Love You Forever

6:12 AM Friday. House quiet. Dark. Coffee in hand, almost too hot to drink. As I’m getting settled in to write and eat my breakfast I laugh, I sit on a chair, stick to it, Fiona got into the agave syrup yesterday. I go to move the chair to sit on a non-sticky chair. I step on a broom, cheerios and a spoon. Laugh. I take another sip of my coffee, Mmmmm now it’s perfect. Last night; book time. I grab “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. I haven’t read it since the babies were really little, I stopped because I couldn’t get through the book without bawling. I thought, maybe now, maybe now that the babies are intrigued by the picture on the cover, the two-year-old on the bathroom floor with toilet paper everywhere. They can relate. I get through the first several stages, the baby stage, the toddler stage, the nine-year-old. I sing “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be” Just as I wrote that tears started to form, my chest feeling funny. I get to the teenager and start crying, I push through until the part where the boy is now a man, calls his mom and she’s sick. I can’t read anymore, I’m crying so hard, “It’s so sad” I tell the babies. I’m crying again now. Can anyone read this book without bawling? Or is it my own personal experience that makes it so sad? Last night was even more complex, memories surface of my mom, myself as a child, Jack and Fiona, seeing how fast they are growing, that I’m the old lady in the book, one day they will see me die. One day I will miss them when they are teenagers. It’s fucked up. With all the cheerios and agave sticking to my feet I wish time would just stop. This damn book, now I’m feeling very sentimental. I may as well delve deeper, tears and all.

I can’t get past the teenager. When I was a little girl my mom and I were very close, I was scared to upset her. I loved her. I loved when she took me shopping for school clothes, one year it was Jordach  Jeans,  they carried at K-Mart. Then when wrap around pants came into style, my mom made me several pairs. When Esprit came into fashion we couldn’t afford it. My mom made me a skirt and top with large grey and white stripes, I thought I was just as fashionable as the girls at school wearing new Esprit clothes. Everyone complimented me on my outfit. In eighth grade It was a pair of 501’s, OP T-shirt, and checkered vans. We still lived in Spring Valley, we just moved from our old house, the house I grew up in. It was dilapidated, I was embarrassed to bring my friends over, which didn’t matter because friends weren’t allowed over. But after school, while our mom was still at work the neighborhood kids would come over, we ran through the house, played Atari, one time I brought my pony Chu Chu in the house and he pooped, steam floated up from the pile of green poop, we all laughed. The roof leaked when it rained, the floor had a thick layer of grime, the paint was chipping off the window panes, the back yard flooded with sewer. My grandma died in the apartment built over the garage, I thought it was haunted. Olive drive started as a hill then flattened out, we rode bikes, skateboards, and roller skates down that hill. There was a field behind our house we rode dirt bikes in. When it rained we built rafts and floated around in ponds, (probably filled with sewer water) During the eight grade, wearing my checkered vans and OP T-shirts, we moved to a duplex. It was nicer than our previous house, it had carpets and heaters in the bedrooms, but the kids in the neighborhood were tougher. My first day there I almost got beat up by Lynette Mc Donald, we ended up becoming best friends. We smoked pot for the first time together, she punched Frida on the school bus for me, Frida had bullied me for a whole year.  We had a good run, getting into trouble, sneaking out of the house, stealing mad dog 20/20 from the liquor store and getting drunk. Then Lynette moved to Wyoming. I was devastated. Then my mom got a new job and moved us to Clairemont, sidewalks and parking lots, suburban. No more honky tonk, taco shop, dirt encrusted, horses and flies Spring Valley. This was the beginning of a depressing, troubled, four years. I was entering high school, my mom got a new job, this is where things got really bad, this is where my mom and I drifted far apart, this is why I can’t read “Love You Forever”

 It was time to go school shopping for tenth grade. I had spent part of the summer in New York with my grandparents, I was fifteen, still a kid, but my stomach was growing and I waited by the mail box every day for letters to arrive from Dinky, he was in jail at the time. I was sick in the mornings, it was too late to get an abortion. Back in California, mom took me shopping, she missed me that summer and was glad I was home. I was depressed and scared, all alone. We picked a bunch of clothes out, that year stretch pants and long sweaters were in style. My mom wanted to come into the fitting room with me like always and I said no. I felt horrible, I was pushing her away, I didn’t want her to see my stomach, to see I was pregnant. I kept hoping that the baby would die, that I would have a miscarriage and the whole thing could be forgotten. Every time I read “Love you Forever” and get to the teenager this is where my mind goes. I feel the pain of a knife cutting my mom and me apart, sending us both down a dark tunnel, we can’t see each other, “How can I help you” she asks. “I wish I knew what you were looking for” this song comes on the radio. “You can’t help me; I’m lost in the darkness” I cry out. We grow farther and farther apart, crisis mode. I just want to be that little girl again. I just want to be good. I want my mom in the fitting room with me.

It’s 7:34AM now, the light outside revealing a wet January day. Grey skies and bare branched trees. Jack and Fiona will be up soon. Time to come back to the present and get a cuddle from my babies, Tell them I’ll Love you forever.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist