Hand-Me-Downs ~ Maggie Lawson

mother and child

So few memories have been written with absolute clarity. Most are faint odours, the lingering fragrance of blooms with bowed heads. The exceptions are all of you; moments carved into my bones, woven between synapses in colours as brilliant as the first day they were painted, rich with the layered scents of blossoms in full pride.

I was folding laundry and noticed the hand prints stamped in mud; the towels had hung at just the right height for you to wipe your hands on them having no regard for the effort I’d taken to wash them. I felt the frustration boil in my belly as I turned and stormed outside to find you. On the doorstep I saw you crouched over your sin and with thunder on my brow and lightning on my lips I opened my mouth to unleash a scolding storm.

You flashed a grin that halted a hurricane as it swelled your cheeks and swallowed your eyes. I folded inside and out to squat next to you, brushing rebellious curls from your forehead as you continued your crafting. Your little hands slapped at mud to flatten and round it before puncturing the surface to embed daisy eyes above the lopsided daisy smile you placed earlier. This delighted you to no end and you told me so with bubbles of laughter that begged my own.

That moment bloated my heart to such an extent that breathing became impossible and my cage ached to constrain its girth. I remember thinking if this was to be the sum of my life, the pinnacle of my existence then I am content; with our little borrowed house, simple meals and second hand clothes. I felt rich beyond compare as though I had everything anyone could hope for and more. It is the only time I have felt content, the only time I have been able to see goodness without the taint of my insufficiency and that memory is my redemption from despair.

I think of that memory now as we are amidst warring words and fresh wounds and wonder if it could have been different. I certainly wish that it could have but I didn’t know what I didn’t know and now that I have eyes for truth I can’t help but grieve they didn’t come sooner.

I need you to know how sorry I am. If I had understood the gravity of not dealing with my trauma sooner, then I have to believe I’d have done more, fought more to heal. And, in truth, I don’t know to what extent I could’ve changed but I would have fought harder to exist outside of myself and my history, to show you the hugeness of my love for you, the importance of your love in saving me every single day.

I need you to know that you were my first love, my first real understanding of what it is to love and be loved and although I’ve made a right mess of showing it or even getting you to believe it, please, please, know it’s true.

Looking at you now, the beautiful woman you’ve become; I am in awe of your ability to make greatness from the strife I gave you and know that you’re strong, not because of me but in spite of me. I can only hope your patience is as enduring as my love for you and that there will come a day where you feel the heft of it as keenly as I feel yours.

©All original work copyright Maggie Lawson 2018


Maggie L. chews crayons here: The Art of Chewing Crayons

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17 thoughts on “Hand-Me-Downs ~ Maggie Lawson

    • I really appreciate you saying so TSIB. I’ve always felt that my children gave my trauma purpose; they were an opportunity to write a new narrative and I did.
      As a parent (and you’ll appreciate this) we are never free of guilt no matter how well we raise our kids. Ironically, to have done better by them I’d have needed to be more selfish as there is a profound truth in that flying safety message of putting the oxygen mask on your face first in order to best serve your child’s needs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand what you are saying. My daughter gave purpose to everything for me. Before she was born I was selfish and self destructive. I think it’s safe to say that little girl saved my life. So I owe her a debt far beyond the typical parent/child relationship. I just hope I can always live up to that responsibility.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Maggie you know from my impatience to post this that it is a special piece for me. I’ve already read it numerous times. It is the most beautiful epistolary i’ve read. And it comes at a time when i really needed to read something of this magnitude. I know how important it was for you to write this. Thank for sharing it with us. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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