The Virtue of Motherhood This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 20, 2017

The little girl pulls me down the stairs, our fingers laced together like a knit sweater. Each step comes with its own squeak. I imagine that each piece of wood is crying out with their own personality, wanting to break free of what is on top of it – my bare feet.

“Mom and I made pancakes,” she says, and I can feel her fingernails dig into me as she says it. She always squeezes a little bit too tight. It’s a habit I’ve grown accustomed to and have learned to love.

There’s that tacky shag carpet that I’ve seen in pictures of my mom at that one Elvis concert, where she’s holding me and I’m just a tiny baby. Maybe I’ll have kids someday, and if David Bowie is still popular, I’ll take them to see him and snap a few shots.

It’s hard to describe that feeling of walking into a room where sunlight is peering through the window, lighting up little things you don’t usually notice, like that hair ribbon you left on the counter last night. I would use the word warm to tell you how I’m feeling, but it doesn’t quite do things justice here at the foot of the stairs.

And then, there she is – my mom. I can see every frizz on her black curls as the sunlight comes in, decorating her face, almost like a halo. Her bright yellow bathrobe clashes with the faded yellow of the kitchen curtains behind her. It’s so visually interesting that I think the universe intended it to be this way, so that my little sister and I could see her like this. And I know that weight in her pocket is a package of Marlboros, and I know she’s gone out for a hit or two recently because of that light scent of smoke when I come over to hug her.

“Good morning, Mom,” is all I say. It’s all I need to say as she twists her skinny fingers in and out of my bristly hair. 

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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