The Hair Bow, a story for Mothers Day

The Hair Bow
Rachael Ikins copyright 2013

Her big eyes gazed back at her in the mirror. Mama materialized from shadows to lean around her, to straighten the big pink bow. Her threadbare tulle dress was clean and pink. Blonde, punkin style haircut, popular on children in the late 1920s, lace trimmed ankle socks white enough and scuffed white leather Mary Janes. One knee bandaged from a header off her rusty trike. “You go now. Don ‘t lose paper!” Her mother patted her bottom and gave the instruction with a heavy German accent.
They moved to the US between world wars. Theft of her father’s invention by his boss, because his boss thought him only “a dumb German” to take advantage of and to blame for WW I, caused him to have a breakdown. He languished a month in a mental ward in the hospital at Marcy in a strait-jacket. That’s how they treated nervous breakdowns back then. 
It was the Great Depression. The young mother hid her accent, spoke English only at home. Grocery allowance small, she improvised and served many watery lentil and milk soups. On the rare occasions they could afford meat, the little blonde girl and her younger sister would fight over the beef fat or suck marrow from chicken bones. 
They lived on the Jersey outskirts of NYC. Back then, grocers could be found on every corner. Because everyone had little, most stores offered credit. That was why Mama dressed her up, the big stiff bow that she otherwise might’ve liked, but not now. Her stomach was tied in such painful knots, doctors in later years found an ulcer scar. Her parents, new, frightened, hopeful Americans, sent their little girl to turn those big blue scared eyes beneath that bow to the man behind a counter her nose barely cleared. 
Things forced can grow up crooked, including children.
As an adult and mother in later years, she withheld food for her own daughter. Insisted her child was fat. Caused an eating disorder. Dyed the daughter’s hair blonder, got her green contact lenses which left corneal scars because glasses were not suitable for attracting boys. 8 years of needless braces rather than question the orthodontist. She sacrificed her daughter to sexual predators in school and disbelieved her when she told of a teacher’s molestation. Twisted the concept of “safety and love” to “Don’t rock the boat.” If only her daughter conformed, if only she was anyone but herself, the mother would not be anxious. 
This daughter is now grown, and her mother is dying. The only way to love her mother turned out to be in memory of that five year old scuffing to the market, still, so many decades later, dreaming of a mother to protect her. How to deny that child love? She keeps her dream of finding a protector mother secret in her own heart’s vault.

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One Response to “The Hair Bow, a story for Mothers Day”

  1. clover58 Says:

    Such a sad story.

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