How do you solve a problem like your mother?
Erica smoothed the loose halter neck top down, stopping at her ever growing stomach and patting it with pride. A small smile began to play on her lips as she twisted her body from side to side to check for any faults within the mirror reflection staring back at her. Erica was drinking in the protruding belly, loving it more than she did, for now, it held life. She giggled slightly and began to feel a familiar sense of panic rush over her. She swallowed her smiles as she made sure her outfit was just right. Perfect.
As she fidgeted around the top a pair of hands began to embrace her from behind, pressing her close to him. Erica closed her eyes and placed one of her hands over his, feeling his kiss upon her cheek. She held him for a moment, butterflies flew in her system, just like they always did.
"hmm you look gorgeous" Patrick muttered in her ear, cooing her softly.
"Really?" Erica glanced at herself one more time, breaking away from him in worry.
"Yes really, now stop panicking its going to be fine." Patrick said somewhat rolling his eyes at Erica's subtle dismay.
"You don't know my mother.." Erica sighed. Tonight was, in her mind, an important night. For tonight Erica and Patrick's parents were over to celebrate the couple's new engagement and expecting child. However, Erica had always feared her mother's judgment and although she had met Patrick's countless amounts of times, her mother still lived in England. This would be the first time her mother had seen her in 2 years, seen her lifestyle, and met her future husband. The whole situation was daunting to Erica.
"I think I've heard enough about her...." Patrick said with a slight smirk on his face. Erica nudged him with dignity
"Yeah, but you haven't met her," Erica let out a bated breath, "trust me, this could go horribly wrong."
"But its-" Patrick was about to speak when the door bell rang, causing Erica to squeal out of panic. She pushed her hair behind her ears and clapped out of the bedroom and down the stairs of their new house together. Patrick clambered behind her, standing beside her and sliding his fingers into hers. She squeezed them gently before leaning forward and opening the door.
A chorus of "hellos" bellowed from the door as Patrick's close relatives walked through the door. A barrage of embraces and warming welcomes were exchange. Patrick could see Erica's face contort out of relief; he couldn't help but admire her for a moment before ushering his parents through to the living room.
"Erica you look gorgeous" said Ms Stump as they were walking through, "You have that natural mothers glow."
"Oh thank you," Erica said, feeling her cheeks blush out of the compliment. She leaned over to Patrick as they dwelled behind, "You see I love your mum, why can't she be my mum?"
Patrick laughed, "Because you and I would be incest, and that would be wrong."
"That is a good point," Erica pressed her lips against his and loved the heat that emanated from him. Yet in an instant she froze, the door had begun to knock, "Oh shit she's here."
"She's your mom, stop worrying,"
"That's why I'm worrying," Erica stuttered, walking fast over to the front door, taking in a deep breath before she opened the door. A breeze whittle past her, "Mum!"
"Sweetheart," came a response as Erica's mother had pulled her into an embrace, "god, I haven't seen you in years, how you've grown!"
"Thanks mum." Erica said; her voice slightly croaky from the pressure her mother was giving. Her mother broke the embrace and studied her, frowning her eyebrows.
"Have you put on weight? You look bigger than last time I saw you," her mother asked, letting Erica's confidence slip. Her mother started to walk into the living room as Erica closed the door, replying;
"Yes mum, I have, it's called being pregnant." Erica muttered under her breath Patrick could hear the frustration in Erica's tone and when Erica turned around, Patrick was sure a new glaze coveted her eyes.
"Well I don't want you being a fat mum."
Her mother was soon approaching Patrick and he let his face burst into a smile, holding out one hand "Mum this is Patrick, Patrick this is mum."
"It's nice to meet you Mrs _" he questioned taking her hand and shaking it slightly.
"Roberts" Mrs Roberts replied, "It's nice to meet you too Patrick, I hope you've been taking care of my daughter," she paused to chuckle as Patrick joined politely, "I mean someone has too."
