What is that makes a mother try to reach for perfection? She had reached that goal of a family of 5, which consisted of twins and an older son and professional husband. She was a housewife. Not sure by choice- more by determination. She loved to remind us all, she wanted a family. She never had one. She stayed home with because she wanted to. She chose to never leave us. She chose to never go out with her husband because of her children. She was quite strange, in that I remember her preparing dinners all afternoon in our cracker-jack house. The meals would be extravagant for a middle class house wife…chicken cordon bleu or pheasant under glass. She would dress in an ornate gown and then have us all ready to bombard dad as he walked in that evening. We were to be ready and prepared to have a wonderful as that fabulous Kennedy style family.
Everything had to be exact. Once preparing a 12 layer chocolate cake, she almost went insane. The layers were thin and sliding. And the icing was runny and messy. My daddy casually walked in to mention how delicious the cake looked. She glanced up above the top layer and with both hands, dug into the cake with her nails and threw the entire across the kitchen at his head. Of course, I wasn’t going to let chocolate cake go to waste. I simply walked over to wall as the argument ensued and licked the icing off the wallpaper with my fingers.
It was Mother’s Day. Muggy and warm and shiny mud was underneath the big Oak. In the South, most know what shiny mud is…it is where mud hardens just enough but still soft on top and there is an iridescent glimmer on the surface. When you step on it with bare feet, the soft top pulls off and becomes muddy moccasins. I had tromped my “moccasins” all over the patio. My favorite kind of day. And I was waiting to give my Mom her Mother’s Day gift to her. As I waited, my brother and sister came out to play. And naturally we began to fight and bicker as siblings do. Finally my mother came out and we immediately stopped. Eagerly we handed her our presents that we each had made. She scolded us for be such bad children and simply walked over and threw the freshly wrapped presents in the trash. There they stayed.
I cried throughout the afternoon and evening. I stayed in my safe box for most of the day with my crayons and drew in the dark. For hours and hours I remained in my closet with the door shut, drawing feverishly on the wall and doors on the inside. It was mine. My spot. It was cold. And dark and I could put anything on the walls without ever really having to contemplate what shapes or forms were produced in my madness.