to work and school, so we’re in line before 7 a.m. I tell my tired, cold five-year-old and tired, cold two-year-old that we are lucky we can exercise this Constitutional right. “It will be worth it,” I overpromise. “One day, you’ll tell your own kids how I woke you up early to vote. We’re voting for the first female president!”
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