{by TKW of The Kitchen Witch}

Three weeks before her third birthday, Miss D. starts seeing monsters. My fierce warrior child, who fears nothing, now cowers in corners and under covers. Monsters usually appear around 3am. I wake with my heart pounding in my throat, hot with the strength of her scream.

“Monsters! Help me Mommy! I scared!”

I fumble for lights, footing and child simultaneously in the night and realize that I’m just as scared as she is.


I was almost in my third trimester with Miss D. when the newspaper was late. This drives my part-German self crazy. I need coffee and the paper to make me human in the morning; without them I am foul. Sourly, I resorted to the television. Mornings suck hard enough without some perky anchor with teeth too good to be true telling you what traffic’s like Out There.

I flicked the screen on just in time to see the second tower of The World Trade Center descend into rubble and smoke.

I thought it was a joke at first, or some weird movie stunt. Everybody did. You just don’t believe things like that can happen, particularly if you’re my age and have missed most of the good tragedies like JFK and World Wars and even Lennon, who I was too little to know.

I spent the rest of September 11 like most Americans did, grotesquely tuned-in. I channel-surfed maniacally, looking for answers or truth or the latest horrible picture, but it was a one-handed quest. The other hand was glued to my swollen belly,and I remember looking down at it and and thinking, “What on Earth have I done?”


My friend Tamar, an Israeli Jew, taught at Hebrew University. Her son, Yarden, was born ten days before Miss D. She has lived in Jerusalem, and then Tel Aviv, and has seen unspeakable things in both.

She watched when a bomb destroyed her favorite cafe; watched when the student union blew up in her workplace–minutes before she arrived at the U. She learned to avoid crowds, buses, open-air marketplaces. She grew accustomed to having her car searched by young men in uniforms.

“It’s sad, so sad, what’s going on in Israel, and yet still, I feel it is my home,” she wrote after yet another bombing near her neighborhood. “It’s part of our life here. We live with it and we go on.”

She is stronger than anyone I know and holds tight to her faith, even when horrible things happen. She sends me pictures during poppy season, her son beaming through an endless kaliedescope of orange.

I have seldom seen her rattled, but not long after Yarden’s first birthday, she wrote: I had to get Yarden a gas mask today. They require every child at the daycare to have one. I haven’t even bought my son a pair of real tennis shoes yet. But he has a gas mask.

She and her family now live in Chicago, and she convinces herself that she feels safe. When I ask her, she says she dreams in orange.


My sister, who used to be beautiful, has cataracts in both eyes. One more blow to either of them and she could be blinded. Her left eye is smaller and hangs lower in its socket, part of the occipital bone poking out at an awkward angle. She’s lost several front teeth and dresses in long sleeves. Her husband has a temper.

We grew up side by side, camped in the backyard, had parents who loved us and spoiled us and told us we had good brains.

The last time she was hospitalized, my father offered to pay for her divorce.

“I know you don’t approve, but I love him,” she said. “Some people just aren’t strong.” She looked out the window. “I’ve never had any luck.”


There’s an old gentleman, a relative of mine, who my mother never lets me be alone in a room with–never has. He’s in his 80′s now, small and wizened like a bad grape. He’s a God loving Baptist, has gone to church every Sunday for generations, gives hundreds of dollars to charity, is a pinnacle of the community. All the women in the family call him Papa.

When my mother was nine, Papa stuck his hands down her shirt in a dark cinema.

She ran all the way home, hysterical, and told her mother what had happened. My grandmother said, “Oh my goodness, is he still doing that?” and continued frying chicken.


I fumble for lights and words and my quivering daughter at 3am. She’s sweaty and she’s peed herself and she claws at my neck, burrowing her nose into my hair.

“It’s okay, baby. It’s okay, Mommy’s here,” I say, rubbing her back.

“Everything’s okay, Baby. No Monsters here,” I whisper, and choke on the lie.


Read the original post on TKW’s blog here.

Subscribe to TKW’s blog, The Kitchen Witch for more beautiful writing, the best recipes and fantastic photos, too.

You can follow TKW on Twitter @TheKitchWitch

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45 Comments to “Monsters”

  1. [...] But today, I am a writer. This piece will be familiar to a handful of you, but new territory for most. I’d be so thrilled if you’d join me here. [...]

