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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

TITLE: Unmarred
By Ann Grover


Sleep, my little one.

The fringe of your lashes brush against the ivory of your petal-soft cheek, and your lips move in a baby dream of warm milk. I reach into the cradle and draw the satin blanket up, then touch your silky curls.

These are the last moments of my unmarred motherhood.

Your gentle mewlings will grow to annoying howls and grate on my nerves, especially in the dark hours; my patience will wane, and I値l let you cry, until finally, I値l prop a cold bottle against a rolled towel.

Before long, you値l walk, and you値l dart about like a flitting bird. At first, I will revel in your freedom and accomplishment, but then, I値l grow weary of your curiosity and busy-ness. Unable to resist the surge of irritation, I値l smack your inquisitive fingers, ignoring the hurt look in your eyes. Why won稚 you be satisfied with your blocks?

With relief, I値l send you off to kindergarten, and I値l feel some semblance of sanity return to my life again, some control. I値l relish the quiet and try to remember how long it has been since I could hear myself think. When you come home each afternoon, I値l not be interested in your smudged pictures and crying tales. My day has already been wretched enough. Please, leave me to the respite of afternoon television and coffee.

I値l be unprepared for the rambunctiousness and giddiness of nine year-old girls. That痴 why your birthday party will be a disaster. The tipped over cake and burnt pizza won稚 be my fault, my dear daughter. You will ask for a party, and a party you値l have, but I値l have no understanding of how to go about such a venture. Even the trivialities will baffle me, paper cups or regular dinnerware, vexing and a puzzlement, sure to displease you and anger me. It will be the first of several missed attempts, and eventually you will give up expecting anything more.

Your teen years will be long and miserable. I can稚 say I shall long for any kind of relationship with you, though, for you shall be both tiresome and troublesome, complete with a neverending litany of questions that I can稚 answer, resentments I can稚 resolve, and observations I can稚 comprehend. Your door will be closed often, and to be honest, it値l be fine with me. During those silent years of aloofness, I値l be relieved that I知 temporarily released from all but the most mundane duties of motherhood.

You池e going to apply blush to those tender cheeks and mascara to your luxurious lashes, and it will be a source of contention between us. Ironically, it won稚 be because you are unskilled or spreading it more thickly than I consider seemly, but because I値l fail to see the need for it. A waste of money and time. But, most of all, I値l be envious that you池e covering a beauty I wasn稚 blessed with. But tell you that? Never!

I will not be able to protect you, and you will think that I should. How will I be able to guard you every moment, every second? Impossible. Despite all reasoning, you値l lay it to my account that I failed you, abandoned you.

You will expect too much from me. Mothers are not gods.

There値l be times I値l wonder what I致e done, whether I should have become a mother at all. I値l watch other moms run and play with their children and ponder why their pleasure comes so easily to them. Motherhood will be a circuitous labyrinth for me, a treacherous maze, and I値l be confused and bewildered, making mistakes again and again, but never learning. Maybe because I struggled as a child, I will strive as a parent, unable to meet the demands, even as my needs were never met. The crying child still wails.

You shall, in time, marry. Arguments over the cake, the dress, and the flowers will abound and grow heated between us. Your lack of cooperation and sullenness will exasperate me. Although I値l try to do my best, you値l resist my efforts. Finally, you値l drive away with your new husband, the tin cans dragging behind the bumper echoing the clamorous, empty banging of my heart.

So, sleep on, my darling child. Let me have this moment, before I make any mistakes, while I am still flawless, faultless. I am, for now, a perfect parent, a pure and loving mother.


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This article has been read 1578 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 11/23/06
Wow, Heartbreaking and so true for many.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/25/06
Such a true account of mother and daughter relationships. Sad, but so often real. Nicely done. Like a pro. Like a Master.
Joanne Sher 11/26/06
Wow. I think I may know who wrote this - this is just amazingly honest and sad and atmospheric. Definitely a masterpiece.
Cheri Hardaway 11/26/06
Beautiful! Just beautiful. The canvas of our lives can remain unmarred only if we do not live. And to be a parent, one must live. To live will be to make mistakes. Your piece has captured the irony of parenthood. We long to do things perfectly, but can never attain our goal. But love covers a multitude of sins! Blessings, Cheri
william price11/27/06
This story flows so smoothly. An excellent, gentle story written in the hushed tones a mother would use sitting next to her baby. I couldn't think of anything that seemed out of place. I loved it. God bless.
Shanti Singh11/27/06
This was very, very good. It deals so well with the disappointments inevitable in parenting, and the changes that take place in the relationship between mother and child.
Bonnie Derksen11/28/06
Thanks for hinting my way here.
Incredibly well written, and in some ways, incredibly sad. There is obvious truth for all of us as readers. I loved the suggestion that we parent with our own unmet needs... "The crying child still wails."
Great writing. Masterful in every way.
Jan Ackerson 11/28/06
I love this because at first I thought the title was referring to the innocence of infancy...I love the last bit, where you write "...while I am still flawless, faultless..." Absolutely the right note.
Donna Haug11/29/06
I found this very heavy. I was looking for the moments that make the parenting worthwhile. But I see the contrast you are trying to make with the beginning and end. Great title and tie in to the ending. So even though I didn't like it, I loved it! How's that for confused??! ;) Good writing.
Dennis Fletcher11/29/06
Rather interesting look on motherhood, but what a lot of truth. Well written!
Donna Powers 11/29/06
How sad, but so eloquently expressed. Very skillfully written. A different perspective, but you executed it well. Thanks for sharing this.
Maxx .11/30/06
Near perfect, as always. Congrats on a well deserved win!
Marilee Alvey12/01/06
This was heartwrenching, well worthy of publication. I am in awe of how you did it. You have found your voice and are comfortable in it. I have lived this story out. Just like good comedians make us look at what we have considered "normal" with fresh, new eyes it seems we don't possess on our own, you cause us to look at our lives from a distance that we can't seem to achieve by ourselves. You have taught me much....about motherhood and about writing. This story mentored me on many levels. THANK YOU for writing it.
Venice Kichura12/02/06
Perfection! Congratulations on a well-deserved win!