"Exhibiting You" - Story

Mother Knows Best

By: PensiveGem
Submitted: 04/12/2009

Her eyes resembled large, brown olives with pupils of tired red beads floating independently in front of her face. Swollen, exhausted and revealing, she wondered if they'd ever go back to the almond shape they once were. But this happened each time she cried, and each time they'd melt right back into soft brown petals, matching her long, dark hair that she now wore in knots from all the pulling. She had just escaped from yet another argument with her mother.

At just twelve years old, Sofia found herself completely aware of the limitations and expectations of her gender. Sofia's mother had just finished listing her responsibilities around the house, including washing her ten year old brothers clothes, serving him dinner when he asked, and washing his plate when he was done. "He has two hands, he can do it himself," she said to her mother. Missing her face, her mother opted for the frustrated fist against the kitchen table. She wasn't supposed to talk back let alone refuse to do as she was told. "I did what I was told! I took care of the laundry of four brothers, I cooked for them, I cleaned, I took care of the house! Now you have to do the same!" her mother yelled. "But that's not fair!" she responded. "If he can do it himself, why should I..." she was interrupted by the sight of her mother lunging at her, reaching and grabbing her hair, pushing her towards the couch. "There's no need for that, Maria, let the girl go," pushed her step father. Her mother redirected her anger towards him. "Don't tell me how to discipline my own daughter!" she barked. Frustrated, she stomped away to her bedroom where she would lay with the covers over her head, waiting for her daughter to come over and apologize. But Sofia refused to apologize. Angry herself, she raced off to her bedroom to finish crying.

Wiping her tears, Sofia stared at her face in the mirror, examining all the anger sprawled out in red, puffy circles. How could my own mother be so ignorant, she asked herself in frustration. Doesn't she realize what she's doing?

The next morning, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of getting ready for school, her mother stomped around in resentment, knocking things over, slamming cabinets and doors, demanding attention to her feelings. After much persuasion by her step father and brother, she offered her mother an apology. And with a half satisfied stare and tightened lips, her mother accepted. "I need you to take care of dinner tonight. You're step father and I will be getting in late from work," she said to Sofia. Sofia nodded. "And I need you to take care of the dinner dishes for tonight," her mother said looking at Sofia's brother. Sofia and her brother both looked at each other and then looked back at their mother. She was turning away and about to walk out the door when Sofia said, "Thanks, ma'."

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