Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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early morning
and coffee
and printing out poems for students who come at 9
and the sharp ache lingering
of yelling
hitting the gas pedal
pounding the wheel
last night

ruby in the front seat
don't know exactly what set me
think it was simple
a request
another request
not for sugar cereal
or for new shoes
or can we go to Marty's for breakfast
or I need new socks
or can I miss drama class
or when do I get my new room
or here are ten reasons why i don't like Zoe
or when will daddy be home
or if daddy dies who will you marry
or can I get another snake for my birthday
or when I get my own room I want either a phone or a T.V.
or do you think my legs are fat
this one was different
she said
if I get up early enough in the morning
will you dye my hair pink?

and it wasn't the thought of pink hair
that troubled me
I think it was just another
you know
another something
a sucking
make the sound now
a sucking sound
the way I felt
tired and driving in darkness
the horrible tuesday night run
the shuttle between gymnastics and brownie meetings
and back to gymnastics and home and dinner and clean up somewhere in
something about darkness
and loneliness
and exhaustion
certainly exhaustion
that caused me to pound the wheel
hit the gas
and scream
before I even had time to think
No! to everything
sugar and out to breakfast
and T.V.s and phones
new shoes
new clothes
No! to everything you could possibly want from me
No! to everything! Do you hear me?!

and the way she sat there
how she shriveled
began to cry
feeling horrible
I'm sure
and the way I knew exactly how she felt
my mother
me sitting there
same girl
same mother
and still
how I couldn't stop myself
kept screaming
and pounding the wheel

Laurie Wagner lives in Alameda, California, and is the mother of two young girls. A teacher and a writer, her books, Living Happily Ever After: Couples Talk about Lasting Love and Expectations: 30 Women Talk about Becoming a Mother, were published by Chronicle Books. Her essays have appeared in and Glamour. Contact Laurie about her wild writing/personal essay classes and her work at word-wrangler.

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