When I was a little girl I remember my mother picking me up and putting me on the bathroom counter. She had a tray of tester lipsticks that ranged from Powder Pink to Ruby Red. My mother had callouses on her hands from the rose garden she planted in front of our trailer. We were considered trailer trash. But no one had the color of sunshine blooming against their rusted exteriors like we did. And when my mother was sane and on her medication, I felt like the princess of the park as she would one by one gloss my lips with Blossom Rose to Royal Raspberry, coloring me with her love.
In the moments of sanity my mother was the queen and her kingdom was magical. It was as if I was floating on a cloud where time didn't exist. I loved her endlessly even when she was ill. I never would have imagined that she would commit suicide and when she did my magical kingdom was crushed, she took a huge part of me with her. There was a certain ache that never left my side. I didn't think I would ever feel the love I felt with her with anyone and believe me I tried. I looked for love in all of the wrong places.
One night I found myself waking up on a bathroom floor in a dive bar in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea how I got there or how long I had been there for. I must have been sick and passed out but I couldn't figure out how my drivers license ended up in the toilet. I felt like my soul had left me and slithered down the drain with the dirty mop water that smelled like booze and vomit. This was not a picture of the little girl making Honey-suckle kissy faces that loved endlessly. The color of my lips were Venom and Spice. I was a teenage Scarlett Rose, pricking everyone that came within five feet of me, including myself.
Within time my colors and behaviors ranged from Impatient Pink to Mauve Madness to Seductive Siren. I went from one extreme opposite to the other. I lived out quite an array of colors. No matter what I was wearing I was always trying to get back to the little girl that was Pretty in Pink. I just couldn't remove the Brick Red layer. However, when I wasn't looking there happened to be make-up remover that I had never tried before. He was the one out of all of them I tried that took a tissue and gently tried to remove the layers of residue left from the pain of the lipstick stains. He had no idea what he was in for. But he was not going anywhere. He was solid.
The night before my wedding day I put all my colors out on my vanity. I tried every color I had; Amour, Cherished, Spellbound, Dream Catcher, Sweet Embrace... None of them looked like me. I didn't feel what I should be feeling on the night before my wedding. Something was missing. I ran into the hallway and cried. I told my fiancé that I didn't want to get married. I tried everything I could to make him think he didn't want to marry me. He listened and pulled me in close and said, "I'm going to marry you tomorrow" with no pain or worry in his eyes. I wore classic Kiss Me Kate the next day and married him.
The day the conversation came around on having children I turned stone cold. I never saw myself having children. I didn't find myself equipped to raise a child in this world. I wrote down my age and added a year for ten years to see how old I would be with a ten year old, how old I would be with a fifteen year old, and how old I would be with a twenty-one year. I bit my lip. Half of my life would be taken up with the responsibility of children. I looked into the mirror with no lipstick on but the color that reflected back was Raging Fear. How could I be a mother when I lost mine so young? How could I teach them and love them? Love them, that was the fear on my lips. Could I love them?
The first time I got pregnant I miscarried and it was the most piercing physical pain I had ever experienced. I crawled to the phone and dialed my husband. Like the knight in shining armor he is he picked me up off the floor and took me to the hospital. I miscarried on Labor Day. It was a sign. "I was not supposed to be a mother or love a child" I cried. My husband covered his hand over my mouth and said, "Shhh. It's ok." I let him be the one to caress and soothe, but my lipstick colored me Cursed Red.
I had to get out of my life where no make-up remover or lipstick was allowed. I did what any insane person does. I ran straight for the bus and went to Boot Camp. I pulled my hair back into a perfect bun, put on my BDU's on and ran. I ran for eight weeks in Boot Camp. I joined the Air Force and for the first time in a long time I could focus on myself and try to find out where I had gone. By the time Boot Camp and Technical School was over I had tried to erase my mind of all colors and all memories that were created by the lipstick diaries. However, no one can truly erase the pain. You have to find out why your in pain and you have to deal with your pain.
After all this time I was in pain because I had lost my mother. Even though I was 24 I still felt like a child in bed with a wet pillow crying for her to come get me. I bought a book for "motherless daughters" I got through three pages and threw it at the wall. I didn't want to go a page further recognizing myself in the truthful words of other motherless daughters, Even the fifty year old daughters were still feeling the loss of their mothers. All I wanted was to go on living life without feeling like a part of my world was missing. To top it off I could barely recognize my body - I was stationed in Tucson, Arizona and six months pregnant. There was no time to be sad about not having a mother. I was about to be one.
It was a hot night and the air conditioner had blown. I told my husband I was going for a swim. I submerged myself into the water and I swam towards the pool light. All I can remember is praying to that light for the guidance to be a good mother and to love this baby. I was so afraid that I couldn't love him like I loved my mother.
Julian Orion was born on February 24th, 2007 and I can't express how calm I was. I didn't cry. I didn't laugh or sigh or go crazy in thought about what I would or wouldn't be with him. I was just his mother. No strings attached. No worrying about anything. I knew I loved him and so did he because he had pure love for me too, he latched on and fed from my breast like he had been taught to do it in baby school in the heavens. It was love at first sight for me.
A few years later on February 24th, 2011 Rowan Juliette was born. The moment they took her from me she screamed. The nurse brought her back and the moment she was back into my arms she stopped screaming. I watched her fall asleep in my arms and I cried. Memories of my mother came flooding back. I knew my mother was sick but I couldn't fathom taking my life like she did to me. She must have been in more pain than I can imagine to leave me all alone. This little baby girl hit me in a way that words could not express until now.
Rowan is now two and Julian is six. Rowan dances to the music playing in the background, she fluffs her dress and looks into the mirror smiling and sings, "pretty mommy, I'm pretty like mommy" and she runs back to her Julian and sings it over and over again. My heart drops and I feel pain. But it's good pain. I suck it in so I don't feel it to long though. I tell the kids to get their jackets on because I have to get to work. I turn back to the mirror and grab my Timeless Rose and dab it onto my lips. Rowan tugs at my shirt and I look down to her. She has her mouth open begging for some lipstick.
I pick her up and put her on the counter like my mother did so many moons before. I asked her out of the colors that I had which one she wanted. She pointed to Primrose. I took it and told her to purse her lips. She does so without overthinking it forming a perfect rosebud for me to color. I then call for Julian and I put him on the counter and I give him his daddy's deodorant that he loves to put on.
In that moment I realized that it is possible to feel that childhood magical love again because I was magically in love with my children. I told myself that it was ok to let go of some of the sadness I had been carrying around trying to hold on to the last remains of those Strawberry Shortcake lipstick days. I realized that there was a whole brand new chapter waiting for me right here, right now.
And when the holidays sneak up like they are right now and I find myself missing my mother. I allow myself the time to miss her. I pick up my daughter and I kiss her. I hold my son and dance with him. I talk to my husband whom always has an open ear. But when it gets horribly awful I pick up my favorite color that reminds me of her (that color I keep to myself) and I purse my lips and color them reminding myself that it's ok to feel sad and miss her just as long as I remember who I am today because of who I was when I had her.