Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Arielle Silver


"Mother"


Mother: [Noun] a woman who has borne a child.

    1. First came love.

                       Father: Spring break she took a road trip down from Georgia for the weekend. Ended up at my frat party.

                                   Where are you from? I asked.
                                   New York, she said.
                                   Your name sounds Jewish, I said.
                                   I am, she said.
                                   What's that on your finger?
I asked.
                                   I'm engaged, she said.
                                   Why don't you break up with your fiancé and go out with me, I said.

    2. Then came marriage.

                       Father: About a month or so later she called to say they broke up, so I
                       caught a Greyhound to Valdosta.                        
                       
She drove me back to the bus on Sunday; I proposed.

                                   Sure, she said.

                       Never took her eyes from the road. We married in August. Well, the chapel
                       had already been arranged, the dress, the menu.

                 a.   As planned:
                              i. Chapel
                              ii.   Rabbi
                              iii. Family of the bride
                              iv.   Dress

                 b.   Plan modified:
                              i. Groom
                              ii. Groom's family


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists marriage as seventh most stressful of life events.








    3. Then came baby.

Mother: [Noun] the female parent of a plant or animal

    4. Mother became a parent

                 a.   17 months after the wedding (respectable)
                 b.   5:35 a.m. (a week late)
                 c.   in a hospital (in Florida)
                 d.   to a daughter.

    5. Pregnancies (1975-1980):
                 a.   First: born (daughter)
                 b.   Second: aborted
                 c.   Third: miscarried
                 d.   Fourth: born (son)


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists pregnancy as twelfth most stressful of life events.








Mother: [Noun] the origin or source of something


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists gaining a new family member as fourteenth most stressful of life events.







But:

    6. moving cannot be dismissed (four homes, three states in three years) because:


the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists major change in living condition (new home, remodeling, deterioration of neighborhood or home etc.) as twenty-eighth,








and


changing to a new school as thirty-third


    




7. [Daughter
                 a.   Grade 1 (FL)
                 b.   Grade 2 (NY)
                 c.   Grade 3 (NJ)]


and changes in residence as thirty-second








(see above),

and


major change in the health or behavior of a family member as eleventh most stressful of life events,



    8. and Mother's behavior did seem to change

                Father: Perhaps it was hormones. She wasn't like that when we met.


Mother: [Transitive verb] to look after or care for as a mother does


but also, the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home as twenty-sixth






and changing to a different line of work as eighteenth most stressful of life events,









    9. Mother did want a career

                 a.   Lost dreams, known:
                              i. Archeologist
                              ii.   Fashion Designer

                 b.   Careers, known:
                              i. Hebrew school teacher
                              ii.   Avon lady
                              iii. Market researcher
                              iv.   Museum administrator
                              v.    Caterer
                              vi.   Hebrew school principal

    10. and Daughter could babysit Son:
                 a.   House key pinned in school bag.
                 b.   4:45 pm: Son's baby cheeks wet with tears. Son stood in garage fretful   
                      with stomach-eating anxiety. Son wanted Mother.
                 c.   4:45 pm: Daughter drank SlimFast from the cabinet and ate two bowls of
                       Chex.


the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists major change of responsibilities as twenty-second most stressful of life events,

                 





                 d.   and watched reruns of Three's Company, Happy Days, and Laverne & Shirley until Different Strokes and The Facts of Life came on,
                 e.   folded laundry,
                 f.   ran fingers through the carpet until garage door opened. Mother arrived.       
                      Crying stopped.


Mother: [Transitive verb] something regarded as the biggest, most impressive, or most important; example: the mother of all yard sales

    11. Mother's beauty:

                                              She is so pretty! said the Teachers, Sales Clerks, Librarians

                 a.   Beauty items:
                              i. nail polish
                              ii.   shaving razors
                              iii.  eye shadow
                              iv.   tweezers

                 b.   Fitness:
                              i. "20-minute Workout"
                              ii.   Jogs

                 c.   Diet:
                              i. SlimFast
                              ii.   Weight Watchers

    12. Daughter's beauty:

                                              Am I pretty? Daughter asked.
                                              I wouldn't say pretty, said Mother. I'd say striking. But
                                              your belly sticks out. Try sit-ups. And vertical wall
                                              slides. Your bottom sticks out.


