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This week’s memoir prompt from The Red Dress Club is to write about something from childhood you know by heart. I know, “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman. The word limit is 500. I’m over a bit, but I shaved EVERYWHERE I thought I could. Sticking to a word limit is HARD. I’ve never paid attention before, and now I know why.
|Me, my babies, and my books.|
A mother bird sat on her egg.
She unraveled my braids and gently scratched my head, tender from a day of tight, manicured pigtails.
The egg jumped. It jumped and jumped and jumped.
She let me choose my nightgown. Care Bears or Rainbow Bright. I loved them both.
Out came the baby bird.
I brushed my teeth, even though I hated it.
“Where is my mother?” he said. He looked up. He did not see her. He looked down. He did not see her.
I got my final drink of water.
“I will go and look for her,” he said. And he went away.
My mother pulled back my gingham comforter that rested underneath the gingham canopy that helped me pretend every night was like camping
He came to a kitten. The kitten just looked and looked. It did not say a thing.
I tucked light pink painted toes into light pink Strawberry Shortcake sheets and snuggled down into my soft bed.
He came to a hen. ”Are you my mother?”
My father appeared in the door way to say goodnight.
The kitten was not his mother. The hen was not his mother, so the baby bird went on.
He would always tickle me a bit, then kiss me, leaving my face itchy from his growing 7:30 shadow.
He came to a dog. ”Are you my mother?” ”No I am not your mother. I am a dog,” said the dog.
My father would leave my bedroom and my mother would slide in beside me to read my favorite book.
He came to a cow. “Are you my mother?” ”How could I be your mother? I am a cow!”
She would open Are You My Mother, always reading the title first.
Did he have a mother?
I began to lace my hair around my fingers and play with the strands that felt the silkiest.
I did have a mother. I know I did. I have to find her. I will. I will!
My eyes felt heaviest when I played with my hair – when I lulled myself to sleep.
Just then the baby bird saw a big thing. This must be his mother.
My mother’s voice showed such concern.
“Mother! Mother! Here I am Mother!” he said to the big thing.
I continued to pull my hair through my fingers.
But the big thing just said “SNORT!”
Her voice was abrupt and matter of fact.
“Oh you are not my mother”, said the baby bird. ”I have to get out of here!”
She let the suspense build. She was good at that.
But the baby bird could not get away. The snort went up.
I shuffled my feet on the soft, cool sheets.
It went way, way up, and up and up and up went the baby bird.
My mother would pause to let me read some of the words allowed.
“Where am I going?” said the baby bird. ”I want to go home. I want my mother!”
I didn’t know how to read. But I knew all the words.
Then something happened. The snort put that baby bird right back in the tree.
My mother had read this story to me over a million times.
The baby bird was home.
I would never be tired of it.
Just then the mother bird came back to the tree. ”Do you know who I am?” she said to her baby.
I sifted another strand of hair through my fingers.
“Yes, I know who you are,” said the baby bird.
“You are not a kitten. You are not a hen. You are not a dog. You are not a cow.”
My eyelids grew heavier and heavier.
“You are not a boat, or a plane, or a snort.”
My bed was warm and safe and pefect.
“You are a bird.”
My mother’s voice softened.
“And you are my mother!”
I closed my eyes and fell asleep.