Just the Parent

by Juliana Perry

In the dark I lay my hand gently down and across her round smooth cheek. The stories, the day, the experiences have been cut off quietly with the words, "Hush now, time to sleep." I lay next to her thinking about the evening and how angry she made me, when she spit at me, when she hit me, when she screamed "GO AWAY!" Here she lay next to me, a soft sigh and murmuring, "Mommy, I love you;" how that carries my heart. Twenty minutes earlier I had visions of toddler-mouth and foaming soap, tiny bruises from my fingers on her cheeks that might have been seen by the daycare lady, afraid simply of the words that can come from the young when you are as exposed as a single parent. Guilty until proven innocent, always clinging to the single parenting choices; it feels like shit on a bad day.


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