All the Mothering You Do

Patrice Vecchione - Monterey, California
Entered on June 20, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: love
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On Mother’s Day my husband handed me a hastily wrapped box. Its shape didn’t give the gift away. But more than the packaging, it was the gift’s timing that confused me. There was nothing about Mother’s Day that warranted a present coming my way—I’m a childless woman. And if my husband hadn’t walked into the crowded room the afternoon he did, when I was thirty-seven, I’d likely be a middle-aged, unmarried woman, too. I was certain that I’d die single, and I wasn’t too miffed about it either. Before meeting Michael, men came into my life and were gone—either because I asked them to go or because they got a true sense of me—before their yesterday’s towels could dry on the line.

I’m not easy to live with. Being a writer and artist, I don’t have a steady paycheck, nor do I earn a lot of money. Teaching has me home sometimes and traveling others. My moods fluctuate more than northern California’s summer weather. Because my true master is art, this heart cracks open at the least provocation and tears make a river of my life. I can’t stand loud music, must eat dinner before eight, find social behavior difficult to conform to, crave abundant reassurance, need to be alone often and for days at a time, have a temper that flares like a match, write about my most intimate moments and then proceed to publish and read those poems and stories to audiences. See what I mean?

When Michael walked into my life he seemed damn close to perfect. He was kind. He had a job. His car worked. He was good to his mother. And the man pays attention—he knows just when my mood dips below sea level and asks what’s wrong and listens to the answer, rarely looking skyward as he does. He doesn’t bring me flowers unless they’re straight from his father’s garden. He leaves his socks on the living room floor to remind me of how well-rounded he is. He comes home close to when he says he will, never says anything mean, and rarely raises his voice. So what if the bathtub doesn’t get cleaned every week?

When I opened that box on Mother’s Day, there was a double strand of freshwater pearls inside. “For all the mothering you do, all those kids you teach, and the grown-ups, too,” Michael said.

For me, the question isn’t what I believe in, it’s who. I believe in my husband. I believe in love.

Patrice Vecchione is the author of Writing and the Spiritual Life: Finding Your Voice by Looking Within and a collection of poems, Territory of Wind. She is also the editor of many poetry anthologies for young people, including Faith and Doubt.