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The Secret Life of Cole’s Mommy

We’re happy to tell you that we’ve managed to sneak in one last UP CLOSE motherhood post by Eliana Osborn.  Eliana worships the sun in the desert southwest.  She spends her days teaching her two young Jedi masters to only use the force for good, as well as at Arizona Western College.  She has published in Budget Travel magazine and Literary Mama, with upcoming work in The Friend and San Diego Family Magazine.

“Right this way folks, circle around the Picasso on the left.”

 I’m surrounded by a group of tourists holding museum brochures and looking anxiously up at the large painting of a blue man mournfully playing his guitar. The cold Chicago wind is far away from our entourage deep inside the Art Institute.

“As you can see, this is from the Blue period. Can anyone tell me how this is different from his later works?”

A sudden crash brings me back to the family room, where I’m building the world’s largest two-car garage out of nothing more than wooden blocks.

“The dinosaur got it, Mommy! Do it again!”

The hours of the day spread before me, endless repetitions of songs and books and ball throwing. I start to stack blocks again, this time with a plan: I’ll only use the triangle ones. My son is enchanted by patterns and it’s as though I have invented a whole new style of architecture.

The sand is blowing, scorching my face. I wipe a slow moving drop of sweat from between my breasts and try to focus on what is before me. Something is coming into focus after hours of careful excavation. I’m just using my horsehair brush now, sweeping the last bits of dirt away. The hieroglyphics are carved into the top of the casket. I take a quick photo before trying to decipher the message. We’ve been searching the area for months, looking for more than a few pottery shards. I call for my assistant, who scurries over, loudly popping gum. When she sees the massive find in front of me, her mouth drops open and stays that way. Though most of the color has faded, bits of lapis and ochre stand out in contrast to the beige everything.

  Feeling the engraved text with my finger, I begin to translate each glyph aloud.

“Mama! You didn’t say it right. You skipped a page.” Cole’s entreaties bring me back to the family room, where we’re sitting on the couch, reading about a monkey with endless curiosity. It is hot; the air conditioning hasn’t turned on. Or maybe I’m sweating because this little person is less than an inch away from me. 

We start the book again. George begins his adventure on a ship while we’re stuck here looking at the pictures of it. I glance at my son’s face while turning the page—he’s gleefully unaware of my boredom, caught up wondering what will come next for his furry little friend. With a deep breath I smile and make a suitably serious voice for The Man in the Yellow Hat.

 Cole’s down for his nap without a fuss and I pop some taquitos into the toaster oven. I flip through the latest Newsweek at the dining room table while I wait.

“Up next, women’s uneven bars.”

My hands are moist as I rub chalk on them and try to ignore the flashing cameras all around the stadium. Coach slaps me on the back with a last, “Be sure to stick your landing,” and then it is my turn. In my red, white, and blue leotard I throw my shoulders back, run, and leap up to grab the high bar. The crowd goes wild–if I do well, Team America will snatch the gold medal from the Chinese.

Spinning and snapping, I am back and forth, legs and arms switching places in an endless series of twists and turns. This is it! I nailed it! Not a single mistake. I spin around one last time before dismounting, and leap.

Smack, my butt hits the floor. The oven timer sounds and I look around confused. This is not a stadium. This is my dining room. I did not botch my landing; I just fell off my chair. 

It’s not every day I fantasize about alternate lives. Some days it is constant, especially when my toddler is feeling needy. Apparently, growing up is harsher than it looks and he needs periodic comfort. As we sit, endlessly sit, with him on my lap and nothing but soothing sounds needed from me, my mind wanders. Not to laundry or groceries or even my unfinished library books. 

In the quiet moments of sameness I transcend everything I actually know. I don’t imagine different selves, I become them. Better than a movie or book, my daydreams encompass me, however briefly. Perhaps I have an overactive imagination or am struggling with the change of pace that being a stay-at-home mom entails. But I think my active dream world is a bit more. It is the way I balance the many sides of myself. And for now, at least, it’s working.

9 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Cole’s Mommy”

  1. I wish I had an imagination like that! Instead, I escape into the blog world or cookbooks or other non-fiction books.

  2. I always thought that the secret lives of Walter Mitty and me were strictly a male phenomenon. Clearly not. What a delight, Ms. Osborn.

  3. This is a great piece of writing, Eliana. As your grandmother, I am proud of it….and I am glad that you continue to write. This piece reminds me of my years as a stay-at-home Mom.Yes, I too dreamed of many adventures-some of which came true later on. Bye from ggh

  4. My mind was taken to many places through literature while I was raising my kids. I often wonder where I could have been transported if I had had the inter-net at that point in my life. Dreams are healthy and good;, you know the saying "If mama aint' happy, ain't nobody happy." This was obviously a saying that was not edited by an English teacher!


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