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  • Maia Dunkel

You Talkin' To Me?

Updated: May 15, 2018




I had been childless for so long that by the time I had a baby at 42 it took a good while for me to get used to the idea that I was actually someone’s mother. Yes, I carried a baby in my uterus for nearly ten months. I stopped drinking, ate sushi one time, peed every hour on the hour and had my body cut open and insides moved around so the doctor could pull her out. Still, the concept that I was now a mother seemed outlandish.


It’s not that I was a mess of a person who did drugs or couldn’t hold down a job. I didn’t resemble that character in a movie who is so out of it she can barely cross the street without getting hit by a car. It’s just that for 42 years I celebrated my own mother. I did it happily and since her birthday is May 8th, Mother’s Day weekend was always her special time.


When Mila was about a week old I went to the CVS to buy vitamin e cream for my c-section scar. “Oh! Look at that adorable baby! Are you her mother?” I heard a woman ask. I kept shopping. She tapped me on the shoulder. Like Robert De Niro’s character in “Taxi Driver,” I looked around and pointed back to myself. “You talkin’ to me?” She nodded. “Yes, ummm, yes I am her mother!” I proclaimed. “Thank you!” If someone asks you if you are a child’s mother out loud in a store with witnesses, and you say yes, it must be true! I got home and stood in front of the bathroom mirror practicing like an opera singer doing a vocal warm-up.“I am a mu-mu-mu…the the the…..er er er. Muh-ther, Muh-ther.” I cleared my through and it finally came out “MOTHER!” While “I have a daughter” fell from my lips quite easily, “I am a mother” took some training. Mila’s birth certificate arrived in the mail two weeks later to hammer the point home.


Mila was almost exactly 5 months old when my first mother’s day rolled around on May 10, 2015. She did all the things a typical five-month old does: eat, pee, poop, smile, drool, and roll over. Best of all she made my heart explode. But one thing she could not do, however, was hit the local “Paper Source” and get me a card. What would mother’s day be without the obligatory card?


During my baby-thinking years, I had fantasized about waking up on that blessed Sunday to find an envelope on the neighboring pillow just as my husband was carrying in a tray of coffee, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, poached eggs with toast and a bowl of fresh berries. I thought about my spouse telling me what a good mother I was and how thankful he is for all I do for them.


I'd then wonder if I even needed the card and breakfast. A simple “You’re the best, honey!” would suffice as I sat breast-feeding and ordering groceries online simultaneously. Alas, those fantasies were never going to become real since I opted to solo parent. When you decide to have a baby on your own, you have to reset your expectations and let go of some preconceived notions.


Yesterday I went to my favorite store in Minneapolis called “Patina” to get my mother a card. It’s a little gift shop in Uptown filled with fun, unique items. As Mila and I perused the loot, I caught site of a boy and his Dad by the jewelry counter. They were clearly shopping for Mom. The boy was carefully studying the jewelry rack and pointed to a lovely pair of silver earrings. He looked to his father for approval and the Dad nodded. “Yeah, she’ll like those. Let’s get them.” I immediately teared up in part because they were so sweet together but also because I so wanted to be that Mom who was about to receive those earrings from my child and good-looking husband.


Owen (son) and Mike (Dad) Hutto at Patina in Uptown.

So is my situation a tragedy? As my senior year high school English teacher, Mr. Arthur, Neathing, taught us: “Certain stories can be very sad, even very, very bad, but they are NOT tragedies.” It’s true that being alone can suck sometimes, but so would not having my kid. I might not be a wife, but I am definitely a mother. That phrase rolls off the tongue more easily now.


On my first mother’s day, my mom, aka “Baba", drove all the way down from Minneapolis to be with me and Mila. Since breakfast was not going to served by my spouse, I headed into the kitchen to make it. I grabbed the card and flowers I got for my Mom. Lo and behold there was a vase of flowers and envelope addressed to me on the dining room table! My Mother had shopped on behalf of Mila to make my mother’s day fantasy a reality. And she’s done that every year since. One year I got a button that reads “World’s Best Mom!” The year after that I got a rainbow pin picked out by Mila. This year I got a super cool card that sings! I am so thankful to have my Mom who is not only a wonderful mother to me, but helps make my mother’s day dreams come true. There's something poetic about it being from one mother to another. I also realized that as long as my daughter is healthy and happy, that’s all that really matters. Sure, a “You’re the greatest Mom” from my wonderful spouse would be the cherry on the topping, but I am trying to lose weight as it is.


I got permission from the Mike (Dad) in the gift shop to use the photo I took of him and Owen (Son) for the purposes of this blog entry. When I got back to my Mom’s apartment, I immediately looked them up on Facebook. I needed to see the face of the woman who was Owen’s Mother and Mike’s Wife. She (Anna) is very pretty with a great smile, but what comes through most of all in her photos is the joy she gets from being Owen’s Mom.


And yeah, those earrings are going to look really good on her.



Mom proudly showing off her new countertops

Mila enjoying Baba's porch



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