My husband walked into my bedroom. He was home from work. I was on the computer
seeking proof of my existence.
“Our son is in the hallway strangling himself with the vacuum cleaner cord,” my
husband informed me.
“Oh, fuck,” I muttered. I rushed into the hallway to see my three-year-old
son standing in front of the full-length mirror with the vacuum cleaner cord
wrapped around his neck several times. My husband appeared and said, “Let’s
get you out of this, buddy.” He untangled the boy and I leaned against
I keep failing as a mother. There was the time my son fell down a flight of stairs
when he was a year old. He wasn’t hurt. I was shaken. I resolved to track
his moves more closely.
Then there was the time I walked into his nursery to find him naked in his crib
eating his own shit. I got on the computer and researched the harmful effect
of eating shit. I was relieved to discover that eating your own shit will not
I dont even want to talk about what it was like when I returned home after spending
a week in San Francisco. I had lived the life I had always wanted, hanging out
with literate friends, drinking vodka gimlets at night and coffee in the morning,
walking the city streets, feeling absolutely myself and absolutely free. Upon
my return I would not leave my room. One night my husband insisted that I go
to our son and soothe him to sleep. He was crying out for me. I got in bed with
my son and he clung to me.
I was too numb to cry. I thought about sitting in welfare offices, waiting for
my name to be called, the stares of pretty teenage cashiers when I handed them
my plastic food stamps card and WIC vouchers. I held my son and willed him to
fall asleep so that I could return to my room and my dreams. In my dreams I am
never a mother. Nobody needs me.