  2. Christine says:

    Chills running down my back at the honesty and the truth of this.
    Christine recently posted..Into focus

  3. Erica@PLRH says:

    You are a very brave perosn to stand up and point out the monsters. Your honestly has left me with a tight throat and blurry eyes.

  4. Ash

    Thank goodness for mommies who can ease the fears. My heart aches for the children who don’t have such warriors.
    Ash recently posted..Lump of “Coal”ition for you

  5. This is what terrifies me most about being a mother.
    Alex@LateEnough recently posted..Obnoxious Indifference

  6. Sherri says:

    A brave and honest piece. I think you handled it both directly and delicately. I got a little choked up :-) . Nicely done.

  7. Justine says:

    I am in tears – at the monsters and unspeakable truths here, as well as the raw beauty of your writing. Kitch, you are SO a writer, and I am in awe of you.
    Justine recently posted..The PROJECT and other happier things

  8. Virginia says:

    This piece left me both shaking with the brutal honesty and nodding my head in agreement. Monsters are my biggest fear and biggest obstacle as a parent. Beautifully written by a fantastic writer.

  9. Katybeth says:

    Monsters suck but the moment you hold you daughter, and love your daughter –you have chased the monsters far far away. The world we live in is a beautiful place, filled with kindness and love–the moment we believe differently the monsters or zombies or bad guys have won. The World Trade Center, Bombs, your sister (this really sucks) and the “feeler,’ are the bad apples and it is up to us to keep them from spoiling our beautiful wonderful world.

    So well written–you can feel the words and the pain.
    Katybeth recently posted..Concerts and Kids

  10. Thrilled to see The Kitchen Witch – one of my favorite writers online and off – here today.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to balance my wish to protect my kids from the world and my wish to prepare them for the “monsters” that will inevitably find them. Thank you for this bittersweet reminder that I am not alone.
    Kristen @ Motherese recently posted..Girls Just Want to Have Fun

  11. This post hit me in my gut. How poignant the juxtaposition of real and imagined monsters. Even as a grown woman with a child of my own there are still days that I wish I could nestle in my mother’s lap and ask for her reassurance. Beautiful stuff.

  12. subWOW says:

    I remember this post very well. This is one of my favorite blog posts amongst all the blogs that I have read, and the one post that got me hooked on not just TKW’s blog but the person behind it. So glad it is featured here so that a wider audience can appreciate this excellent piece of writing/story-telling. Well deserved!

  13. Elly Lou says:

    Beautiful. Heart mangling. And yet still hopeful.

    What a writer you are…

  14. Shelley says:

    Damn straight you’re a writer. You think I visit TKW for the recipes? They’re OK, I mean, sometimes even pretty good. But your writing is what keeps me coming back. I know a writer when I read one and that’s you.

  15. Tiffany says:

    You usually make me laugh…today you gave me chills.

  16. Trust me, friends. You don't want to miss this powerful post by @thekitchwitch on @storybleed today. Monsters –

  17. elizabeth says:

    Always worth a reread, even if it does bring me to tears while doing so. This is a gorgeous prose-poem.
    elizabeth recently posted..111410- dinner meyer lemon pericatelli and succulent meat-ricotta meatballs

  18. Kelly Sauer says:

    RT @HeatheroftheEO: You don't want to miss this post by @thekitchwitch on @storybleed. Monsters – // incredible post.

  19. I literally had chills while reading this. Although the content is sad – you wrote it beautifully.

  20. Belinda says:

    It’s a necessity — to tell our very young kids there are no monsters when we know they are everywhere. The balance of good and evil confronts us daily and our children learn this early on. As mothers, it’s our job, our privilege, to make sure that they know that despite the monsters that visit them in their dreams, there is comfort and love found in our soothing words and kisses and hugs.

    Loved this piece. The Kitchen Witch is an excellent writer.

  21. Camilla says:

    Beautifully written TKW. Such demons need to be aired and you do it with strength and courage.
    I met Tamar in Chicago, our boys went to the same school; we tick and treated together, you would never know her gentle sole has seen so much horror and violence. Thank you for the insight.

