Her Reflection

silver-1 SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent


She walks along the dunes. There had been very little time away from others. So very few opportunities to be alone. She needs this more than air.

Morris agreed to keep an eye on the children. They were not enthused.

“He’s boring, Mama!” Ethan complained.

“Yeah, and his breath smells!” Lilly pouted.

“You don’t have to kiss him,” she replied. “And if you are bored, I can leave you some chores.”

They skulked away, displeased, but there was nothing for it, grumpy neighbor-as-babysitter or not. She knew she was becoming increasingly impatient. She did not want to cross the line into unkind.

It wasn’t their fault that Paul left. It wasn’t their doing that their dad did not see fit to shoulder any responsibility. She knew they missed him. He didn’t even think of calling on their birthdays. She knew Ethan cried for his dad in his sleep.

She almost took them with her to the dunes. Almost made it a family outing. Lilly loved running in the sand. Ethan’s eyes always lit up at the space. Like her, he loved the breeze and silence.

But she could not. Not this time.

This time she needed to replenish. For herself. For them. They needed a sane mother. She was running low on how.


She walks and breathes and ruminates and lets the worries and the sorrows stream out and flow down her cheeks and neck and chest till they evaporate.

There was a time she had hoped to have a house on the dunes. There was a time she had a dream of living in the solitary calm of gulls and tides and estuaries.

It wasn’t that she regretted having the children (marriage was a whole other story, given what non-partner Paul turned to be). She did not. Not once. She couldn’t imagine her life without them. Just for this morning, though … she needed to let be a part of herself that did not have them in its center.

She walks as if in daydream. The light shimmers and the estuary glints silver in the shrinking distance. It gives her peace. A reminder of how every stagnant-looking pool may in fact be only a pause in flow.



For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge



35 thoughts on “Her Reflection

    • Thank you, Sue!
      Perhaps especially apt these times, when so many have had so little time for themselves, in a time that called on more reserves than most usually have to call on …
      And, yes, taking care of the caregiver is always an important part of “good enough” care-giving.
      I’m glad the neighbor agreed to help. It is all we can do, sometimes: ask for help, and be willing to receive it.


  1. For someone who has no children, you sure have captured this need for mothers to step away from mothering. They need to learn that their mother needs this time away so that she can come back fully charged and enthusiastic again.
    My sister used to “go to the pharmacy” – took her over an hour and half to do all the aisles and just breathe!! It’s become a joke in our family. Course, she had her eldest who was all of 15 months when the twins arrived. We are all lucky she even came back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dale! πŸ™‚
      I’m glad I captured the essence of it. I’d had a taste of that when I was both mommy and daddy to six children between the ages of 8 and 1 … for close to the whole summer, when their mother was accompanied by the father for some medical treatment out of the country. Did I mention four of the six got chicken pox and none of the six had day camp? Oh, and no disposable diapers, either? πŸ˜‰ So, while this was time-limited, and I came with years of experience from being a baby-sitting aunt since age 10… this was certainly a concentrated taste of the need for breath that I am sure many parents feel. Fortunately, I had help nearby if I needed a hand, as I needed during an emergency when the youngest, barely just toddling, had her elbow dislocated when a sibling helped her walk up a stair…. No one can do this ‘well enough’ all alone, or at least, not without the possibility of someone keeping an eye while one needs a break.

      And … yes, children must learn that parents are people, too, and that they have needs, and that those need to be respected … Even as they need to know that they have someone to go to, no matter what. Why it takes a village, eh?

      I know some other parents who ‘go to the pharmacy’ (in one variation or the other…). One of my sisters had twins, and then within less than 11 months, another baby … Fortunately, we lived nearby, but I still don’t know how she managed … and, yeah … isn’t it amazing that most parents somehow do return? πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh. Em. Gee.
        I take it back.. You are an honorary parent since the age of ten!!!
        Good gawd, woman!
        My sister thought it was good that I lived nearby, too.
        I can’t even…
        You are my hero, Na’ame!

        Liked by 1 person

      • πŸ™‚
        To clarify … I wasn’t ten when I was double-parent for the summer, though I wasn’t quite another full decade older yet – I believe it was a few months into 19 …
        And … yes, it is good when people live nearby … because help is good …
        Yay to honorary parent!

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL. Well, thankfully, I love little kids and always had. Can be evidenced in my work choices … (or I’d be a masochist, which I am NOT…). So, yeah, liking kids helped, as I don’t know that as a child I’d had a lot of choice about babysitting or not … but it is always fab when it aligns with one’s personality. And I’m to this day a melt-on-site person when it comes to babies (I’m that person who really DOES want to see all the baby photos in your wallet/phone… and the latest silly thing your toddler did and so on…), and am a play-on-demand person when it comes to kids, and generally just enjoy spending time with them. When we go out (well, in the era when going out with friends was a ‘thing one did’) my friends know that if there’s a kid in view, I’m likely to have at least some level of divided attention … I’ve been known to be the one who offers to rock crying babies on airplanes (I’m pretty good at calming them, so that helps) or to not mind sitting next to a family with kids AND ending up helping to open milk boxes, playing tic-tac-toe, having little legs and arms draped across me knee, and keeping an eye on a sleeping little one while the parent goes to the loo. So … yeah, I’d say that it is pretty safe to say that under any other circumstances I’d probably have a few (in my humongous family ‘a few’ is a flexible number … ;))
        As things have it, I’m Aunt Na’ama to the lot (and then some). πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is fabulous. Honestly. How important is it to love what you love to do? I actually envy you your assurance that you have ended up exactly where you should.

        Liked by 1 person

      • πŸ™‚ thank you, my friend! I count myself as exceedingly fortunate, for there were many other places I could’ve ended, which would’ve been exactly NOT where I should’ve.
        I’m also fortunate in my friends.
        Like you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s great when we know what we want. I think when you have. Good idea, you focus your energies towards the right potential paths.
        Aww. You are so sweet. You’ve become rather a lovely friend to have!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah … I’m not sure I could say I KNEW what I wanted when I was young, but somewhere my life so far led me along the swirly path in the general direction of where I needed to get, and did so overall in a ‘good enough’ way, and in many ways in a ‘more than good enough’ way. It is a blessing. A real one.
        Here’s to lemonade.
        XOXO to ya, my friend,
        Your NYNF


  2. As a mom that is an empty nester now, I can relate to this. I still feel the need to unwind at the beach and bring a new perspective to myself. I never thought to take time for myself like that though. I’ve made up for that in the last few years. πŸ™‚ Well written and perfect for the prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

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