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December 17, 2013 by vh1161


Lines of mother worries run across her forehead and whisper of her three daughters, aged 12, 10, and 7.  The lines continue in silver from her temples to the split ends of her hair, the forerunners of the wisdom we are promised with age.  There are bags under her eyes and all she wants to do is sleep.  She looks older than she is.

She’s a cashier in the Smithsonian American History Museum gift shop.  Her girls love going to “mama’s museum” and walking with her through the First Ladies exhibit.  Their critical eyes dismiss the china displays (“Why are plates in a museum?”) and go straight to the inaugural gowns to pick out one for their mama.  Her oldest girl pronounces every gown inferior to that of Dolley Madison, while her middle girl advocates Florence Harding’s contribution, because “it looks like a butterfly, mama!”  Her youngest girl never bothers to choose one because her only criteria is that a gown be sparkly, and there are lots of sparkles in this exhibit.

Sonia is the daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants and the mother of girls with as many dreams as there are stars in the sky.  She wants to give them far more than she can, and that is why she leans back in such weary frustration this morning.

She once heard someone say that the sins of parents are visited on their children, playing out over generations.  She wonders, can the same to be true of their efforts at goodness, too?  Could her daily obedience to the alarm clock, her vigilance and honesty at the cash register, her refusal to live on credit even if that means foregoing luxuries — could all these things that look like monotony add up to mean flourishing for her children and her children’s children?  There is only one way to find out.


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