If you didn’t like this poem, don’t share it. That would be dumb.
If you did like it, or—better yet—if it rang true, I invite you to share it. It would certainly make my Mother's Day.
I met Daddy and his smile made my knees buckle,
so we buckled down,
and now we tell you to buckle up.
And the swish-clicks of the car seat and booster seat and seat belts
tell me that we’re hittin’ the road for a journey that I am evidently on
but unprepared for.
Unprepared to lose the backs of my diamond stud earrings
because they slipped through your fleshy, fumbly fingers
when you “helped” me accessorize.
Unprepared that I would comb through carpet fibers looking for those escape artists
not because I cared whether or not my earrings were in-tact,
but because my gut said, “Kneel. Comb,” when I saw your apologetic eyes filling up with tears.
My gut told me I was missing you, then filled with you, and now extends to you,
always aware and never free from the deep purple scars that reflect in the bathroom mirror
and announce, “I have a child.”
My gut churns on date nights with Daddy hoping Grandma remembered to put your pink blankie on top of your covers instead of under them
so your fingers can sift through the minky fabric until the steady waves in your sea-green eyes break in sleep.
My gut holds me prisoner to those eyes.
And I can’t help but feel like I’m giving
and swinging and hugging and praying,
drying tears, sewing tears, painting pictures, buying stickers, fixing lunches, stopping punches,
nursing—no cursing—and I’m short. I run dry.
Because no matter what I give, I never finish.
So I wonder why I don’t fly and live the dreams that filled my gut before Daddy smiled.
But you were once a part of me, and now that you’re apart from me, you’ve taken part of me
and my gut
will never stop looking after those missing pieces.
So at night when I write and I think all I want is escape,
I realize that if I sliced off my left leg, I’d most likely want it back because how else could I dance?
So baby, remember that I yelled when you asked me to help you put on your socks,
remember that I fell asleep on the floor playing princess, using my plush steed as a pillow,
and remember that I locked the bathroom door to cry because these shoulders you rely on aren’t always strong enough to carry the weight that they bare anyway.
Don’t forget those moments. Hold onto to the truth.
Because it too easily slips through fleshy, fumbly fingers when you read too many posts and blogs and tweets.
And you’ll find yourself on your knees combing through fibers of self-doubt and insecurities when you think you’re not supposed to break.
Good mommies don’t break?
Here is the truth:
Baby, you broke me. My body, my sanity, my soul, my dreams into play-dough pieces
that you ripped and rolled and stretched and stacked
because I am yours.
And, while I fantasize flight—a daytime me-time world with blank pieces of paper and pens that work—
Because my name is Mommy.
I fought with this poem for about five months before I thought it said what I wanted. After I had my second baby, I felt a lot like Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. With my resources exhausted, I started writing this poem wanting to pen motherhood in real light because I was getting tired of the memes that end, "But when I see them smile, it's all worth it." Because that didn't make it all worth it to me. And I became fascinated with the realization that moms just do it. No one teaches a mom to love her children more than herself. No one tells her that she must give over her body and dreams to children. In fact, there are those who choose alternatives. But those who stay, plug on. Why? Because we understand the work we do and choose to do it. We are mommies.
And, finally, a special thanks to Laura Crandell over at Crandell Corner: budget-friendly video for life's happy moments. (www.facebook.com/crandellcorner) It's thanks to her mad skills that my poem finally came alive.