From the mouths of babes

My kiddos, CJ, age 11, and J, age 15, and I had an honest conversation. I asked them questions without prompting and here is what they think of their mom.

Me: What is something I say a lot?
CJ: Yes, I love you.     J: Damn it.

Me: What makes me happy?
CJ: Me     J: Scottish men

Me: What makes me sad?
CJ: When I’m gone     J: School

Me: How tall am I?
CJ: 5’4″     J: 5’4.5″

Me: What’s my favorite thing to do?
CJ: Binge Hallmark Movies     J: Look at kilted men on the internet

Me: What is my favorite food?
CJ: Eggs     J: bread

Me: What is my favorite drink?
CJ: Water     J: Wine

Me: If I could go anywhere, where would it be?
CJ and J: Scotland

Me: Do you think you could live without me?
CJ and J: No

Me: How do I annoy you?
CJ: I don’t know that I want to roast you, Mom
J: By insisting you’re 5’4.5″

Me: What is my favorite TV show?
CJ: Big bang theory      J: Scottish porn (Outlander)

Me: What is my favorite music to listen to?
CJ and J: Classical music

Me: What is my job?
CJ and J: Teach ESL

Me: How old am I?
CJ and J: 38

Me: What’s my favorite color?
CJ and J: Blue

Me: How much do you love me?
CJ: More than the sky     J: (hides in closet)


I used to feel weird when I’d curl up and hide

From the fear of the past, the horror inside.

To find a dark corner where no one could see

Where no one could find me and I could just be.


I never knew when they’d come along.

Would I be eating, talking or listening to a song?

Memories’d flash up in waves, that horrific past

Seconds to hours, I never knew how long they’d last.


It’s been three years since I’ve been swept away

Seeing the rot of humanity, smelling the stench of decay.

The memories are there, I can see them still

But their power has lessened, they only maim, not kill.


But courage and bravery,  and strength are no match

For the doubt, guilt and shame whose weight have attached

To the stigma of abuse and those who survive

Those women and children who make it out alive.


Because years later I still question God’s grace.

Am I good enough or do I have to earn my place?

But slowly I’m learning my worth is inside

Where good and bad have learned to live side by side.










Mom of the Year

15 y/o: Grandma said we can spend the night, and she’ll bring us back tomorrow afternoon sometime. We’re leaving in an hour.

Me: Really? That’s so awesome! You’ll both be gone for a whole day.

15 y/o: Hey! What the heck?

Me: I mean, I’ve got a lot of important stuff to do.

15 y/o: ….

Me: Fine. Imagine I said something that doesn’t make me sound like a complete jerk.

15 y/o: You love us and will miss us.

Me: Sure, let’s go with that.


Here’s a picture of my important stuff.




I start a lot of stories. Some are to express a feeling in a moment and once the initial need has been itched, I abandon the story. Some stories are left unfinished because of lack of time or ideas. This one was put aside because after writing a descriptive exposition, I had forgotten how I was going to continue. Maybe I will take it up again. If I can determine what is going to happen, that is. 


There was a booth set up at the fair one year, a small tent set apart from the others. Its edges were ragged and the stripes, once a brilliant blue and green had faded over time until the blue and green wove in and amongst each other until it was impossible to tell where one color ended and the other began. A small handwritten sign, almost obscured by the large, overgrown bushes which dwarfed the tent, welcomed all those who believed to finally see.

Curious as to what the cryptic sign meant, my friends and I paid the admission and waited within. It was cramped inside the small tent, and despite the heat from the electric fireplace humming in the corner, I remained chilled to the bone while my two friends removed their jackets, hats and gloves, shedding them much as a snake would its skin until the floor was littered with garments. 

While the other girls chatted in hushed voices, I looked around the tent at the meager furnishings, the worn fabrics draping the sides of the tent from floor to ceiling and the various photographs lining the wall and cluttering the tables. From the corner of my eye, I saw a blur of movement, but when I turned there was nothing there but the gentle swish of the fabric as it moved in time to the swaying of the tent.

That’s when I saw it. Off to the corner and almost obscured by a long drape of fabric, a tall, round table stood apart from the rest. In the center stood a single wooden picture frame, devoid of any photo. It was odd, the empty frame, and I reached to examine it in more detail when she walked in.

She was a small woman with deep brown eyes and curling black hair which hung down to the middle of her back.  Faded denim jeans clung to her hips and thighs and she wore a worn, blue, cotton t-shirt which proclaimed ‘I’m psychic. I knew you’d read this.’ When I looked down, I was surprised to find her barefoot in the middle of November.  The small toes which peeked out from the edges of her jeans were painted a startling purple and adorned with small, metal bands, the only jewelry she wore.

