The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Wallpaper Flowers Childhood Memories

My boys are breathless as we burst into my mother’s house after a day of travel.  Every five minutes the question was the same. “Were you a little girl at grandma’s house?” Their faces almost split with delight when they hear the same answer over and over.  They are incredulous at the thought. 

They race up the stairs and I am hot on their heels.  We survey my old bedroom as if it is an architectural find of monumental significance.  Little voices squeal with excitement like archeologists discovering new species. “Was this your bed, Momma?” “Did you play here?” “Where are your toys?” 

As we tour I see nothing familiar remains except my matching white little-girl chest of drawers and bedside table. I slowly run my fingers over the wood and am startled by the familiar roughness of the chipped paint.  It is only then I notice the walls are white; the wallpaper with the yellow stripes and flowers is gone.

My mother wanted new wallpaper with tiny purple flowers and I did not.  I was eleven and her choice looked like the kind of paper that belonged in the parlor of a Victorian mansion, the type of place where children were seen and most definitely not heard. 

I poured over the sample book bursting with mesmerizing patterns and colors and settled on the perfect one, a yellow stripe alternating with yellow flowers.  As a child, my father called me his little yellow canary -- I chattered non-stop and only wore yellow.  Those days were long gone, but that phrase stayed with me as an echo from a time when I imagined a new baby brought smiles and happiness to everyone.

Thinking back I am amazed I had the aplomb to stand up to Her.  I was the only one.  Everyone was afraid: my father, brother, even our minister had to tread lightly.  There was screaming and yelling and I can still remember the flash of hatred across her face as she snarled, “You’ll have to live with it, no matter how ugly it is, you’re sleeping in there not me.”  I was shaking inside, but I was observant and had learned from my father’s and brother’s mistakes – the smell of fear fed the enemy, so I met her stare and held my ground.

So up went the yellow stripes and flowers.  She only agreed to it to prove me wrong.  I am sure it would have brought her some kind of macabre pleasure to point out my error every day, especially to my friends.  But it was beautiful. The small room at the back of the house sprang to life, like there were real flowers on the walls.  And in the morning the light reflected off the yellow as if the sun had slipped in at night and whispered in my ear, “I am sorry for your troubles my dear, but here is small ray of light just for you and it will shine for you always.” 

Even she had to agree it was perfect, but somehow over the years it became her idea to go with the yellow.  But it didn’t matter because my victory was up on the wall.  She was right about one thing: living with the decision.  All these years later as I sit in the room with its’ neat, white, proper coat of paint I can still see those yellow stripes and flowers that set me free.

By Jennifer Gunter 

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This is sophisticated and wonderful writing.
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