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Contemporary Afternoon Tea

by Esmoore Shurpit about a month ago in Secrets
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Dear mom, I never told you this but...

Picture by author

Dear mom,

2018

Afternoon Tea at Lady Bedford's in 2018. Picture by author

We attend Afternoon Tea at Lady Bedford’s Tea Parlour as part of our mother-daughter outings. You were nervously suspended in a world of dainty china in a shop that held an air of aristocracy. We melted right in with the hosts’ explanation of the menu and selection of loose leaf teas. Our fingers nabbed soft scones slathered with clotted cream off the three-tiered tray that held sides of strawberry jam and tart lemon curd. We ate crunchy tempura shrimp and a variety of finger sandwiches and miniature confections. It all was topped off with sugar cubes twirled in cups of fragrant warm tea.

During the first visit to the tea parlor, I was at a different point in my life than the second time we attended afternoon tea. The first I was lonely and desperate to get out of the house. The second was an outing to get my mind off the fact my new boyfriend was spending two weeks in the field for Army training.

We didn’t know that in 2019 I would take a road trip fourteen hours away with that boyfriend who was getting out of the Army to live in his home state of Wisconsin.

2021

I sent you a picture of two positive pregnancy tests I had taken the day before for Mother’s Day. I had a physical card to send you, but I had failed to prepare to send it in time. Still, the digital picture you received you declared was the best Mother’s Day present ever.

You were finally going to become a grandma.

-

My mom walking me down the aisle, pic by Sabrina Blackburn

A couple of weeks later you walked me down the sandy aisle of my beach wedding to marry the man that had whisked me away from you in 2019. You cried tears of happiness during the ceremony.

Your baby girl was now married.

-

During the nine months of my son developing inside of me, I went through a whirlwind of emotions due to hormones. I also grieved the fact that you wouldn’t be able to spend a lot of time with your grandson. You were the only person aside from my husband that continuously stayed in touch about my pregnancy despite being so far away. When I went to the hospital to stop preterm labor you had been at work, but called and texted making sure I was okay. My heart hurt because you cared so much, and when your grandson would arrive in this world, the person who cared the most would only get to see him whenever we came down to visit.

2022

You booked a flight months early to see your grandson. But when you got here a week after my estimated due date I was still pregnant. I was scared I would still be pregnant before you left as you were only staying a week. I was already late, but the day before my next OB appointment I went into labor that night. My husband woke you up to tell you what was going on. We were all happy and giddy. I then went through 16+ hours of labor, 3+ of failing at pushing where I begged for a c-section. During labor, I regretted getting pregnant and wondered how you did it (how anyone really). How you did it twice. Your grandson was 10lbs 2oz and shared the same birthday as his father. I would go on to be in the hospital for three more days recovering from my c-section, and could only share pictures of him with you. Due to Covid protocol, my husband was my support person; thus, the only one that could be there with me. I felt awful that your time to spend with us was coming to an end, but you managed to extend your trip a couple more days.

When we finally came home you were happy to see your grandson, but also a bit timid. At first, I silently questioned your actions but realized your hesitance was understandable. Our family was small, and I was the first in a while to have a child. It wasn’t until you saw how my in-laws interacted with him that you began to get more comfortable.

And then you had to leave.

I never told you that before you left I was struggling with postpartum depression. The onset of baby blues was strong, as well as the cocktail of hormones flooding my system. I was in love with my bundle of joy, but I sat in the bathroom on the toilet crying because life was suddenly drastically different. When I took naps in the evening while you and my husband looked after the baby, I cried before falling asleep. I didn’t know how to handle it. Nothing had prepared me for it all. Emotionally I was a mess, but I put on a front when around you because I didn't want you to worry.

My son holding my finger. Photo by author

I never told you that during your grandson’s first pediatric appointment less than a week after his birth I broke down crying. The pediatrician ended up scheduling me an emergency appointment with my OB. I knew you wouldn’t understand. I know those who haven’t gone through it struggle to empathize. When my husband came back with a letter stating that he would have to stay home with me for a week, he didn’t disclose that it was because my OB had written that I was going through postpartum depression and that he shouldn’t leave me with our son alone for at least a week.

It was hard and I couldn’t stop crying. There was this whole heaviness of existential grief that came over me. It was a different kind of grief than the one that I went through after moving to Wisconsin. No, that was mixed with culture shock. Those moments had been sudden hyper-realization that snapped me out of a trance into my new reality. No– this grief came with the knowledge that I was suddenly a mother and bringing a life into this world meant that I was closer to death.

