Until we question our beliefs
we will operate unconsciously from them.
Today I questioned the belief
that my job as mother
is to make my child get her homework done.
I offered her guidance,
I put the tools in her hands,
I instructed her,
clarified the directions,
I gave her reminders.
Then I raised my voice.
Then I apologized for raising my voice.
Then, after dinner, we tried again.
And still she wouldn’t finish her homework.
She said, “I don’t want to do any more.”
I found myself growing angry again,
until I realized that the battle
was in my own mind.
I created this war,
and now I can end it.
I said to my daughter,
“It’s your homework. It’s your choice.”
And like that,
I was giving her a hug,
telling her how much I love her,
doing my job–
being a mother.
Reading a book to my daughter,
a children’s story
beginning with the Irish Potato Famine
and a boy’s journey to the US…
and ending with a young girl
seven generations later,
being told by her grandfather
that the story will live
as long as someone is telling it…
My voice quavers, and I
just can’t keep reading
without that tremor of emotion
in my voice,
tears bubbling up
to the surface.
My daughter looks at me, questioning.
I tell her,
“It’s so good, it’s making me cry.”
And I’m looking into her eyes,
doing this laugh-cry.
And she doesn’t know what to do,
so she laughs and keeps looking at me.
And I think about how we’ve been told
that showing emotions is weak.
And I think, No…this is not weak.
It would be weak to pretend
I’m not feeling something,
that my heart has not been touched
by this sweet story,
weak to cover up what I’m feeling
because I’m too afraid to be vulnerable
in front of my six year old daughter.
I was strong…
I made it through to the end,
glad to be myself,
glad to share this moment
with my daughter–
writing my own story.
I was the one loudmouth parent
on the playground today,
the one asking the big kids
to be safe on the slides
so that the little kids
wouldn’t copy their dangerous moves.
I was the loudmouth
asking the ten year old girl
to stop throwing full bottles of water
at the playground equipment–
with a dozen other kids
playing close by, in range of her missiles.
I wondered why more adults weren’t
monitoring and stepping in…
I thought about bystander apathy
and how they must reason “It’s not my kid.”
I was a big loudmouth stranger to those kids,
but I ended up playing frisbee with a couple of them…
maybe, even though I was a nuisance to them,
stepping in and diverting their daredevil plans,
maybe they nonetheless respected me in some way,
as the one adult who saw them
and asked them to be safe for everyone’s sake.
P.S. Do YOU tell other people’s kids how to act right when no one else is doing it?
Husband is out
at a Guns & Roses concert,
and I am at home
tending to the children.
After making them dinner,
giving them showers,
and tucking them into bed,
I am exhausted myself,
ready to drift off into a place
where work is the dream
and blissful slumber
is the norm.
Caught in a cycle of anger,
bumping my head,
catching my finger in the latch,
feeling tired, hot, frustrated.
Apologies to my kids
for the angry outburst,
Wondering when the time will come
that I don’t believe in my anger enough
to have to let it fly out in my words
Can I feel it without letting it fly?
Can I let it pass through me like a wave?
I hope you don’t die
he said to me
as I gave him a kiss good night.
I had just told him how much I love him
and how glad I am
that he is my little boy…
Everyone will die, sweetheart,
and this is why we should love each other
as much as we can
and treasure every moment we have together.
We never know what will happen,
so we have to love and enjoy one another now.
He is four years old.
I don’t know how much he understands,
but perhaps after a few years of thinking about it,
he’ll grasp how there are no guarantees for tomorrow,
and how important it is to love with his whole heart today.
First I ask for their forgiveness
and then I attempt to forgive myself.
I didn’t want to lose my temper
I didn’t want to jump up and down
and get red in the face.
But I’m tired, and sick, and human,
and sometimes I just lose it.
The critic said to me,
See? Five years of daily meditation
have done nothing for you.
You still lose your temper.
You are an imposter.
I said to the critic
If you think this is bad,
imagine how I’d be without meditation.
And then I forgave myself.
For listening to the voice
that told me I should have done better
than I was able to do.
I am, like everyone else on this blessed planet,
doing the best I can.
being kind and patient
becomes increasingly difficult as the day wears on
and self-criticism becomes easier.
The importance of taking deep breaths is forgotten
and resentment remembered.
The positivity has flown out the window
and some monster lurks
shrieking right inside my brain.
The tired child within me
resists being responsible for so much
when all she wants is to rest.
giving you opportunities
to become a better, wiser,
more patient, more strong,
more loving, more courageous,
more responsible person,
since time immemorial…
Those mothers who manage
to write, sing, paint, dance,
practice yoga, cook, garden,
etc. etc. etc.
with their children around–
how do they do it?
Am I an oddball for wanting silence
when I write
or when I’m trying to learn new music?
Am I strange for wanting to be alone
when I roll out my mat to practice asana
(so that no one will be crawling all over me)?
When it’s 5pm and I have no idea what to make for dinner
and my kids are relentless in their lists of needs
am I a failure because I lose my temper?
No, I think I’m pretty normal.
But how do they do it,
those mothers who manage to create
with their living creations
making all that racket?
How do they do it?
Time is flying
but we don’t notice
because it all unfolds
in this one moment.
I look at you, my children,
and cannot believe
how much you’ve grown.
Every moment of motherhood
a giving away,
a letting go.
Celebrating your steps,
your leaps and bounds,
knowing that someday
you’ll fly away
and I’ll have only the memory
of your tiny hands
reaching out to me
asking for the comfort of my arms.
It takes every ounce of courage
to not hold on too tight.
I don’t want my love to be a cage
that obscures the light you need
So I hold you when you let me
and breathe and let you go
when you’re ready to stand on your own.
Every moment of motherhood
a giving away,
a letting go.