When I love parenting
When we sit down to lunch and I watch my words going into your eyes,
when you say “my home” and I hear love in your voice, and marvel
that this is a house we have made “home” for you. When you ride
your new bike with careful determination, when I watch you traverse
the world with enthusiasm but always come back to me, like your baby
brother learning to walk: face broad with pride; coming to me with all the
joyful certainty of love. When I read you books and remember being small,
and how my mother sang in the kitchen, exactly as I do now—
in these moments, tasks don’t seem meaningless, and you boys seem
fleeting. Parenting is not a well, where efforts disappear into unknown depths.
It is filling a glass with joy until it brims. Our lives are the glass.
In these moments, my eyes drip with joy.
Together, we will lead the way to the moon
(Based on Maria Rizzo’s painting of the same title)
Parenting is like being trees in a forest:
Everyone is doing the same thing,
but no one knows how they’re doing it.
Like being trees in a forest at night,
we just keep pushing upwards—day to day,
moments growing their own shapes.
Once love was like birds: fluttering
Now time circles around us—
shadows on a forest bed,
hard blue cries of night animals
issuing warnings and longings.
That’s because we are shelters now.
Love has roots.
It reaches into the hard places: cold ground,
depth of fear.
But it has direction too. Look up.
Together, we lead the way to the moon.
Life eddies around us, white
moonlight. Our little birds
nest in our arms.
There are times I am sure,
sure I am doing it right:
doing it the most thoughtful way,
truest to myself and to what
I want to give them—
padding around in the half-grey light
of morning with books and bowls
of freshly picked blueberries.
I sip my coffee and read aloud
as my older interrupts: What dat mean?
and there are times I’m sure I’m wrong—
they will tell their future partners or psychiatrist
or themselves: I am flawed because of my mother,
who never relaxed. Whose hands were bird claws
gripping my shoulder. Who should’ve just
let us watch some goddamn cartoons, and given us
the Lucky Charms cereal. After all, childhood
is so brief— it can be sweet as marshmallows,
as freshly picked berries, as light touching
those whorls of blonde curls
and then, quickly, sticky and messy:
another spilled bowl, another flash
of angry words, another page ripped from a book—
but only a page. Only one fragment
of the stories their lives will become.