Saturday, October 29, 2005


I learned many things from my mother, but nothing so practical as sewing. I learned how to be low maintenance and not care what people think, sometimes. I learned to transmit guilt and disapproval telepathically, which I’m not proud of, and which reminds me of the poem Ted Kooser is featuring in the current American Life in Poetry column (see LINKS). I also learned many nonsensical sayings like, “If it was a bear it would bite you,” “A bird is going to come and lay an egg on your lip,” and, my favorite, “I’m just resting my eyes.” What other mother sayings did we grow up on?

What I Learned from my Mother by Being One:

to my daughter

How hard it is to follow through after “no” is said,
and how easy it is to buy something for you, instead of me,
why she stayed up until I got home late at night,
and why zipper robes and scuffy slippers became a morning uniform.

That it is easy to forget the most obvious,
like birthdays, promises, where you put something down,
but hard to forget what was said and just how,
and how the weight of you being rocked will haunt me,
with blinds rippling with the up down
of dark and light, in time, with the creaking rocker.

Why the art of distancing from what you most love,
once in a while, is necessary to maintain sanity.
I understand now that you can really be “resting your eyes”
and not quite sleeping, and how the square I create
on the couch with my legs, can be filled perfectly,
by you just wanting to be near.

I learned from her how to trace your features with fingertips,
around closed eyes, smoothing brow, down nose,
feeling bone under soft cheeks, and threading hair.
This is how to find your way back again.


Blogger reniebob said...

I love this poem, particularly the Gibran-like "let there be spaces in your togetherness" part. I have said so many times that we are better mothers when we take some time for ourselves away from the kids. But you know what I am loving about this blogging? how it is inspiring us to write every day! THANK YOU.

8:48 AM, October 30, 2005  

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