Days of Our Lives
Sometimes I say it aloud, though in a whisper, the way they do on soap operas. As if the actors could hear them anyway. As if they wouldn’t just act like the replacement actor was the regular character. But saying it helps me make it real. “Today April will be playing the part of a good mother.”
Other days I actually feel it without having to say it. These are the days of cookies baked from scratch. They are just Nestle Tollhouse pan cookies, but you would be surprised how many people have never heard of them. Once at a BBQ hosted by my best friend for her new husband’s family, the retarded brother in law who loved milk and home movies asked on a reconnaissance mission for his chain-smoking, wax-eared mother if he could have the recipe. He simultaneously insisted the cookies were “from a mix.” I do not attribute his lack of manners to his being retarded. I didn’t give him the recipe though I am pretty sure it’s a matter of public record. It may even be printed on the bag on chocolate chips. I bake the cookies and play outside with my two sons on the swing set and only sneak off to smoke a couple cigarettes, answer only half my text messages and keep my F-bombs to an absolute minimum. I may even suggest a board game after dinner.
Then there are days I plan to play the role and fail miserably. There are no cookies. The television serves as babysitter and my ashtray overflows. I admit to hoping my kids don’t notice the poor substitute for a mother the casting agency has sent, that neither of them will sting me with a “what’s the matter mommy?” or worse, an “are you happy, Mom?” These are the kind of days I can only wait for bedtime to come and pray everyone wakes the following morning unscathed. I tell myself these are not the days that translate into memory, though I remember my fair share of them, a locked screen door and the smell of smoke on my mother’s breath.
April Salzano teaches college writing in
lives with her husband and two sons. Most recently, she was nominated for
two Pushcart prizes and finished her first collection of poetry. She is
working on a memoir on raising a child with autism. Her work has appeared
in journals such as Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Camel Saloon,
Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing
Tomorrow and Rattle. The author also serves as co-editor at
Kind of a Hurricane Press. Pennsylvania