Thursday, February 01, 2007


When moms say to me, "Better you than me," about having another baby, about
soon having three young ones, I always wonder if they really mean it.
Sometimes, I suspect they do, that they are truly glad to have sleepless nights
and diapers behind them. Other times, it seems as if they are trying to convince
themselves that they are happy to have their kids older, more indpendent, and even
out of the house.

I just wonder why people have to put that judgement onto others.

Some moms and dads tell me to enjoy it while I can, the whole, "It will all
go by so fast" spiel.

"They'll be gone before you know it."

"Enjoy every moment."

Why do we all feel the need to impart wisdom from our own experiences? This
kind of wisdom is non-transferable. Why can't we let each other make our own
decisions and live in them moment to moment, learning from them, and keeping
that knowledge to ourselves? Passing it on seems useless and hollow.

Today, I am trying to live in my now. We have a snow day. My kids are making
a snowman and playing with a neighbor friend, my husband's lecture is cancelled and
he is making chicken noodle soup for when they come in wet and cold with red cheeks,
I am writing and resting and growing a baby who is now about 3 1/2 pounds.

American Life in Poetry: Column 097


Though parents know that their children will grow up and away from
them, will love and be loved by others, it's a difficult thing to accept.
Massachusetts poet Mary Jo Salter emphasizes the poignancy of the
parent/child relationship in this perceptive and compelling poem.

Somebody Else's Baby

From now on they always are, for years now
they always have been, but from now on you know
they are, they always will be,

from now on when they cry and you say
wryly to their mother, better you than me,
you'd better mean it, you'd better

hand over what you can't have, and gracefully.

Reprinted from "New Letters," vol. 72, no. 3-4, 2006, by permission of
the poet. Copyright (c) 2006 by Mary Jo Salter, whose most recent book
of poetry is "Open Shutters," Knopf, 2003. This weekly column is
supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the
Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does
not accept unsolicited poetry.


Blogger Shelly said...

well written. Great Job.

3:07 PM, February 01, 2007  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks Shelly

11:47 AM, February 03, 2007  
Blogger Timmy said...

I admire the spirit with which you are trying to live in the moment. Imparting wisdom makes one feel justified in the fact that they have missed the moment. You live life more fully and powerfully if you are present. Good for you, Julia!

12:26 PM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

"Trying" is the key word . . . thanks Tim.

4:44 PM, February 10, 2007  

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