Posted on Jun 17, 2008. See more in In My Words

The slap of the door is what she heard. Though there was no door. There was no house.
There was only that sound. The slap, slam, shutting of a door on years that began with a cry
in the night, a Child to be fed, the Mother’s breasts pounding with milk and the Child
sucking, sucking until the Mother was dry. Years when Bumble Bees swelled to the size of
small whales and hid under the Child’s bed. And when the Child called for help, in the
darkest hour, the wise Mother knew the way to throw wide the window so the Bee could fly
out. She was Hero then. For years and years she was Hero. Those were the years when the
Mother’s knew how to protect the Child. How to cordon off stairs that fell away. How to
nod yes, go ahead, try, but as the child stepped out on the tight high wire, she knew how to
lace the fingers of her hands, and position them there, just out of sight, just beneath,
just in case. And when the Child grew taller than the Mother, there was still a leaning on
the Mother’s breast, a seeking. Should I wear this or that? What if I don’t make the team?
Will I be all right? She learned how to fly, the mother did, and soared over twisted metal
and landed, just in time, just as the ambulance pulled up to the swinging doors. Doors that
opened onto hospital corridors where the Mother learned how to walk and wait – and wait
to hear that yes, she could still cast the Child forward to swim alone. And like a fish
the Child bit the lure of a life on its own, though every day tugging at the line. Tugging
but never asking, Are you busy? Is this a good time to talk? And all those years the woman
who knew how to be the Mother acted as if it was always the perfect time, as if
she did nothing at all except wait for the Child to call. Every day. For years. The Child
graduated, found a job, married, had children and proclaimed no more need for Smothering
Mothering. And though the door had been closing inch by inch, the Mother failed to notice.
Didn’t feel the air she breathed being squeezed into a smaller and smaller closet – until,
there was that slap, slam shutting of the door.  And then the Mother remembered that she had
heard that sound once before. When she too had slapped, slammed the door, a little too eagerly,
a little too thoughtlessly. On her own mother’s life.