This is a memory from my childhood.. It touches on the solitude of being a mother.
| The house is dark, silent. Outside the wind howls. Snow drifts against the veranda and sifts up on to the windowsills. I can trace frost with my fingertips and scratch outlines of people in the white ice forming on the inside window. In the cellar the furnace starts up, and as a group, my sisters and I race to stand on the hot air register. We giggle as our long, white, flannel nightgowns billow out around us. The warm air heats our chubby thighs and creeps up our backs and chests. It is Kerry's turn to go stand at my mothers' leg and have her waist length, chestnut hair brushed out into smooth shining waves. Occasionally mom hits a snarl and with gentle fingers untangles the knot. Next it is my turn. My long dark straight hair is fine and rarely tangles; my mother brushes it back from my scalp and down my back. Sometimes she hums a nursery rhyme or tells us stories of when she was a child. We listen raptly, eager for the tidbits from her past. I remember her best like this, the gentle brushing of our hair, our belling night-gowns, and the endless moments suspended in that drafty old house. All too soon it would be time to scamper on toes chilled by the cold floors and up under our mounds of blankets.
Now, as an adult, and mother too, I wonder at her patience. The evening partly gone, my father working nights, she would take out her old treadle sewing machine and begin the endless mending and darning for six busy children and husband. Then, she must have put her mending away and begun the painstaking work of creating Christmas presents from hand-me-down dresses, marked down dolls and ends of material.
Upstairs, lying in my narrow cot, I would hear the soft whirr of the sewing machine and drift off to sleep, surrounded by my pets and dolls. And downstairs my mother must have worked well into the night until exhaustion drove her to bed.
by Katherine Adlam