My Apology

Dear New Parent,

I am sorry.

Honesty is kind of my thing.

I don’t candy coat my life.

You know I don’t pussyfoot around parenthood, but it still surprised you, didn’t it?

It is still more exhausting, overwhelming, and soul-crushing than you expected.

No one really tells you how fucking creative you have to be all day every day, do they?

I’m sorry.

Really and truly.

I am.

Sincerely,

Your Sister In US Abandonment of Parents

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Filed under Children, poetry, Social Issues

In The Clouds

Guest Post: Today’s post is a poem written by Eldest. We recently went on a road trip. At one point she sat up and declared the urgency with which she needed pencil and paper. She proceeded to write this down. Eldest is currently 9. The poem is shared with her permission. Part of me simply loves the poem, part of me recognized that urgency she experienced as a writer and viscerally connected to that experience.

In the clouds,
In the clouds I see that of a
Widowed mother.

In the clouds I see that of some
Fatherless children.

In the clouds,
In the clouds I see that of a monster.

In the clouds I see that of
Sharp needles and lazers shooting
Across the sky.

In the clouds,
In the clouds I see that of
A decaying monster.

In the clouds,
In the clouds I see that of a bird
With a tail like a spear and wings
Like an angel.

[at this point, she took a break – then she added this next section, which could be considered either a separate poem or a second half]

In The Fields

In the fields,
In the field I see grasses
That go on for miles.

In the fields I see
Trees that go together
Like a magical forest.

In the fields I see
Plains, rows surrounded by trees,
And shrubs like a clearing.

In that magickal forest
Surrounded by trees, shrubs
And roaring asphalt* roads.

In the fields I see specks
That look like sprinkles
On the hills with trees in the background.

*Originally spelled asfault, which I admit, I loved.

 

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Putting Pieces Together

When I was an infant, so my family lore goes, I attracted a lot of attention.

People cooed. They told my mother that I was adorable. They generally remarked on her new baby.

So where’s the story? Well, I have an older brother. He is several years older than I am, and  he stood by my mother’s side as she and I received all this attention. He who, most assuredly, had received all the attention previously. I don’t know whether my brother did something to indicate this bothered him, but our mother decided to reassure her eldest; her smart little baby boy. She told him, “Some people are beautiful. Some people are smart. You are smart.”

****

As we got older, my parents and my smart older brother would have dinner conversations around me in which they spelled out the conversation so that I could not understand what was being said.

It is entirely possible I continued the tradition as children were added to the family.

****

Eighth grade. Science teacher: Mr. Goebel. Yes, really. He taught us about sublimation. As a side note, he said that another definition of sublime was royal or different [spoiler: nope].

In a family where words and intelligence were power, I was ready to wield the sublime sword for my family. And so, with crushing humiliation, my family once again informed me of my lackluster intelligence. Really, I should go look the defintion up in the dictionary as I would remember it longer – a tradition in our household.

Thus, with a decisive slam, my respect and trust of teachers shut. I spent the rest of the year seeking vengence on the man who humiliated me in front of my family. I sought to give him a taste of what I experienced, confronting him in class (he told me I used the wrong dictionary) and mocking him in the cafeteria. He knew war when he saw it. He tried to intimidate me with lies about my grades. When I had my mother confront him he denied everything.

In ninth grade, my science teacher, who had been my track coach in seventh and eighth grade, asked me, “Where did sweet Mara go?”

****

Some random semester. The one single one in which I got straight As. I put my report card at my father’s seat at the dinner table. At dinner time, he yelled at me for leaving crap on the table and not clearing everything when I set it for dinner. He threw the report card away without looking at it.

****

Twelvth grade English teacher: “Some people are good at writing. Some people are good at French. You are good at French.” (get a theme, Mara!)

****

“Mara, will you ever be interested in boys?”

****

My parents were master gardeners. My father tended the fruit and vegetables. My mother tended the flowers. We all harvested.

“I keep waiting for you to take an interest in gardening.”

****

“What are you going to do when you are no longer nursing and you’ve grown accustomed to eating this many calories?”

****

“What if she changes her mind?”

****

Questioning me never ends. Finding my truth, holding on to it, defending it, these aren’t things I grew up knowing. It is beyond ironic. Facing this. Recognizing it, leaves me destabilized, but I know it is where I must start.

 

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Filed under Children, Parents, Seeking Health, Social Issues