Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ode to Motherhood


In reality a child's birth is the birth of a mother,
an occupation with its end inherent in its beginning.

When they're infants I'm the Dairy Queen,
all-knowing Goddess, bestower of good things.
Weeks without sleep, hair held by a clothes pin.
I don't have bags under my eyes - I have suitcases.
Laughing in order not to cry.
Last to eat, first to wake.
My reward: a tight grip on my finger,
the soft breath of sleep, an occasional smile,
and I am ridiculously pleased.

Then they're in the age of piano lessons,
school concerts in the gym, dentist bills,
concussions, skinned knees, hurt feelings.
I am the chauffeur, the boss, the healer,
long nights in hard hospital chairs,
pillowing small bodies with mine.
Once a year my reward: a bedraggled begonia,
a heart-shaped note pasted to a paper doily,
and I am ridiculously pleased.

When they're teens I become a toilet brush,
embarrassing but necessary,
brought out when there's a mess to clean up,
then tucked away and forgotten until the next time
they need field trip money or a ride to the mall.
Gripping the dashboard as they lurch the car forward,
trying to think of a Mormon equivalent of a Hail Mary.
My reward: the bright smile on the driver's licence,
and I am ridiculously pleased.

Then they're off to university, with all my money and half the house,
an occasional email, wild hair and tattoos,
prepping for exams, interviews, heartbreak.
Fledgling independence, gaining flight.
After decades of fear and sweat and sorrow,
my reward: to see myself become unnecessary.
My goal of obsolescence is in sight.
An empty room, quiet nights, gray hair,
and I am ridiculously pleased.

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