Erica was stood behind Mrs Roberts and was making stabbing motions in the air, her eyes wide. She guided her mother to the seats opposite Patrick's mother where the two started making fast conversation between the two. Erica busied herself into the kitchen, sorting out the food for tonight, Patrick leaned against the kitchen door, watching her build up in stress;
"Erica you go sit down, I'll serve." He said walking forward and grabbing her arm. She wriggled out of his clasp.
"No no no I'm fine I'm fine," letting a bout of dizziness wash away.
"Erica. Sit. Now" Patrick said firmly, taking her to the dinning room and sitting her down next to her mother. He poured a glass of water, which shakily she downed in one. Patrick began to serve the food that Erica had been preparing all day. Erica sat quietly, unlike Erica. She conversation buzzed around her, but she could only smile and nod at any questions that were thrown into her midst. Occasionally there would be a small criticism from her mother, only small, but it dug its claws into Erica. Once the food was one the table, Patrick sat opposite her, taking her hand again, trying to calm her down. Erica watched as the company stuck their forks, taking the first bite.
"hmm this tastes wonderful," Mrs Stump said, closing her eyes to savor the taste, "Did you make this Erica?"
"Well, with a little help from Patrick.." replied Erica, not eating as her eyes watched her mother, "Mum? What do you think?"
"It's a bit dry" came the response, Erica grip on her water glass got tighter.
"Hmm, Mum would you like another glass of wine?" She leaned over and poured the rest of the contents of the bottle into the glass, shaking out the last drop of alcohol. "OH would you look at that, we've run out of wine. I best go and get some more from the shop around the corner."
"Erica?" Patrick frowned at her. "Erica are you ok?"
"We've run out of wine Patrick, I'm just going to get some more, I'll be back in a minute." And before anyone could stop her she had grabbed the keys to the car and had slammed out of the house.
"Excuse me a minute" Patrick muttered, dapping his mouth with his napkin and following her. The two women sat in an uncomfortable silence.
Erica slid into her car and shut the door. She placed her hands upon the steering wheel and leaned over it. Letting out huge sobs and tears come crashing out of her. Coming out of her system in pain stricken cries. Her emotions were in tatters, and she couldn't decide whether it was due to her mother or due to other stuff. A rush of wind came fluttering in as she heard the passenger door shut. She turned her bloodshot eyes to Patrick who was staring at her, slightly cocked to one side.
"Are you going to tell me what's wrong?" He whispered to her as began to stroke the hairs on her cheek with his hand.
Erica sighed against the caress. "Have you ever felt that there is this secret power inside you? Just waiting to come out and you can be you? Like you can be a superhero, the best superhero around?"
Patrick giggled and shook his head, "well no not really."
"I do, I do all the time, but it feels," she sighed, "it feels that every time my mother is around she is just, restricting me from reaching my full potential. Stopping me from being that superhero and saving the world. And it might just be me paranoid, but I hate feeling like that. I just want her to accept me."
Patrick let his arm wrap itself around her shoulder and she rolled into him, "Look," he said firmly, "How much do you love your mom?"
"A lot" Erica whined.
"Well that's probably no where near how much your mom loves you. You're her daughter and I bet she is so proud of you. But think of it this way, you left her, you left from under her wing and soared by yourself. I bet that scares her more than anything, you being here and an ocean separating you two. I suppose her criticisms are you moms way of giving her more control over her life, letting you know she still wants to be part of it. Showing you there's still a space for you, and there always will be. She just shows it in the only way she feels she cans."
Erica blinked at him briefly, everything he said was correct, "I know, I know."
Patrick leaned over and kissed her deeply on her lips, taking away her hurt in a moment. She moaned into his lips softly and they broke apart, staring deeply into each others eyes. Patrick let a finger stroke her lips.
"And hey, you will always be a superhero to me," he said, watching a solitary tear fall down Erica's cheek, "I love you."
"I love you too" She said, walking out of the car and she stood, covering the house with her eyes and pulling up more courage. Patrick stood beside her again, in a usual stance the couple took.
"Let's go save the day," Patrick told her, taking her hand and pulling her inside. Together, strong in unison.