I have taken to asking Zoey questions that I want her to answer with yes, because she is prone to yes. Do you love mama? I ask. Yes. Do you want to brush your teeth? Yes. Last night we sat outside to eat our dinner, enjoying the last vestiges of Indian Summer, and in between bites of her grilled cheese Zoey climbed on my lap and poked at my tummy. Thas your baby in ‘der? She asked. No, Zoey, I said, there’s no baby in there right now. But you used to live in there, in my belly. Do you remember that? I asked. Yes, she said, and scrunched in closer. Do you remember the sound of my heart? I asked. Yes, she said. Was it warm? Did you hear my voice? Do you miss it sometimes? Yes, yes and yes. And then just as a test I asked, Were there cows in there? Baby lambs? Disco lights and a fog machine? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Two days ago we were driving, I don’t remember where to. Zoey’s sippy cup fell on the floor and rolled under my seat and she screamed that she wanted it. Mama! Mama! My sippy cup! With my left hand on the steering wheel I wrenched my right arm back and around, my fingers grazing blindly at cloth, lint, the stray goldfish. I can’t reach it sweetpea, I said. But Mama! My sippy cup! And she would not stop with the screaming. I was on the freeway driving fast. I can’t get it for you right now Zo, I said. It’s not safe. Lesson one: do not reason with terrorists and two year olds. Mama! My sippy cup! Get ittttt!!!!! And I lost it there driving a tad bit over the speed limit. Through clenched teeth I spat, BUT. I. CAN’T. REACH. IT. And from there in her car seat Zoey spat back, BUT. I. WANT. IT. Surprised, I glimpsed in my rear view mirror and she was sitting there just laughing. How long do I have before Zoey answers my questions with an automatic no? Can I have a kiss? No. Did you miss me? No. Before she stops laughing? The thought. Quite simply: It breaks me. Long time readers of Petunia Face might have noticed that for the past few weeks my own mother has been missing in action. Judy of the paragraph-long comments. We got in a fight. I won’t get into what it was about, mainly because it’s over. Ish. It’s over-ish. The thing is no matter what she is my mother and I am me. We push each other’s buttons like it’s nobody’s business and we love each other even more. She is at once both too much and not enough. BUT. I. WANT. IT. And I am at once loving and hateful that she can’t always reach it. In the end the answer is still yes, always yes. I remember what it was like to be in her belly. Yes, it was warm. Yes, I heard her voice. And yes, there were disco balls and a fog machine, strobe lights, it was a party. She is a party. And yes, I still feel the beating of her heart.