“To My Pregnant Belly” by Tatiana Lopez
Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.
This week, Tatiana Lopez wonders where some parents go wrong.
I look at my belly in the mirror, swollen to the size of a basketball at seven months pregnant. My first child. A son. After seven months of deliberation, lists, and debates, we finally decided on a name. Henceforth, we shall call him Brandon! Even though Brandon was the name of the boy who set my hair on fire in the seventh grade and got suspended afterwards, I have no emotional hang-ups about the name. It’s still a good name.
I view my big belly from the side and try to suck it in. No dice. Brandon jabs my lower rib cage in protest. He’s grown to the point where my skin lifts and shifts as he adjusts to the shrinking space. Not unlike that nightmare scene in Alien—only he’ll come squirming through the approved orifice as opposed making a new one, chewing his way out of my body like a parasitic monster in a sci-fi movie.
I have a lot of unrealistic fears. I am aware they are unrealistic, but I entertain them nonetheless. I have a few realistic ones as well. I don’t know which category scares me more. I look at my belly during quieter times and whisper to my son, “Psst. Don’t grow up to be a murderer. Okay? Or a rapist. Or just an all-around jerk.” And I’ll do my part, I explain to him: “I promise I’ll do what I can to not damage you emotionally, okay? But please forgive me if I do anyway. For you see, you’re my first kid, and your father and I have no idea what we’re in for.”
But then I remember all the idiots, morons, and inbreds in the world who have children, and relief washes over me in an awesome, soothing wave. They all have kids, and they seem to be doing fine. But then I make the daily mistake of reading the news, and it’s nothing but: “Southside Idiot Shot and Killed Someone.” Or: “Drunk-Driving Dumbass Careened Car Into Pedestrian.” Or my personal favorite: “Total Maniac Keeps Women Locked in Basement For A Decade, Recently Caught.” And as a pending parent, I am compelled to wonder: where did their parents go wrong? Did the Southside Idiot’s mother not check his homework when he was little? Did the mother of the Drunk Dumbass not force him to eat his vegetables when he was a kid? Did the Total Maniac’s mom not spank him enough? Or way too much? Or maybe, just maybe, their parents were beacons of perfect parenting, but nothing was going to derail fate’s plan of turning their kids into drunk drivers, shooters, and maniacs. As a parent, I don’t know which is worse to bear.
I stand in the mirror and whisper to my big ol’ pregnant belly: “I’ll do my part to make sure you don’t become a murderer, a drunk driver, or a total maniac. And your father will do his part too. We can only trust you’ll do yours.”
TATIANA LOPEZ is a big-city dweller and perpetual retail drone whose writings have appeared on Thought Catalog, Examiner, and Northern Star. She is the mother of an adorable one-month-old boy who deprives her of much needed sleep, and wife to her awesome husband Mat. Her hobbies include being woken up at 2:45 in the morning by a screaming infant who wants breast milk, being a twenty-four-hour handmaiden to said infant, and Netflix.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Sep 23, 2014
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