Every morning I am awakened by a three-foot-tall singing stripper! This is not the good time that one might imagine it to be. The stripper is the one-and-a-half-year-old little girl who calls me “Mama.” My daughter Luna. Most mornings, at around six or seven, a time when I would much prefer the warmth of my blankets and the rare quiet solace of my bedroom, she instead comes knocking on my door. It plays out somewhat as follows:
“Mama! Mama! MAMA!”
I groan. How can she be so bright and chipper at this hour!
I force myself to climb out of bed and quickly pull on whatever random garments I can find from the pile atop my dresser, silently cursing myself for having not put them away properly the night before.
I’ll take care of them tonight, I silently promise myself, knowing of course that the baby will want playing and the homework will want doing and time will get away from me once again.
I grab a worn black elastic hair band off of my nightstand and pull my long strait light-brown hair into a nondescript matronly bun. It will probably fall down into some weird combination of bun and ponytail by the time my day is through, but for now it holds tight.
“MA-AH-MA-AH” she is still shouting and pounding on my door. I haven’t yet opened it to let her in because I need the few short minutes of privacy to dress myself. She must learn that from me, if she never takes anything else to heart—she must learn that her body is hers alone and that no one else has a right to it. She must learn that because I never did…
I open the door to the screaming demon. A stench permeating the entire seven-hundred square feet of my apartment informs me that she has chosen to once again to provide me with a beautiful work of abstract art using her most favorite medium—the contents of her size six Huggies Supreme Natural Fits.
Damnit! I say this in my head because I have been trying to make a conscious effort to eliminate expletives from the vocabulary words I teach her.
I know it is my fault. Had I awakened at four in the morning like I set out to do, I would have been able to stop her. I would have been able to change her at least. But I did not wake up at four because I was simply too exhausted. I lay in bed trying to catch that elusive five hours of sleep. Maybe five hours is too selfish. Maybe I should just never sleep at all.
This habit she has developed of removing her own diapers and then playing with the contents is something I have been struggling with almost as long as she has been walking. I think back to when she was a newborn. I suffered from Post-Partum Depression; her father was not being faithful to me; and it seemed that she was always hungrier than my mammary glands could compensate for. Yet, every day my schoolwork was done, the house was spotless, and meals were prepared on time. It seemed so hard back then; now it seems impossible.
But every morning is not so heartbreaking. Most mornings, when I open that door to greet my little Houdini-wannabe, I am greeted by her almost-fully-toothed smile. Her bouncing blonde curls puff wildly about her head, several stray tendrils covering one or both eyes. And those eyes. Her big brown eyes, staring up at me so innocently. She is only a year and a half old. Just half the age I was the day my innocence was ripped away from me by a man who did not deserve the title I called him, in spite of the function his spermatozoa might have served in the production of my DNA.
But Luna knows nothing of the horrors of this world. She knows nothing of bad men and their evil ways. Her daddy is a family man. After he surprised me with a wedding one year ago, he chose to be a better man than he ever had before. He works hard at his job every day. He buys us gifts just because he saw them and thought of us. He gets excited about possibilities when I ask him to bring home a Pregnancy Test. He would never strike me or Luna in anger, and he would never ever take his little girl and ruin her life with some sick and twisted version of punishment.
So, on mornings when I do not find myself scrubbing fecal matter off of the drab grey semi-shag carpet, mornings when my little angel looks up at me with my own face from twenty-one years ago, I cannot help but pick her up and squeeze her tightly.
“Mommy loves you very very much. Don’t ever forget. You are very beautiful and intelligent and inquisitive and talented and…” The adjectives keep flowing in a grammatically incorrect run-on sentence, growing less and less discernible as tears begin to flow with them. I am not sad exactly. More like joyful—joyful that this little girl is mine to love and to protect.
Beccy Cole–Sometimes the road I lived on leads me back to my old world. On the front porch of my childhood home sits a little girl. Her innocence helps me turn back the page when I’d sing coat of many colours. I knew every word by heart, and I’d thumble through the changes on an old flat top guitar, make believe the city hills roll into the smoky mountains Tennessee. I’d swap bubble gum for curtain calls with other kids my age, and the shows would last for hours on the Opry tree house stage, and the dreams of little children echo still on Blackwood Hill.