Polish Moms

Lizy Mostowski


Generation I


“My daughter’s boyfriend is a pilot,” the married woman said boastfully, resting her worn breasts on the dining room table.


“We just moved into a four-bedroom house,” the visiting woman said.


“Children on the way?” the married woman asked, winking at the visiting woman and her partner.


The visiting woman laughed. “I don’t know what we’re doing for New Year’s Eve. We’re invited to a friend’s cottage near a ski hill,” she said to the young woman beside her.


“That sounds like fun,” the young woman said.


“You’re thirty-two, are you thinking about having kids?” the married woman asked.


“We’re not sure if we want to go, they have a screaming baby,” the visiting woman said.


“Oh,” the young woman said.


“You have four bedrooms to fill,” the married woman said.


“Honey, do you want to spend New Year’s with a screaming baby?” the visiting woman asked her partner.



Generation IIA



“My daughter, you know, she’s got that attitude, she’s young, she doesn’t care, you know, she tells her boss what she really thinks,” the woman said.


“As she should,” the young woman said.


“You know, a guy who does a lot less work than her gets paid five grand, five grand, more than her a year. And you know how she found out? She asked the secretary.”


“Did anything happen?” the young woman asked.


“It will,” the woman said.



Generation IIB


“You know, my husband, last week, pointed out that all of the professional chefs on TV are men, and he said that women can’t cook nearly as well as men, can you believe it?” the hostess said.


“Seriously?” the young woman said.


“I told him to cook dinner for himself,” the hostess replied.


“Okay, so I can’t exactly cook yet, but Chef Ramsey can,” the host replied.


The young woman shifted in her seat.


Generation III


The young woman said to the younger woman, “My stepfather said they’d stop coming up ‘once I found a man.’”


“Like, stop visiting you completely?” the younger woman asked.


“I guess just helping me with all of the things ‘men are supposed to do.’”


“Oh,” the younger woman said.


“Yea, they helped me paint my apartment.”


“I didn’t let my parents help me paint mine,” the younger woman said, “They called me stubborn.”


The young woman shrugged.


“So they’re pressuring you to get married?”


“To find a boyfriend, I guess. They like bothering my sister about when she’s going to have a baby. Polish parents. You know Polish moms, they worry,” the young woman said.


“Oh, Polish moms,” the younger woman sighed.


“I’d be worried if she wasn’t worried, I guess.”


Generation IV


An email from the young woman’s cousin said, “Hey. It’s not like that. We don’t keep in touch. Last time I saw them was at Grandma’s funeral a couple years ago. We don’t call each other. We don’t visit. So you should understand.”


The young woman had an idea: She wanted to line up her three pregnant cousins in a row and take a picture of their swollen wombs, since they were all due within days of one another.


The young woman was disappointed. She called her mother, who said, “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to them.”


The young woman didn’t think her mother could make her idea materialize. She wondered if the email was a bad translation of a Polish expression.


Generation V


“Your nails are yellow,” the mother says to her daughter.


“Green nail polish,” the daughter responds.


“No, I know what it’s from, you’ve been smoking.”


“No. I just took off green nail polish a few days ago.”


“Your teeth have yellow spots, too,” the mother responded.


“Last week you call me fat, this week, you say my nails are yellow. I can’t win.”


“If I can’t tell you, who will?” the mother said.


The daughter went over the surface of her teeth with her tongue.


Generation VI


“You know, nothing ever works out for us. It’s because we’re both Aquarians,” the young woman’s aunt said, helping her uncle trim the vines wrapped around the satellite dish.


 “You’ve almost got it!” the young woman said, watching from below.


“Not even kids turned out for us,” the aunt continued.


“You can do it!” the young woman said.


“Honey, I think that we should cut them from the balcony,” the aunt said.


“We’ve almost got it,” said the uncle.


“I give up,” said the aunt.



Generation VII


“You saw my sister, her daughter too, they’re overweight,” the young woman’s aunt said.


The young woman sat watching attentively as her aunt moved around the kitchen, avoiding the cats and the dogs.


“My niece has a thyroid problem, and you’ve seen how much they eat.”


“I didn’t even have room for dessert,” the young woman said.


“I remember the day the Chernobyl cloud passed over the house, no one warned us. I was planting tomatoes in the garden with your grandmother.”


“Grandma used to garden?”


“Your grandmother would do all sorts of things,” the young woman’s aunt said.


“Some people think that the generation that was young then will die off in twenty years, cancer,” the young woman’s aunt continued, “though maybe it’s just a thyroid problem.”


The young woman salted a slice of tomato and slid it between her lips.



Generation VIII


“Maybe you should leave for Warszawa,” the mother said to her daughter over Skype.


“I have to be here in Krakaw,” the young woman said.


“Maybe this is too much for you to handle.”


The young woman shifted in her seat in front of the webcam, said, “I am happy that I was here.”


“You’re never going to forget this. Not for the rest of your life,” the young woman’s mother said.


“I know,” the young woman said.


Generation IX  


“What do you want to eat?” the Polish mother asked.


“What do you mean?” the daughter asked.


“When you get home. What do you want to eat when you get home?”


“Uh. I don’t know.”


“You have to tell me what you want to eat because I know you won’t eat anything that I will make.”


“Mom. How am I supposed to know what I will want to eat in two weeks?”


“Send me an email,” the mother said, sighing into the receiver.



Read Next: "A Certainty" by Rumaan Alam



Photo by Andy Mostowski


Lizy Mostowski is in the last semester of her degree in Creative Writing and English Literature at Concordia University in Montreal, where she is Editor-in-Chief of Soliloquies. She was longlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize in 2012. Her work is can be found in Headlight Anthology

Ribbon Pig, and Dragnet Magazine. She has also written articles for French Culture Guide and The Barnstormer.


This story was published in Issue 12 of The Literarian