Tag Archives: motherhood

Sometimes, it goes wrong.

Here’s my belated Mother’s Day post.

Fifteen years ago a reporter from the weekly paper called to ask if I’d grant him an interview. I stammered “Why?”

Well, we heard you’ve got a home-based business and we’re interested in supporting that kind of initiative.

Flattered, I consented. When the reporter arrived I offered him tea.

Sure, thanks. Have you got honey?

He asked questions while sneaking looks around my kitchen. I showed him my products, explained the process of crafting fragrant soaps from researched recipes, deadly lye and tubs of coconut oil.

Does every batch come out perfect?

No. Sometimes they do not.

He asked about the kids.

About where we came from.

About Tom.

I squirmed. Was my desperation obvious? Why were we here, miles from our roots?

A few weeks later, the article came out. Right before Mother’s Day. At the grocery store, fifteen miles from the house, I lifted a copy from the neat stack and placed it on the conveyor belt.

The clerk smiled. “Oh. It’s you!”

Glancing down, there on the front page, a woman who looked a lot like me smiled beneath the headline “Mother of the Year: Deb Reilly.”

Oh, God. No.

I was just a woman trying to be more than an extension of her family. I was no pious mother-of-the-year.

A decade later this ex-“Mother of the Year” let go of one of her children.

On purpose.

Released herself.

Turned the phone to silent—paying penance, gritting teeth through holiday voicemails. Churning empty.

No. No mother-of-the-Year could have let this happen.

No MotheroftheYear could have been so fucking blind.

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Reality Bite

In 1988 I worked nights as a data entry clerk for the Internal Revenue Service in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was boring work. It didn’t help that I didn’t sleep very well while Ryan was in kindergarten. I was tired most of the time. Although I didn’t like the job, I thought I was lucky to have it. We had one car: my old Chevy, and Tom needed that to commute to New York during the day.

Driving home one night in late February, I cranked the radio to stay awake. It had rained earlier. A thin sheet of ice covered the road. The highway was salted, but I skidded on the exit ramp. Continue reading

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