What I Have Now
Things I used to have: A tidy resume. Unfettered relationships. Nice hair. A paycheck. An almost complete disregard for anyone besides myself. A fully intact perineum. Steadfast opinions on child rearing. A self-regulating internal body temperature. A vague disdain for that mother who would “work from home” on Fridays even though our office did not have an established work-from-home-on-Fridays policy. An unwavering reverence for that old chestnut of the capitalist patriarchy, “I can have it all!” The slightest idea of who I am, or who I will become. Things I have now: A baby. — Lesley Foster
Waiting for Frieda
After everyone had gone to bed, my 96-year-old Aunt Frieda would slip on her red, high-heel slippers, peek out of her nursing home door and run naked to her beloved Shottsy, a fellow resident. In her mind he was my Uncle Joe, her husband who died 30 years before. Shottsy would expect my aunt’s visits, lying under his covers in anticipation. One night Aunt Frieda surprised him. Shottsy shrieked when she arrived. Aunt Frieda had the cake frosting from her dinner tray spread across her breasts. The nursing home called me with concern. Aunt Frieda insisted it was their anniversary. — Maya Balle
“Love Is My Husband Rubbing My Mother’s Feet”
The most grueling, rewarding and loving act you can perform is to help keep someone alive. When I found the love of my life, he immediately signed up for this journey. We knew we would do everything we could to care for my mother and, eventually, we would watch her die. For us, love isn’t chocolates and date nights and expensive trips. Love is my husband rubbing my mother’s feet after her bath, making her laugh as he pretends she is kicking him in the stomach, helping her take her medicine and holding me after she was gone. — Jessica McLean
“A Breakfast Betrayed”
We had been married just a few weeks. I used up the last of the milk one morning and left for work while my husband was still in the shower. I returned that evening to find an art installation on the table, labeled in neat handwriting on a folded-over notecard: “A Breakfast Betrayed. 1993. Wheat on ceramic.” Next to it was the bowl of cereal my husband had poured for himself — sitting milkless. For more than 25 years, we have continued to treat domestic annoyances with humor. Our love has lasted; but even better, so has the fun. — Mary Janevic
New Announcement, New Name, Still Ours
When you were born, we sent announcements — name, weight, date — engraved on thick white cards with pale pink stripes and polka dots. “It’s a girl,” we said. We were thrilled. Now, 16 years later, so much is new. The pink was wrong. The name was too. This time, we know. It’s a boy. There will be no pastel stationery. This time, we are telling everyone, face to face. He’s ours. — Maria Blackburn
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