eight years later

They would be teenagers now,
those crusted-nose, mismatch-socked,
pig-tailed grinning first graders.

On December 14 there were presents already
hidden in closets and drawers of dressers
or out under the tree
(Santa gives gifts
but so do parents)
and I wonder,
what did parents do with those gifts
after December 14?
Ten days ’til Christmas Eve.

Were siblings giddy on Christmas morning,
and then stopped and remembered?
Did a mother forget a gift she’d bought and hid
in the upper left cupboard above the washer,
finding it three years later when the family packed to move
from Sandy Hook to Anywhere Else,
and with the thud of sudden remembrance
found herself trembling,
scraping at the tape,
sure and unsure of what was inside?

children: pros & cons

Motherhood
currently reading

PROS

CONS

Someone will take care of you when you’re old. They still might not take care of you when you’re old.
You’ll be placed in the societal category of “normal.” You’ll devote most of your love to your nuclear family, instead of spreading it throughout your community.
People won’t pity you except for nice reasons like “You must be so tired.” It usually detracts from marital satisfaction.
You could try to give them a happy childhood. You have to send them off to college, where they might get drunk, have sex, and recklessly drive.
Your husband is a really kind man and his genes deserve to live on. The crying.
Will you have time to write your book?
It’s scary because they might get hurt or die.
You’ll stop having other things to talk about.
You won’t have as much ability to travel the world.
There’s no guarantee the kid will be a nice person.
You like to control things, and this will prevent much of that.
You’ll never have to wonder, “What if…?” If you regret having them, you’re not allowed to say.
It would make Christmases and birthdays pretty fun. The world is already overpopulated and somebody has to make the wise but hard decision to go against the grain.
Ultimately it teaches you to be selfless. It’s, ultimately, selfish.

 

 

my mother, she read to me

IMG_5581

Bricks slick with rain, outside a tiny library.

My mother read to me, too.

Mom doesn’t want you to waste money on flowers and doesn’t want the hairdresser to give her any volume. She doesn’t wear pants so snug they’ll show her figure, doesn’t mind eating leftovers to spare the rest of us, doesn’t drive a Prius for ecology, just economy.

But when she read to me she read with enthusiasm. Not with impressions, like Dad, but at least with interest. Can a person be both practical and have a flair for the dramatic? Can she be no-nonsense and at least a little whimsical? I don’t remember the titles of any of the books from my childhood (other than Let’s Talk About Whining), but I know she read to me, with flair, and I know such a thing is to be canonized.