The Eyes of a Mother
Memoir by Belinda M. Stoto
Every morning it’s a routine. I grind those organic coffee beans, pour my cup of coffee and add the coffee mate and sugar substitute, the latest of my doctor’s warnings to watch my sugar, though at 57 I am very healthy.
I set my cup of coffee down at my desk and workspace that I designed especially for me, myself and I. I have become myopic in a good sort of way. My workspace is where I can feel organized and where I can focus and think and … write. It also includes all types of “things,” from a glass doorknob reminding me of my real estate adventures and the 40’s and 50’s when those knobs were popular. My grandmother’s farmhouse had them on every door. I now use it as a paper weight. I have a Janome Sewing Machine that quilts as I mentally enter my gramma decade and also, many pictures and portraits, mostly nostalgic.
I write every day, making it one of my intentions to get better with practice. I write every day even if it is a one-line journal entry like … “today sucks,” “today is awesome,” “today I have anxiety,” stuff like that. I started to journal at 12 to sort these emotions I was having and it worked, so I have many, many journals that document my life, long journal entries that probably would make me sob if I reread them, but maybe not. Maybe I would feel a triumph that I survived? I will reread in my old age when I have time. Some days, I set my intentions and do my best and draft, rewrite, draft, rewrite. I have taken many writing classes to hopefully help myself find my genre; there isn’t one that I have defined so far. I do make it a point to edit my raw writing, as the rawness can be frightening and scary! I also do not want to sound flakey. We all have scattered thoughts, but many of them are meaningless and we need to know the difference. Good writing is when your work is met by another individual and they enter with their heart and mind. I do hope upon my death that my grown children understand when they find my journals that I was human with a wild imagination and anxiety disorder. You must take the good with the bad in life. I had a hard time with that … I craved the good always. I know my grown children will cringe when they read those journals. The journaling is where I could be honest, I could be real. They will understand one day, the old cliché that everyone uses, but I don’t know for sure if that is true.
I do have a favorite portrait that I glance at when I take a break from writing and look up at my wall while sipping my coffee. It is a favorite print of mine that was a gift from a friend. If it is famous, she never told me and naively, I do not know. My friend is a childhood friend; we lived completely different lives. She never married or had children. Years ago, these women were called spinsters in a negative way, but today’s spinsters have it made, they can be selfish and self-centered and fuck anyone they want without guilt and strings attached, if they are brave and support themselves.
This print, my favorite print, is a portrait of a beautiful brown-eyed women. She is a curly haired brunette, similar to myself in her hair color, with deeply set eyes. Her skin color was not mine, her skin color is milky white, my skin color is much darker. Genetic from my father and my 10% African American DNA that no one but ancestry.com knew. I laughed when I had to correct my parents. It was not American Indian as I was always told. My skin always handled the sun nicely and I never had to use too much sunscreen. A pleasant benefit in my opinion, and to this day my skin remains healthy and supple.
The lady in my portrait has milky white skin and it contrasted with her deeply set brown eyes, giving her a very tender, delicate, tired and sleepy appearance that made her look romantically and hazily happy. I insist on believing that she is a mother, as true love is captured in those eyes and it cannot be mistaken for anything else. This love is projected and is present in its purest form.
Captured in the portrait, she admires and protects the three children. They are hanging on her as if they belong to her and are her own. They nestle in next to her on a park bench, covered with a crochet blanket. It is known that most women have the amazing capacity to nurture. I will presume those children are her own.
I am comforted by this woman in the portrait. She is great company to me every morning. She shares herself with me. She shares who she is and her story a little at a time with no words at all.
In my imagination, I create her character. She is quite a lady. One with great honor. Her head is held high and slightly tilted as she gazes lovingly at the three children, different ages and genders, that share her park bench. They nestle in close under the crocheted blanket; it is if they were her own.
In my imagination, she holds herself accountable and is proud of her achievements, though many may seem petty in a modern world of self-consumed identity and consumption. She comes alive and is real to me. The position she holds requires work and the greatest unselfish sacrifice and possible denial of herself for someone else. Her big heart holds the value of her efforts while her dry eyes show a bit of sadness. I look at the portrait and stare at her eyes. She looks right back at me, like looking into a mirror. She is a reflection of myself. She stays seated on the bench with her buttocks planted and rooted for stability. She is durable structurally and balances well while the children cling to her and her bosom for survival and comfort similar to infants. The children want her full attention. She is steadfast in her celebration of life and takes her job seriously. To outsiders, her job seems easy and natural, it must be innate in some women. This quality is desirable for others, especially if they are on the receiving end. A Portrait of Perfection. The receivers can be insensitive, not knowing or aware of her struggles with esteem, anxiety, depression, confidence, or that she is wildly free-spirited and longs to be loved or awakened by the salt water waves splashing up against her naked body, giving her sensations that her body craves, similar to an oxytocin love high making her giddy as if being provoked by a secret lover. She longs for freedom that she is waiting for, and no matter what the price, her soul with lift into the air and bits of freedom are released a little at a time. This portrait is a moment in time, not the portfolio of her many faces and emotions thru the years ... that are defined by many, many moments of role playing.
So, we meet every morning and share, and I am reminded that no matter what the happiness or struggle is that day, that it is not ours alone.
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Belinda M. Stoto lives on her 3-acre organic farm in Portland, CT, where she raised three children and now cares for her two grandchildren part-time. She decided to leave the corporate world approximately 8 years ago to spend more time organic farming, developing and operating her own vending business, and to seek and explore her serious passion for writing. Her writing began at age 12 when she started to journal, finding the exercise of journaling added to her well-being and development in her younger years. The writing continued thru the years whenever she was presented with the opportunity. She presently enters writing competitions and enrolls in writing classes at the local Middlesex Community College and at Gotham Writers out of NYC, both providing excellent on-line writing curriculums. Her favorite writing includes poetry, memoirs and creative nonfiction. She has a love of nature and a personality for nurturing. Her hobbies include real estate blogging, reading, hiking, and yoga.