Getting Real with Amy Larson
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat proud of myself for producing two sons right off the bat.
Sons for a husband’s family that had mostly daughters. The ExMan was the youngest of five, and the only son, and yes, he got spoiled. ExMan was the only son of an only son, who was the son of an only son. A huge deal was made over him being the last of his line.
My father’s first marriage had produced two daughters; his second marriage had produced five. No sons in sight. True to both Murphy’s law and life, his younger brother got himself three sons right off the bat.
Living for years with a multitude of sisters wasn’t always a great time; they stole clothes, hogged the mirror, and were overly dramatic. By the time I moved out of the house, I was ready for the break.
I liked having sons; they made nifty mouth noises and weren’t high maintenance. If they were mad, instead of holding a grudge, they’d just bash each other over the head with something and be done with it. Quite frankly, I admired that. Let ’em know how you feel about ’em and move on.
But the time came when I began to wish for a little more estrogen in the household; my overdose from living back at the original family home had worn off. It was time; and I wished for a daughter in the worst way.
One day while I was standing at the sink doing dishes, I felt the strongest impression that I would have a daughter.
Nine months later almost to that day, I was giving birth to a child that had no use for ‘waiting’. She shot into this world so fast, it took two doctors to deliver her (the one didn’t get out of bed when he should have, and came running around the corner at top speed at the last moment, hair flying out from under the surgery cap and bug-eyed; I would have laughed out loud, if only I’d not been giving birth.)
—She even cried like a girl! Everything about this child was so feminine, so girly. I was back in my element again. Right ON.
Her father insisted that she was ‘just like me.’ Other than the fact that she was a female, I didn’t see a resemblance. All features belonged to his side of the family. As I curled her hair and accessorized her to no end, he claimed that she was becoming more and more like me, and did so with a growing tone of disdain, insisting that she was developing my attitude. I thought, Hmmm.
I credited his comments to his history and left it at that.
ExMan began to point out what he thought were Sneaky Things about our daughter. It was true that when I told the kids to clean their rooms, the boys would moan and groan and eventually get the job done, while Sis would smile sweetly up at me with her round face and blue eyes, framed by her blonde locks and say, “Okay, Mommy! Anything to make you happy, Mommy!” Then she’d promptly go and stuff everything into her closets and under her bed.
As the ExMan pointed more and more things out, I became more and more defensive over this one and only daughter of mine. We sometimes argued about who knew her better; I felt that as her mother, that person was me.
One evening, as we were getting ready to lie down in our bed, the ExMan got a tiny shock. Lying on his pillow, practically smiling up at him, was a soaking wet washcloth. My words were feigning sympathy as I turned my head to laugh. What fresh evil was this?
I was sure there was a good explanation.
ExMan blamed Sis. I balked at him. What looked like paranoia was now getting out of hand. To blame a little five year old for something so—well, weird—was strange in itself. When questioned, Sis very sweetly said that she loved her daddy, and asked why she would ever do such a thing. Exactly what I thought, too. Innocent.
For years afterwards ExMan would not let the ‘Washcloth Incident’ die. The story was brought up repeatedly through clenched jaws and pointed finger with the phrase, “You KNOW she’s got it in her. She’s your little apprentice, after all.” I thought that was unkind. I knew my daughter, and from the bottom of my heart, I knew that she was capable of no such deed.
Time went by and many things changed. Eventually I took our children and moved out of the house. A divorce ensued.
We felt snug in our new little haven; no yelling, no discord; no more waiting for the other shoe to drop. We began to relax. Since all of the children had the need to debrief, we had some long talks about what had transpired over the period that we’d lived at the other house.
One day while talking to Sis, I said, “Remember that time you got accused of leaving a sopping wet washcloth on a pillow? That was the craziest thing I’d ever heard of!”
Sis was regarding me differently all of a sudden, wearing a curiously twisted-up face.
“I did it,” she said. “It was me.”
My mouth must have formed a perfect “O”.
“…I remember I was five and he told me ‘no’ to something I thought he should have said ‘yes’ to, and he made me mad and so I put that soaking wet washcloth right there on his pillow.”
I was stunned into silence. “W-What?” I croaked out. “I DEFENDED you all of this time, and you’d actually DONE that?”
“Yeah,” Sis said quietly, putting her head down in what looked like shame.
“What on EARTH would possess you to DO something like that? How evil does a kid even have to BE to come up with something so—well, WEIRD—!?”
She kept her head down and we had a moment of silence as I allowed her some time to think about what she had done.
Then I started to laugh.
Like a madwoman.
Sis’s head snapped up, and she appeared to be stunned.
Then we high-fived.
I was back with my kind, all right.
Bring on the estrogen, baby.
I just love having a daughter.