Mother: [Adjective] derived or learned from or as if from one's mother; native

    13. Daughter: I will not let chocolate pass these lips

    14. Afterschool, revised:
                 a.   SlimFast
                 b.   No Chex

    15. Not permitted (for Daughter):
                 a.   nail polish
                 b.   shaving razors
                 c.   eye shadow
                 d.   tweezers
                 e.   haircuts

                 f.   Converse (Your feet are too long)
                 g.   Boots (You'll grow out of them)
                 h.   Jeans (When you're older)
                 i.   Logos (You don't want to be a walking advertisement.)


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists revision of personal habits (dress manners, associations, quitting smoking) as twenty-ninth most stressful of life events








    16. Items taken:
                 a.   On the bathroom shelf: copper nail polish  
                 b.   CVS: an eyeliner pencil.
                 c.   kitchen drawer: scissors (for legs, in lieu of a razor)

    17. Mother: She yanked out all her eyelashes! [laugh, laugh, laugh]

    18. Mother: She tweezes her eyebrows! [laugh, laugh, laugh]


Mother: [Noun] a woman having the responsibility and authority of a mother

    19. Rules:
                 a.   Separate dishes: meat and dairy.
                 b.   No school on Jewish holidays.
                 c.   No trick-or-treating. (Halloween is Pagan!)
                 d.   No night time parties. (There might be drinking!)
                 e.   No entering a church. (It's a sin!)
                 f.   No concerts.
                 g.   No driving with friends. (Cars are killing machines!)
                 h.   No pins in the walls. (We may sell this house!)
                 i.    No dating (Anyone, especially:
                                         1. non-Jews
                                         2. black boys*
                                         3. girls**

              * Regardless of religion
              ** Obviously)

    20. Family vacations:

                  Mother: Go without me

                  Daughter and Son: Get a divorce already!


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists vacation as forty-first most stressful of life events.








Mother: [Slang] short for motherfucker, somewhat vulgar.

    21. Holes in the bedroom doors
                 a.   Punched by Son:
                              i. Attention needy?
                              ii.   Frustrated?
                              iii.  Lonely?
                              iv.   Anxious?

                 b.   Holes punched by Daughter:
                              i.   Frustrated, followed by hasty exits with:
                                         1. tooth-brush
                                         2. diary
                                         3. pens
                                         4. stuffed unicorn
                                         5. clarinet


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists son or daughter leaving home (marriage, attending college, joined military) as twenty-third most stressful of life events.





    22.   First year of college, winter vacation:

Get out, Mother said,

            and pulled the Volvo to the shoulder. Daughter got out. Mother drove off. South
            Florida summer heat, an unknown road, an unknown town; Daughter walked the
            white stripe.

                                             Man in a pick-up truck, man in a semi, man in a Honda,
                                             man in a Mitsubishi: Hey sweetie want a ride?

            Teeth clenched. Eyes to the white stripe. One hour. Two. White-painted combat
            boots; the asphalt white stripe.

                                             Man like a dad in a Lexus: Want a ride?

            Three days later, Mother returned.


Mother: [Verb] be or act as a mother; mothered, mothering

                                             Mother: This is revisionist history. You have a terrible
                                             memory, just like your father.

                                             You were not an affectionate child. You didn't like hugs.

                                             You are my brilliant, beautiful, talented Daughter.

                                             You should call more often. I miss you.


Arielle Silver earned her MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she served as editor-in-chief of Lunch Ticket, and currently teaches as adjunct faculty. Her literary work has been previously nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets anthology, and has appeared in Lilith, Under The Gum Tree, Jet Fuel Review, Assay, Brevity, Literary Hub, and others. Additionally, she has a long history with music, and her songs have been licensed internationally for film/TV. She lives, as much as possible, in her shed, where she attempts to figure out the world through stories, songs, oddities, mind maps, and a memoir about (step)mother/ing. She's on all the socials and at www.ariellesilver.com.