Sunshine – for all the mommas out there

I couldn’t tell you my age but I know I was young: a toddler in Mom’s arms. She sat with me in our shared bedroom at my grandmother’s house and rocked me in the old wooden chair while singing nearly in a whisper.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine …”

It was probably after she left my father. She packed a few of our things in a suitcase and we returned to my grandparents. She tried so hard to shield me from feeling broke and broken.

It must’ve been cloudy outside, because of the soft dewy light that hung in the air like mist before a rainstorm. I now know that there is an empty field outside of that window where neighbors parked their cars, a place where I searched for lucky four-leaf clovers as a six-year-old. But on this particular day my world was so small and focused. I only saw Mom surrounded by the light reflecting from dark clouds.

“You make me happy when skies are grey …”

Her voice was like a blanket warmed on the line. There were tears in her eyes over having to be both mother and father. Maybe she didn’t want to move back home with my grandpa and grandma. Maybe she didn’t want to give up on her marriage or admit to being wrong about the man she loved. She had to do what was best for us.

“You’ll never know dear, how much I love you …”

Mom had the softest touch. She tucked loose hairs behind my ears as she sang the words. Just the first verse, because it was her favorite part. Or maybe that was all she knew by heart. I can’t remember anymore.

There are other memories from Grandmother’s house: the claw-foot tub, the hutch with all the Avon bottles, Grandma cooking stuffed cabbage in the kitchen and the smell of onions and ground beef sifting through the house. None are like the memory of Mom rocking me. The biggest lessons come in the smallest moments.

My life is quite different from Mom’s. Justin, my husband, and I are best friends. And we don’t have financial problems like Mom did. But that isn’t to say we don’t ever deal with stressful situations. Right now we are in a transition stage: house is for sale, and another is under contract. We aren’t sure exactly what the future holds, but I know staying strong for my daughters is most important.

“Please don’t take my sunshines away.”

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12 thoughts on “Sunshine – for all the mommas out there

  1. I love your writing voice and tone. This is another great piece of yours I have read and, stylistically, I love how you’ve periodically inserted the verses of the song into the post. It’s different but easy to follow still.

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    1. I agree–your voice really comes through on this one. I see, through a variety of your essays, how you’re “working” on finding that voice, and when you hit it, it’s like a clear, perfectly tuned note. This was lovely–simple, yet emotionally evocative. When you briefly contrasted your mom’s life with your own, I couldn’t help thinking–and I think this is the mom in me–how deliriously happy your mom would be to know of your own successes and contentment. Well done.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how tactile this memory is: your mom’s touch, the sound of her voice, the light through the window. It’s the moments like this that matter, and you’ve shown that beautifully here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The detailing was wonderful in this piece, Danielle.
    My favorite line was this, “She tucked loose hairs behind my ears as she sang the words. Just the first verse, because it was her favorite part. Or maybe that was all she knew by heart. I can’t remember anymore”
    Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think she was really lonely. My dad was just not a good person. She had me, her friends, her parents. She made hard choices for me, and I guess I didn’t make that transparent enough. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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