Walking past us, she approached the large, circular table dominating the room. From underneath, she rummaged in a storage container of sorts and soon items appeared on the table: a camera, several small fabric bags, a candle and a crystal ball. She arranged her odd assortment of items on the table, and, as a finishing touch, lit the single candle. When the warm glow of the fire flickered and took light, her back stiffened and her arms stilled at her sides.

“We have company,” she whispered. Her eyes scanned the room but seemed to pass right through us. Before any of us could speak, she motioned to the chairs circling the table. “Please. Sit.”

(C) Sara Ackerman, 2018

The Perfect Girl

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I cut open a Barbie when I was seven, peeling apart her chest cavity as she lay there smiling up at me, her vacant blue eyes offering no reproach nor encouragement. The scissors rent her body in two and I was surprised to find her empty. I asked my mother why she didn’t have a heart.

Economics. It was cheaper to build a mold with a hollow inside than to include human-like organs, especially as they were inside were no one would notice.

I was crushed. How could someone with such a vital personality be hollow? Mom explained it was my imagination that brought her to life, that I controlled who and what she was. Such control held no appeal for me, so I put my dolls away that day and focused on achieving the dreams I had enacted for my doll.

Perfect grades.

Perfect job.

Perfect house.

Perfect family.

I cook and clean, read and write, dance and sing, support and nurture, provide and improve, teach and assess, exercise and motivate, advocate and serve, invent and create, calm and soothe, build and repair, and I do it all with a smile on my face. I am as perfect as an imperfect human can be.

I wonder what my seven year old self would find if she cut my chest open. Would I lie there with a vacant stare, a smile plastered on my face as the scissors tore through sinew and bone or would I fight against the intrusion, screaming proof of my humanity even as my chest cracked open to reveal a hollow nothingness?



Bucket list by ages 10-18

In honor of summer, my daughters and I create a list of items we’d like to do or experience before school starts again. We call it our summer bucket list. I’m a list maker from way back and find a secret thrill in writing recently completed items on my list just for the pleasure of immediately crossing them off. Yes, I’m one of those. In the spirit of bucket listing our summer plans, here’s a look back at my top 10 between ages 10-18.

1.Marry Kirk Cameron or Michael J. Fox.

Apparently neither man got the memo they were slated to be my groom because they have both been married for almost 30 years TO OTHER WOMEN. Their publicists obviously diverted my letters and thwarted a timeless romance. Or a really short one given I was 9 when Michael J. Fox married, and most states do not endorse child marriages that young.

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2. Live in a mansion with ‘help.’

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Because who wants to do chores or share space with siblings? Needless to say, I have never lived in a mansion nor will I. Too much work to maintain.

3.Be a millionaire (obviously if I’m going to live in a mansion).

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I earned less than $5 a week in allowance. What was I thinking?

4. Have my first kiss.

I think I was 13. It was memorable for its wetness. ‘Nuff said.

5. Go on a date with my crush.

My crush wasn’t interested so I settled for my crush’s friend. The movie was horrible and the handsy groping was uncomfortable. After that, I didn’t date much in high school.

6. Be a model.

Considering I was shy and awkward, I don’t know how I thought this one was going to happen. Despite having an hour glass figure by the age of 16 (36, 34, 36) and a propensity for blushing when someone stared at me, I did manage to model a green nightie and feather boa** in my sophomore year production of L’il Abner where I played Stupifying Jones, the sexy robot who stupified men with a swish of her hips.

**Who puts a 16 year old in a nightie and sends them on stage?? Who? There are photos of me in the yearbook, and my school frequently posts old photos on the website to share our school’s pride. I work in my old district and have established myself as a serious professional. I can not have pictures of me in a nightie surfacing for all to see. Lord love me. Why did I want to be a model?

7. Learn to drive

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My mom taught me until I accidentally pressed the gas instead of the brake and nearly put a hole in the garage door. Then my dad took over and he taught me on a stick shift. After months of lectures, a string of cursing and a lot of crying (sorry dad!) I got my license. It was many years later, though, that I consistently remembered the art of turning off the headlights, filling up the gas tank before it’s empty and not locking the keys in the car.

8. Graduate high school.

Not to date myself, but that happy event happened in 1997. (Though dating myself would have been preferable to the awkward grope fest I was subjected to in the 8th grade).

9. Get accepted into a good college and win some scholarships.

I was accepted into Beloit College, a small, private, liberal arts college in beautiful southern Wisconsin, and won a $24,000 academic scholarship (to offset the cost of the $30,000 annual tuition cost). Woohoo!

10. Go to college far from home.

Beloit is 40 miles from my home. I went anyway.