Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Four

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Jelly smears across your cheek. The couch is a good place to wipe your nose. You won't wear anything but sweatpants. You're a big boy. Everyone says this about you every day, every time they see you, even if it's more than twice. He's so big! They whisper it to your mom so you can hear it. He's a beautiful boy says your mom. Very smart and a joker too. Calls himself Storm.
Your brother hits you. You notice he does not like you. It seems to you that he likes you less now than he used to when you were little. You tell your mom. Your mom says it isn't true. She said it's always been hard for your brother to have a brother and that it's actually better now that you are big. You say you aren't big. She asks if you're still little and you say medium. You hit your brother when you can. After breakfast you hit him on the head with your fist until your mom sees and says stop you're hurting him and puts you and your brother in separate rooms. Your brother always hits you first. Your mom says there's no hitting in your family.

You get the TV room for time out. You howl for awhile until you see your Transformer magazine. You bring it to your mom. Your mom is cleaning out the bird cage. Yuck she says. They poop a lot. The two parent birds laid eggs. The eggs hatched. Now the babies are trying to fly. They get stuck behind the water dish and look like they only have one leg. You got to name the first two babies: Spike and Hiss. You hold up your magazine and say I want you to read me this. Your mom says no you are in time out. Go back until you hear the timer.

(The timer is on the microwave and one time when your mom took a rest in your bottom bunk for a few minutes before it was time to pick up your brother from school she really fell asleep. You went into the kitchen, pulled a chair over to the microwave and hit the timer button. You turned it off. When your mom woke up she said I think I fell asleep. You giggled. She went into the kitchen to check the timer and yelled oh shit! You were late. You had to drive and you were happy because your mom had to put your shoes and socks on and you got to take the car instead of walk. Also your brother was crying when you picked him up because he thought you weren't coming.)

You need to poop. Your mom makes you wipe now, all by yourself. No help. She says it's enough already. Now you have to wash your hands. Sometimes it's hard to reach the toilet paper. It rolls away. Or you use too much. Your mom has to use a plunger or pull toilet paper out with her hand and she gets mad. Flush a few times she says. Poop butt stinky fart is your favorite song. It is only for home, not for preschool. Your mom says it isn't funny. You say me and my brother think it's funny. My friends think it's funny too. Sometimes your mom laughs and sometimes she says enough and sometimes she yells quit it! Your mom has a special word called LIMIT and that means really stop.

Sneakers and socks are a big problem. Your sneakers do not light up. There are no Transformers on your sneakers. The socks hurt. They hurt. They don't go on right. Your mom won't help you anymore. You lie on the floor and howl about the socks. You throw them all, find a car to push and stop howling. Your mom puts on lipstick in the bathroom. It takes a long time. You don't like your mom in the bathroom with the door shut. You say it's too scary. You yell for your mom but she doesn't answer and you don't bang on the door anymore because that is how your big brother got his fingers caught and your mom kicked the wall and made a hole and cried. When your mom comes out of the bathroom she says she doesn't want to help you with your socks and shoes but now it's late, so she helps you with your socks and makes you do the rest.

You drop your big brother at his school first and then your mom leaves you at preschool. She plays a game and then she says good bye. You cry. Your mom hugs you. You tell your mom you don't want her to leave. Your mom says look your friends are here. Cole is playing blocks. He's not my friend you say. You say you don't like school. You used to like it says your mom. You say I never did. Your mom hugs you one more time and says see you right after lunch, remember you have a Go Gurt for lunch? Oh yeah you say and stop crying for a minute. Your mom leaves.

After preschool you go to a new store with your mom. A woman helps you, but your mom does not. You get new sneakers and socks. You get to pick them out but not totally. The sneakers light up but there are no Transformers. Your mom said no Transformers because those weren't good for your feet and no Bionicles because they were too much money. The woman shows you a mirror so you can see the light ups. You wear them home. You race up and down the block with your mom and you always win.

When it is time to pick up your brother from first grade the new sneakers hurt. The new socks hurt too. You throw your sneakers across the living room. One of them hits your mom. Your mom says she really feels like spanking you! You start crying. You say that really hurts your feelings. You put on sandals even though it's cold out.

You play on the playground. Your big brother plays with his friends. Today they let you play and you only get pushed over two times and it doesn't even hurt. Your mother sits in a sunny spot and hands out pretzels to kids that say please. Some days she talks to other parents. Today she sits against a wall all by herself and watches you play.

In the dark TV room (your mom puts the light on but your brother always turns it off when she closes the door) you fall asleep during ZOOM. To wake you up your mom gives you a lollypop. She says if you sleep now forget tonight. The lollypop is gone. You must have eaten it but you don't remember. You are cold. Your mom gets you another shirt. Your dad is at a meeting. That means he's not eating dinner with you. At the table you get mashed sweet potatoes. You yell you hate sweet potatoes. You want mashed white! Yum yum says your brother. He licks his lips. Thanks mom these are very good! You push the bowl of mashed sweet potatoes almost off the table. You are still chilly and your mom gets you your bathrobe and puts it on too tight. Too tight! Your mom says take a deep breath. Is she talking to you? You cry and yell until the ravioli is ready and then you eat the ravioli. It's good. You like ravioli.

As soon as your father gets home your mother says she's going for a walk to get some milk. You want to know why your mother is crying. Why would she cry about milk?


Mary Rechner‘s work has appeared in The English Journal, Vermont Times, Upstart, Wollemi, girlzone.com, Parting Gifts, Manila, Asylum Annual and New Frontiers and is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review. She teaches creative writing in several writers-in-the-schools programs in Portland and has been awarded residencies at Caldera and the Vermont Studio Center. Mary is seeking a publisher for her novel, Blood Test, is the recipient of a 2003 OR Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts and is completing her MFA at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is the mother of two boys, ages six and four.


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