  22. Monsters? Violence? Aren’t we supposed to be buried in the land of sugar plums right now? Sometimes I am blown away by your strength TKW. If people stood us side by side I bet they would vote that I could kick thier asses….but they would be wrong. You are the very essence of strength and wisdom sometimes. Thank You for having the strength to be honest and to write it so eloquently.
    Camille Brightsmith recently posted..Blackest Friday

  23. Thrilled to see @TheKitchWitch posting at Storybleed today. Check out her remarkable entry, "Monsters":

  24. Jana says:

    RT @Motherese: Thrilled to see @TheKitchWitch posting at Storybleed today. Check out her remarkable entry, "Monsters":

  25. RT @Motherese: Thrilled to see @TheKitchWitch posting at Storybleed today. Check out her remarkable entry, "Monsters":

  26. Kitch,
    I don’t know what to say. I’m flummoxed. Your writing leaves me wanting to chew and digest a bit before I can give back….

    Oh! that sounds like something a great writer does, doesn’t it. I’ll be wanting to congratulate you when I’m back inside my skin.

  27. Sarah says:

    Kitch, EVERY day you are a writer. Every.Single.Day. Your words are rhythmic and true and, even when you are trying to hide it behind snark, you’ve got something important to say. Always. And I’m always listening.
    So SO happy to see you here, my dear. Mwah

  28. Naomi says:

    The brutal honesty of this left me stunned. You write sparsely but say so much – that’s a real gift. I think your sister’s story will haunt me for days to come.
    Naomi recently posted..Its the little things

  29. So wonderful, Kitch. So true. So heartbreaking. Bringing 9/11 into it immediately unifies everything and everyone, doesn’t it? I had a 2 month old…took him to his check up that morning. I’ll never forget that feeling that my children were suddenly not safe in their world.
    Amy @ Never-True Tales recently posted..Lucky in love

  30. You are SO a writer, every time you put your words out there. I hadn’t seen this one before. Anyway – 9/11, I traveled a lot, and was still sleeping when the towers went down. My friend called me and was so relieved to hear my voice and know I wasn’t in one of those planes..

  31. Linda says:

    Ultimately, we must transcend the dichotomy of “monters” vs. “angels” if we are to heal …

  32. ck says:

    I never, ever tire of your haunting words, TKW. Or your beautiful heart. You inspire me.

  33. Maria says:

    Kitch, you are a gifted writer. Your post today was phenomenal. Truly. I remember that day well. And I remember feeling the same way. My oldest was nearly a year old and I choked on the fear I was trying to swallow. Both for him. And myself.

    Beautifully written. As always!
    Maria recently posted..A life- as told in pictures

  34. Zoeyjane says:

    That left my heart in the throat and a new subscription in my reader. Such rawness, so polished.
    Zoeyjane recently posted..reverb10- contributions and eliminations

  35. Heather says:

    Please never doubt your writing abilities again. This was amazing. I was fully engrossed in this and could feel my own heart pounding. It’s so hard to be a parent and know the fears that are real but take comfort in the fact that our children are fortunate to have make-believe fears. Many children know all too well the reality. Haunting post – I applaud you for sharing.
    Heather recently posted..And So You’re Back From Outer Space

  36. RT @HeatheroftheEO: Trust me, friends. You don't want to miss powerful post by @thekitchwitch on @storybleed. Monsters –

  37. Tracie

    You found the monsters, and they are real.

    This moved me to tears. And prayers for peace and safety for all our children.
    Tracie recently posted..I Was A Spoiled Little Sick Girl with Much More Than Mommy

  38. Rebecca says:

    Wow, very nicely written and so well presented.

  39. Cathy says:

    You are a writer indeed! Great stuff. It is sad though to think that those monsters exist.
    Cathy recently posted..experiences that make you feel older

  40. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    Kitch, you are so amazingly talented. I’m am choked up at the horrors of everyday life, at the monsters who surround us… all we can do as parents is try to keep our children safe.

  41. RT @Motherese: Thrilled to see @TheKitchWitch posting at Storybleed today. Check out her remarkable entry, "Monsters":

  42. Lori Mockson says:

    RT @Motherese: Thrilled to see @TheKitchWitch posting at Storybleed today. Check out her remarkable entry, "Monsters":

  43. I continue to be absolutely awed at your writing ability.

    My birthday is September 11. It will never be the same, obviously.

  44. bryan says:

    Yeah, TKW still touching! All I can say.
    bryan recently posted..Memories- Recollections and Foibles