Line Upon Line: An Old Woman’s Diary by Allison Kohn

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Allison Kohn

Happiness is a perfume you can’t pour on others without getting some on yourself.”

Mother’s Day, May 3, 1990.

Church services have always been important to me and I was looking forward to the fellowship, but today was a calamity. The whole church seemed to be separated from me today.

There are many reasons this Mother’s Day has been a hard one for me. One is that I am extremely tired and the day started out as an insult to me because I was told the nursery that I had cleaned and disinfected two months ago was “really clean now” because Sheryl had done it over. I went into the nursery and told the Lord I had done it for him. I knew he saw the job I had done was good and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, so I felt better.

But self-pity hangs on to threads.

When the service started I was reminded of the absence of my children and my mother and how alone I was. I don’t do well alone. I need to be part of a unit. Everyone needs time alone, but we weren’t meant to dwell alone. I wasn’t supposed to function in a solitary state.

Once I was a mother of seven children. Now I don’t know how many to say I am the mother of. Jimmy and Alice died when they were toddlers and Joey was taken away from me before he could crawl, but they are still my children in my memory. How many grandchildren do I have? I don’t know.

Do I hold my precious little Jenny Joy close to me only in my heart and never mention her with my lips? I “mothered” her for nine months and they said, “You will always be her grandmother,” but I haven’t seen or heard from her in about six years. What about step-grandchildren? So I count them as mine? I mothered their parents, but do I have sixteen, or just seven grandchildren?

I wasn’t the only woman this morning who felt out of place and unhappy. Sheryl was feeling pretty disconnected herself. I called her and told her I appreciated her and the job she was doing as an unmarried Christian mother. She said she was surprised I could read her so well. We both felt better and I’m glad I called.

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