Slide. Fiction from Melissa St. Pierre

“Come wiss me, mommy!” 

It is the best sound I have ever heard. 

She leads us to the slide and up we climb. “Rarumpth!” It’s our dinosaur shout and we do this, giggling, as we each take BIG steps up to the top. 

I sit at the top of the slide and pull her onto my lap.

“Ready, Bug?”

“Yes!”

And off we go! 

I remember to let my heels drag along the cherry red plastic, because the friction slows us to a speed my girl finds comfortable. 

“Do it again? Mommy?”

And we do. 

Seven times today.

And it’s the best.

When I drop her off at school/daycare, I know I’m doing the right thing for her. But. (Because what’s a mom story without a “but”?) Mom guilt is real.

I leave my girl, who is fine playing with the other kids, by the way, after telling her I’m off to teach the big kids. She grins and off she goes to play, because she knows mommy will be back.

When I get to my “go go” (her word for my car), I turn some noise on because the absence of her little voice will drown me. 

Today, it was the soothing melodies of Nina Simone that guided me out of my parking space and into traffic. Once I get going, I am okay, but damn(!) if those first few seconds don’t stick like a homemade shiv. 

The negative rhetoric of working mom haters sticks in my jaw like a ham bone. It splinters and abscesses, and I swear that the only effective antibiotic is time. 

I’m making our best life. And I know it.  

I get to work and trek the quarter mile to my office. And when I arrive, I’m greeted with happy faced photos of my baby. My entire work space is peppered with photos (sorry, I’m not sorry). 

When I arrived to get my best girl, she was waiting in line to wash her hands. She didn’t see me enter her classroom and I quietly stood back, watching her interact with her friends. Once she saw, she ran, full speed into my waiting arms.

“What’s up girlfriend?!” I call.

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” And she leaps. Straight into my arms and onto my heart. 

“Who did you make smile today, Lovebug?” I ask as we walk to the go go.

“Jacob.” She says.

“How?”

“We played toys.”

Okay. Makes perfect sense!

“Who made you smile?”

“Anna!”

And a story about Minnie Mouse later, I love Anna. 

When I get home, I put work aside, because I’m done with other people’s kids for the time being. I have my best girl, and don’t I know it (acutely) they she will only be small once. 

“I make dinner for you, Mommy!”

“Okay! What’s for dinner?”

“SOUP!” as she pulls out her plastic chocolate syrup container. (Girlfriend is my mini.)

Every night I sing her my “version” of “Blue Moon”, just like my mom did for me. Bug tucks her head into the crook of my neck and sighs, singing along with me. 

I close her door to keep out the sounds of mommy’s second job. I run laundry, pick up the misplaced everything’s, and lay out the next day, getting us ready to inevitably be late.

I sit down with my phone and check in on my classes one last time, I look at the Times (often wishing I hadn’t), and check in with my wonderful tribe of friends. This lasts for about ten minutes before I crash, usually with the tv on, and muttering, “I’m not sleeping.”

There’s a photo, or twelve, on my phone from today’s adventure in the park. But there is one that I love best. My girl is wearing her Batman cape, and she’s sitting on my lap on a swing. She’s looking right into my eyes and she’s smiling.

She knows I’ll always go down the slide.

Always.

“Goo nigh Mommy.”

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