In the predawn hush, I am Mother. Holding you on my chest as we rock, I am warmth and safety, and a place in memory called home.
In the harshness of daylight, I am tough. Showing black and white, silencing with a word, or a glance, or a thump on the reaching hand, I am sentinel. Movement outside restricted circles is prohibited. Arguments unheeded, cut short with choppy exhortations. Minutes are scheduled, resistance futile.
Dusk comes, and I am soft. We melt into the shadows, watching lights dance like hurried zebras on the walls. Here, I will hold your hand, smooth your hair, let you whisper past bedtime. I will read the fifth book, go for the forgotten bunny in the basement, fetch the last-minute sippy cup.
Morning comes. Barked commands are met with swift action. That harried face in the mirror is not me- it’s too brittle, too stony. I am the arbiter, the referee, the judge swift to sentence.
A glance up the stairs reveals a dropped pacifier.
And I am there, for an instant, smelling your shampoo, hushing the cars that invade your sleep.