But not only me, but you and all that I knew.

-

My son’s arrival in this world also coincided with the fact that my husband was going to deploy overseas soon. That was another factor of stress added to our everyday life, along with the tumble of Zoloft down my esophagus. I thought I could do it on my own, but even the weeks where I had to because he was away doing training, I realized I couldn’t. The medication also made my brain foggy where I was in a sluggish daze for hours just staring at my son as he looked up at his toys on his activity mat. I spent weeks stressing over what to do, if I should pack up and move back down to North Carolina while my husband was away. I also hated the fact that he would miss the most crucial months of his son's development. That his son would practically be a different child when he came back. But then something inside my head clicked and after fretting over it for a while, I discussed it with my husband.

So we made a proposal for you. That you would come stay and help me out for the duration of the deployment. You would have your own room to move into, a car to drive and no bills to pay. You said you would think about it.

But you ended up quitting the job you’ve had for over ten years and moved up to live with me while your son-in-law was gone.

Suddenly my fear of you not being able to see your grandson was gone. You would be there for him, getting to spend time with him every day. You would get to see him grow.

I felt awful that you quit your job and even worse when grandma told me I was taking her daughter away from her when we video chatted. You would be leaving her with my uncles and my brother. You would be leaving our already small family behind and I felt guilty. But you made the choice, and you chose us, and I am so incredibly thankful for you.

-

Unfortunately, when I finally unveiled my struggle with postpartum anxiety and depression you didn’t understand it. You blamed the meds and said I should stop taking them and that everyone has anxiety, but that we don’t have to go through with it. I listened to you and how you thought I wanted to kill myself- which wasn’t the case at all. I understand you were probably scared after my cousin’s unexpected death that hurt us all, but I had realized with the birth of my son that I didn’t want to go through having the anxiety that I have had all my life. It was physically taxing on my body, and I was tired of it. It was already enough having a baby to take care of. I also understand that there is a lot of stigma and fear about mental health in the black community, and your knowledge of everything is rooted in that. It’s just ignorance, but I will teach you the best I can.

I never told you that my OB prescribed Lexapro to replace Zoloft. When we had to stop by Walgreens that time, it was because I had to pick up my new prescription. I didn’t tell you and tried to hide the pharmacy bag from you by combining it with the bagged hair ties I picked up for you.

The small white pill tumbles down my throat every night after I lay my son down for bed.

I never advocated for myself out of fear, but I will for my child. He needs me.

The best version of me that I can be.

Mother’s Day 2022

Photo by author

We hadn’t celebrated Mother’s Day together for three years. But this year we were able to, and it was my first as a mother myself. I finally gave you the Mother’s Day card I had been saving for a year and a framed photo of you and I that had been taken before my wedding.

You bought the flowers I said were the prettiest the day before. On the day of, we juggled making a homemade afternoon tea. One that took us to the evening hours when I substituted the bags of tea for a bottle of Wollersheim’s Blushing Rose wine. It was exhausting and I underestimated how much work went into such a meal. But we were proud of our results, and you posted the spread on Facebook.

*

Two savory French onion tarts with a thin layer of sliced Vidalia onions atop a layer of Cheddar Gruyere herbs de Provence cheese. Mini blueberry lemon scones I had finally managed to bake soft instead of dense. Your mini croissant chicken sandwiches you made from shredded rotisserie chicken and even put in Craisins when I suggested it (though you were hesitant). The boxed vanilla cake and cream cheese icing I put together topped with shredded coconut and fruit. And at the last minute, I put together cucumber sandwiches, composed of white bread slathered with a cream cheese spread composed of the addition of tangy mayo, seasoning and fresh herbs.

*

We sat and ate with my son watching in his bouncer and it was everything I had hoped and imagined even if I didn't get to use the teacups and plates I had collected over the years.

So, while you may not understand everything and what I have gone through with the birth of your grandson, that's okay. I am not angry at you for not quite understanding. All I can do is model an example with patience. You have always been a strong mother having been a single mother to my brother and me. And I know you always wanted us to grow up and be better than you. I hope I exemplify that.

Nevertheless, I love you.

Love,

Your daughter Esmoore

Secrets

About the author

Esmoore Shurpit

I like writing bad stories.

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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