Today’s prompt is about a time when I lost my temper. There are many that aren’t ripe to write about, anger is a power readily available to me. A wise woman once told me anger is like an ax, you can use it to hurt people or you can use it to build a house.
One time when I used it like the tool it is was when my son was six weeks old. My mother was coming to see my son for the first time, she didn’t make it to the hospital. It had by then been a long time since we had a normal mother-daughter relationship.
I’m feeding my son. He is wriggling closer to me, making these breathy sounds while he’s eating ravenously. My body does that melting thing that it has done ever since my son was born. Natural, I guess, after him being in my belly for nine months. Sometimes it feels like my body is more connected to him than my psyche, which is still reeling. I’m a mother! is my first thought each morning and it feels incredible.
The phone rings.
– “Hi sweetie, I’m going to be there in thirty minutes.”
– “Okay Mom, welcome.” I say, as my heart starts beating loudly in my head. There was just a second of a voice in the background. A drunk voice. But it cannot be, so I put it out of my mind.
My boy is making anxious sounds. Bodies don’t lie. He senses my feelings immediately. I breathe deeply to calm us both. It is time to change his diaper. I lay him gently on the changing table, fuss around with his tiny clothes. Carrying him to the bathroom, I speak inanities that my dad used to say. Phrases that have always irritated me are now my compass in this strange land of motherhood that I am learning to navigate in. My baby loves the water and he kicks his legs in glee when the warm water splashes over his bum. The weight of him on my arm is a miracle.
When he’s all changed and happy, I put him on the bed next to him and we socialize for a bit. More of Dad’s expressions come from my mouth. My mother spoke Finnish to me and my sister. To speak Swedish to my son, is to learn the language of love from scratch. My Dad used to call us sisters his blueberries, in his warmly clunky way. I name my son every berry I know and taste words like darling, sweetie, prince in this language that is foreign to me in so many ways – just like my father was.
The door bell rings. With my son in my arms, I go open the door. I feel tremulous at the prospect of showing my first born to my estranged mother. The minute the door is open, adrenaline starts pumping into my veins in super speed. My mom is there with stripey, unwashed hair and I know she is drunk before she utters a word. There is a man standing at a neighbor’s door, back to me, and while my mom yells:
I identify him as mom’s violent man friend. He turns around and starts walking toward me, my baby son and my mother. Pointing to him, I say/yell/roar:
– “You. Stay.”
Grab my mother. Draw her inside. Close door. Pushing air out of my lungs, I try to breathe calm into my son who is screaming.
I glare at my mother.
– “You are leaving. Now. Drunk and bringing your violent man with you. I can’t believe it.” My voice is loud and cold, only I and my son sense the tremor, which is making him whimper.
She comes closer, her eyes mossy, glazed, draws a cross over my baby’s forehead, except I drag him away and point at her.
She shoots arrows at me with her eyes.
– “I never… I am NOT drunk. How can you be so impolite?!”
I would push her out the door, but I’m keeping my body between her and my child. She throws her stinky hair back and leaves. I run to the door, close the security lock with my key, screeching baby in my lap.
Slowly I walk to our bedroom, holding my prince gently in my hands. The sudden support of the bed is a benediction that allows me to rock my scared little blueberry boy in my arms until he falls asleep, still hickupping from his crying, chubby cheeks firey red. When he is sound asleep, I bundle him up in the blue overalls with yellow patterns, the ridiculously huge hat, the down sleeping bag and put him out on the balcony to sleep. He loves it there.
Back inside, I start shaking. The adrenaline has left my body. Everything tingles weakly. The betrayal I feel is complete. There is no trace of the mother I remember left. My eyes are burning open, while I am sitting on the bed, hulking. I call my husband, my love and sob out the story.
– “I will be there right away. Check that the door is locked.”
The following night I dream. My son is in his stroller. I search after my mother, chase her from dream landscape to dream landscape. I keep forgetting where my son is and when I find him, he is screaming, wet, hungry. When I wake up, I know what I have to do.