The Happy Mom
Jasmine loved to dance. Just remembering how she used to dance when she was younger made her smile. But life gets complicated. With four kids, a husband, a blog and a business, she barely had time to walk.
“Jasmine,” her best friend said over tea, “do you remember how we used to play drums?”
“Oh my God!” Jasmine exclaimed. “That was when your brother visited Africa and came back with this beautiful djembe. We banged away on it until he was afraid we’d break it so he taught us the strokes.”
“I loved that drum,” her best friends said longingly.
“I still have dreams where I am playing the djembe, you know?” Jasmine confessed.
“I just bought a djembe,” her best friend confessed.
“You did!!!???” Jasmine was jumping on her seat. “Oh my God. That is awesome.”
“Would you like to play with me? We could take turns drumming and dancing,” her friend invited.
Jasmine felt how her enthusiasm fell to the floor, as if someone had drained it suddenly. She could feel her color draining.
What was wrong with her?
“I…I…” She struggled to talk. She wanted to say “HELL YES!” But she simply could not. “I’m so busy,” she said. “With the kids and work and…”
“You don’t have fun anymore,” her friend accused. “You are becoming like an old woman, like some Stepford Wife or something.”
The kids burst into the room and Jasmine shoot up as if her tail was on fire.
Her friend was confused.
Jasmine went into a trance. She took the kids’ stuff and put it away. She went into the kitchen to serve the meal.
Her friend stood in the threshold to the kitchen, looking at Jasmine with an expression somewhere between pity and annoyance.
“I’m married now,” Jasmine apologized, though she was getting irritated. Why did she have to apologize? Her friend needed to grow up.
“What does that have to do with the price of eggs?” her friend challenged. She turned around, picked up her things and left.
Jasmine was too busy for many hours to give it a thought.
But as night fell, things got quiet. The kids went to bed. The husband settled in the sofa with a book.
And her friends’ reproach echoed between the empty walls of the kitchen as she turned off the light and stood there, feeling empty.
“What does it have to do with anything?”
“How I used to dance. I loved it!”
“Do you remember when we played drums?”
What was happening? Who was she becoming? When was the last time she was happy?
She vaguely remembered her high school years.
Why was it so hard to do the things she loved? It was almost as if she was becoming allergic to her own happiness!
A Shadow stood on the threshold. For a moment Jasmine thought that her friend had come back.
But then the Shadow gave a loud, skin-curling sigh and muttered something.
Jasmine could not understand what the Shadow was saying. She was too terrified of its presence.
“You grew up. That’s all,” the Shadow repeated.
That voice…it was so familiar.
“Who are you?” Jasmine managed to ask.
“Life is not a party, you know,” the Shadow said with that suffering tone.
That tone… it was so familiar.
“There are responsibilities, duties, sacrifices that we do when we love our family.” the Shadow drone.
And it was then that Jasmine knew. This was her mother’s voice. This Shadow was her Shadow Mother. She had absorbed this misery-monger from her mother. It lived inside her.
This was the litany she heard as she was growing up. Every time that Jasmine was happy, the litany would start. Every time she went to a party or went out with her friends, her mother would wait and the minute she came through the door, the litany would start.
“Enjoy life now while you can,” her mother would say. “Once you marry, you won’t have time.”
“Oh my God!” Jasmine screamed. “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Her husband was there on a second.
“Honey, what’s wrong? Are you Okay?”
“I am following my mother’s instructions!” Jasmine said.
“What? A recipe?” her husband asked, looking around.
“A recipe?” Jasmine laughed hysterically. “Yes, a recipe for misery!”
Her husband looked at her as if she had sprout a second head.
“I am catering to a prohibition, honey,” Jasmine whispered, still in shock.
“What prohibition?” the husband asked, starting to suspect something. “Whose prohibition?”
“The prohibition to be happy,” Jasmine said. “My mother’s prohibition.”
Her husband hugged her and rocked her gently as they embraced.
“How can I help?” he said.
“Dance with me,” She requested as she took him by the hand into the living room.
Jasmine loved how his eyes lit up. She had not seen that joy in him for a long time.
He went to the Ipad and turned it on.
Their song started playing. And they started dancing.
“Thank you,” he said as he kissed her neck.
“What for?” Jasmine said. “It’s you I should thank for playing along.”
“I’ve been missing you,” he said.
“I’ve been here,” she answered, surprised. But just as she said it she knew it was not true. She had become more and more absent. The things she loved. The things that made her happy. Her laughter. Her joy. Her mischief. Her sensuality. Her passion. Piece by piece they had begun to disappear from her life.
“I’m back!” Jasmine said laughing out loud. She felt so alive!
She looked around. No one stopped her. No one scolded her for being happy. There was no punishment, no reproach. The Shadow had gone.
“I’m a happy mother,” Jasmine said. “I’m a happy wife!”
“And I love you for it, baby!” Her husband said as his lips went a little lower.
“That’s the gift I will give to my children,” she decided. “My happiness.”
By Maria Mar(c)2017
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