Mahlia Sawyer Estrada – On Moderation

Moderation is a word that has always echoed in my brain for as long as I can remember. There were moments where my mom would walk into the kitchen and catch me attempting to stealthily eat a chocolate chip cookie, and I would receive her famous line, “You have to balance things out and do everything in moderation!” With the amount of times this has been repeated to me, I am honestly surprised that I am not walking around and constantly whispering that sentence to myself like a colorful parrot. I hear the word moderation and can imagine my mom in the front of my mind lecturing me in an instant, almost like a reflex at this point. Despite the fact that this line seems to be constantly floating around in my brain, I struggle to take this advice to heart. This phrase I never truly understood or appreciated until I was about four years old. I remember around that age my grandma purchased me a small bottle of Minnie Mouse perfume. I always had a fascination with the concept of being able to store a scent in a bottle, and I always watched my grandma spritz herself throughout the day in awe. Unfortunately for my mother, she does not like the aroma of perfume. I believe it is safe to say that she was upset with my grandma after having gifted her grand daughter a large bottle of perfume that had the signature old lady aroma scent. I fully believed that at that point in time, every room smelt bad. I remember marching throughout the house and giving a few generous spritzes to anything cloth, treating the perfume like an intense bottle of febreeze. In the spur of the moment it sounded like a brilliant idea, like I was doing my household a favor by gifting their noses with Minnie Mouse fragrance, however once my mom caught a whiff of my deeds she was far from appreciative. 

I got my first perfume taken away. 

Did that stop my quest to leave the scent in each room? 

Not at all. 

My mom resorted to hiding the plastic bottle of perfume in high places throughout the house, but she failed to take into account I was a mischievous child who enjoyed climbing rock walls and trees. I scaled countertops to reach the top of refrigerators and cabinets in order to reach my treasure. For the next several weeks, it was a constant battle with my mom where she would attempt to hide the perfume bottle and I would somehow find it and climb difficult places. I remember at some point she caught me perched atop the fridge like a cat on top of their tower, stalking the room from above. I also remember the long lecture I received about how one spritz of perfume is a good balance, not the 15 pumps I thought every room needed. One would think that finally being caught in the act would get the guilty party to stop… yet despite the trouble I repeatedly found myself in, I was determined to not lose this battle with my mother.

On one day in particular, I remember my mom was in the kitchen on the opposite side of the house cooking dinner for our family. I was laying on her bed and watching Phineas & Ferb on her TV. During commercial break, my mind was no longer stimulated so of course I had to source elsewhere for my entertainment. Still laying in the same position, I remember rolling around on her bed looking for something I could fidget with while awaiting the return of the show. I sat up on her bed and realized that just behind her old Tube TV was my Minnie Mouse perfume. Like an animal spotting its prey, I remember instinctually hoping off the bed and bolting to where her Tube TV was: atop a large sage green dresser. This dresser remained in the family for multiple generations, and it was nearly double the length and width of an ordinary dresser. I remember standing before the dresser, hands on my hips, eyes fixed on the perfume. However given the height of the dresser compared to my four year old self, I could barely even spot the cap pink bottle. Despite the many things in front of me that practically screamed capturing the perfume was a idea, including the physical barrier of the dresser, I ignored them and only focused on my goal. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work, utilizing the intricate designs in the wood to place my small fingers in while placing my feet awkwardly on the handles of the drawers. Imitating the rock climbers I have seen shows scaling Mt. Everest, I reached the top of the massive wood piece. I remember lifting my hand and reaching out to grasp my beloved bottle, before feeling the severity of my decision begin to weigh down in my brain. Time nearly stopped as I watched the ceiling begin to slowly grow further and further away from me as the dresser began falling backwards, unable to resist leaning given my weight on the front. Luckily my parent’s bed was right in front of the dresser which cushioned my fall. I did however have the massive feeling of the weight of the wood on me. My mother quickly found me and received the spontaneous momma bear strength and somehow managed to lift the dresser off of me. 

My actions earned another well deserved lecture.

My perfume was promptly thrown away. 

The entire incident was one of my earlier memories, and I still look back and laugh about my impulsiveness, meanwhile my mother scowls and uses it as a reminder that I was always stubborn and acted on my own accord. 

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