Protecting Her
Author:Allie Everhart

“Where’s the kitchen?” She slowly stands up.

“Right this way.” I take her in there. I have empty bottles lined up on the counter, next to the container of formula.

“You take him.” She hands him to me. “I’ll get the bottle.”

I watch as she prepares it.

“Have you given him a bottle yet?” she asks, screwing the top on it.

“No. The nurses did, but I didn’t.”

She notices the family room off to the side and says, “Go sit with him over there.”

I do as she says, taking a seat on the couch. I turn the TV off. Garret is crying now, his face getting red.

My mother comes over, a kitchen towel in her hand, which she sets on my shoulder. “You’ll need this in case he spits up. Now lift him up slightly.”

She hands me the bottle and continues to give me instruction, including how to burp him. I learned all of this in the classes but it’s good to have someone actually here, making sure I’m doing it right. And I’m shocked that that person is my mother. Completely, utterly shocked. The woman is not the nurturing type at all. I certainly don’t remember her that way. I guess that’s not entirely true. There were moments where she expressed care or concern, but they were fleeting moments. I’m not saying she was a bad mother. She just wasn’t someone who gave hugs or tucked you into bed at night. She kept her distance. As long as I was healthy and growing, she felt she was doing her job as a mother. And she always protected me from my father, standing up to him if he ever even considered hitting me. Unfortunately, she wasn’t home that day he took me outside and beat me, but when she found out about it later, she made sure it never happened again.

After Garret’s feeding, we go upstairs and I put him in his crib. He’s knocked out after eating. I give my mother a brief tour of the upstairs, then the downstairs, and then we sit in the family room again.

“Do you need to be getting home?” I ask her. It’s now seven, and she usually doesn’t stay out this late without my father.

“I brought my things.” She smooths her short blond hair. “In case you needed me to stay in the guest room.”

“Oh, yes, that would be good.” I’m shocked once again. She’s willing to stay here overnight? In this house, which she doesn’t approve of? “I’m glad that you’re staying, Mother, but won’t Father be upset?”

“I left him a note. I’m sure he’s found it by now.”

“A note. Why didn’t you just tell him?”

She straightens up. “Your father and I are not speaking right now.”

“How long has that been going on?”

“A month, perhaps? I’ve lost track of how long it’s been.”

A month? They haven’t spoken for a month? They’ve never gone that long without talking.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t ask, but…what is the cause of your argument?”

“You,” she says simply. “I want my son back and your father is too stubborn to accept you back into our lives.”

“It’s because of Rachel, isn’t it? He’ll never accept her. You don’t either, do you, Mother?”

She sighs. “I have nothing against the woman. She seems intelligent and I’m sure she treats you well. But she doesn’t fit in our family, and you knew that and married her anyway. Obviously, I wish you had married someone else, but it’s too late now and I feel the need to move on from this and move forward with our lives.”

“I agree, but Father doesn’t feel the same way.”

“He’ll have to get over it. This has gone on long enough and I will not allow it to continue. You’re our only son and we haven’t spoken to you for a year and a half. I had to find out about Rachel’s pregnancy from Victoria. Do you know how humiliating that was? Victoria Sinclair knows before I do?”

“I would’ve called you, but you wouldn’t accept my calls.”

“I wanted to, but your father wouldn’t allow it.” She quickly shakes her head, like she’s shaking him from her mind. “But now we have this beautiful grandchild and I am not going to miss out on his childhood. I don’t care what your father says. I am not listening to him when it comes to this.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard her this angry. She usually doesn’t show emotion, especially negative emotion.

“Have you tried talking to him about this?”

“Of course. We’ve had numerous arguments, but they never go anywhere. You know how stubborn he is.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“That is not your concern, Pearce. I will deal with your father. We are going to be part of your life again, whether he wants to or not.”

“I don’t want him to be part of my life if he’s not going to treat Rachel well. She’s my wife and I will not allow him to treat her poorly and put her down.”

“I can only do so much when it comes to him. I can’t control the words that come out of his mouth. But I will do my best to make him be civil to her.” She pauses. “Speaking of your wife, what happened to her? You said there was a problem during the delivery?”