Story A Day in May: 30-Minute Miracles

With the successful completion of National Poetry Writing Month, it’s now time to embark on writing a Short-Story-A-Day in May adventures! You can learn more about this fabulous journey and follow along by writing your own story each day here:  In the meantime, here’s my day one offering. Enjoy!
     “I told you No!”
     One solid thwack on the diapered toddler’s butt after a solid hour of the so-called preferred methods of nurturing parenting ended the battle.
     Without so much as a blink, tear, wail or other evidence of distress, the stubborn fellow veered away from the sliding glass door he had insistently been throwing himself against, weaving his unsteady way to plastic blocks scattered around the toy box. Blinking back her tears of frustration and shame, she reflected on her ignominious failure. To spank a helpless child!
     How could she?
     All through the long months of her high-risk pregnancy, and the even longer months of her baby’s medically fragile entrance into the world, she had sworn that her parenting methods would be radically different from what she experienced.
     No formula for her offspring. No Gerbers, either. Not when there were yams to be baked and mashed by hand, bananas to peel and offer to curious fingers.
     Push toys to encourage crawling — for better right-left brain connections. Long walks in the baby pack in all weathers. Fresh air was essential.
     Dim indoor lighting when natural light faded, and soft guitar, harp and piano music. All hard rock and heavy metal cassettes had been put aside. Gentle, calm environments were a must.
     Face-time, belly-time, and continual talking and singing, preferably using her bits and pieces of remembered French and Spanish languages. And certainly, no television. But, books. All sorts of books. Books, blocks, and toys offering a profusion of textures and colors.
     She was no fool.
     To achieve her venerable goal, she attended every parenting class she could find, dove into therapy. She did everything the midwives said she must for a healthy, viable full-term pregnancy.
     To prepare for the grand experiment of child-rearing, she read every book and article she found regaling the benefits of contemplative pregnancy, natural childbirth, and the incredible first year of baby-led nursing and baby-led weaning, leading eventually to baby-led toilet-training.
     The key here was baby-led. If it was baby-led, it was diametrically opposed to how she was raised, and therefore, to her fevered and anxious mind, correct. It was her only guidepost, her ruler, her measuring stick. The only one she trusted.
     She knew the results of her upbringing. How could she not? She lived them every day. Her child would not have the same memories she carried. Memories that still haunted her fragmented, uneasy sleep. Memories that tripped her into caverns of empty despair. Memories that mocked her dreams and goals, undercut her hopes and fed her fears.
     Fear that, in the end the patterns were set. Generational patterns, fixed in time, no matter her futile attempts to disrupt them. Slowly, she wiped a hand across her wet cheek and turned to stare out the window.

Family Portrait

Each generation

a still-life pose,

mere moments in time,

bearing scars, stars, stories of shame;

Stories of caring

stories of sharing and daring . . .

Each generation,

blessed and blessing,

cursed and cursing.

Questions hover, silent in mid-air:

What was it like to leave an island so fair?

What was it like to learn to walk again?

What was it like to say goodbye to precious new life?

Each of you, so strong, so alive . . . and yet, so isolated.

You haunt my dreams.

You goad me to succeed.

Prodding, pushing, it’s never enough . . .

I want to scream — stop making me bleed!

And yet . . .

at this moment in time,

as darkness descends,

I would trade all I have

for more days at your knees.