She could have been the mother of a dozen girls; all with raven hair and cheeks dusted with the pale pink sheen that left her countenance ages ago. Lovely, airy, gentle girls with names like: Polly, Emmaline, and Mae; with giggles in the morning, books in the afternoon, and Rooibos tea in the evening. They would love her and show her affection, and she would know they cared. Know that she was their mother. Unlike how she felt today: invisible, worthless, stranded, and forgotten.
She could have been the mother of an army of girls with pigtails and curls, petticoats, and dolls. Stupid, perfect dolls with porcelain skin and fingers, so delicate she would hold her breath to touch, just to touch their dainty fingers. She would cry herself to sleep not knowing the wedded and domestic future of her unborn, imaginary army of girls. Cry over grandchildren she would never see, never love, never hold. She would mourn this loss over and over until her heart broke into a million tiny pieces, scattering and chasing each other while blaming themselves for the break. If only her heart had been stronger, tougher, maybe she wouldn’t have failed so miserably.
This mother, this very same mother, looking past her broken son, in a puddle of his own urine, with stained straw hair and with eyes, seemingly so dark, she couldn’t see the blue. With eyes that pained her with every blink she could scarcely look at him as he waited on what she did not know. She could have been a good mother if only her son could have given her a chance. But it escaped him, he was lost in his own world. His world filled with chaos, destruction; senselessness that cruelly clashed with her idyllic, impossible thoughts. Her impossible thoughts.
They would never understand, she’d think. This mother with guilt so alive it walked beside her clutching her hand, would collapse under impossible pressure countless times. She would drown daily with not a life guard or life preserve in sight. They would just look at her with disapproving eyes – eyes that didn’t know the story. The story of love and hope that in one minute would turn into duty and despair. They would not know the doctor that said her son was haunted by ghosts or know all the medicines, the little colorful pills that turned against him and caused him rage. They would never know the pain, not ever, even if explained. She was sick of explaining.
This mother would crawl into bed and pray for forgiveness. This woman would dream of her army of girls, all fancy and sweet, singing lullabies. These tiny angels would dance with ribbons of pink and peace would overcome her until she was reduced to tears. She would feel happiness in this dream; this gift, this blessing of a dream. It was always enough to give this woman a fragment, a drop of hope that the next day could be that day. That day where she would reach her son and her son would live in her world. That day where neither anxiety nor frustration dwelled. That day where her thoughts were not so impossible and laughter cradled, rocked, and soothed the both of them, mother and son.
She didn’t need an army of daughters – she just needed her one son.
“My one son,” she would cry and release to the air. That had to be enough.