“Are you still breast feeding?” “My daughter is already potty trained” “Have you started solids?” The women bustle around her, enveloping her in Motherhood’s reek of Hallmark roses and lanolin. With children balanced on hips, they hand out paper plates sagging under the weight of kaali dal, rice and slices of Dora birthday cake. The men grab them without acknowledgement, mouths kept busy by sub prime woes and samosas.
“How are you liking motherhood? So satisfying no?”
She thinks of the lopsided nipples , long afternoons spent playing peekaboo, smug mothers at play groups and the distant memory of sunday lie-ins and the theatre. She smiles and nods enthusiastically.
“Which one is yours?”
She scans the room and sees him, held aloft in the arms of his father, a helium balloon attached to the loop of his pants. For a brief second she wishes it would carry him far, far away.
I wrote this some time ago for mslexia’s flash fiction column. the theme was: balloons. as you can see i was still grappling with motherhood. not that it’s any easier now.