Friday, July 16, 2010

Parenting Poetry

A few days ago I sent an email to some friends who are moms, explaining how I couldn't make a lunchtime concert at the park because I do Stroller Strides that day and by the time it's over "Momma then needs a shower and a meat sandwich." This sparked Sarah's creative juices and she wrote a whole poem that wonderfully captures the joys and frustrations of the first weeks of parenthood. I wanted to publish it here as a tribute to her, the things we do for our kids and because unfolding a diaper is so totally like unfolding a prayer.

"Mommy Needs a Shower and a Meat Sandwich"
Inspired by Kali Sakai

Momma needs a shower and a meat sandwich.
Because Momma stayed up with you until 2am last night when you were sick.
She bounced you on the yoga ball until her backache filled the darkness.
She stroked your head while you cried.
She turned the hot water on in the shower until it filled with steam.
Then, she stood there on the wet tiles, rocking you, whispering,
Until your ragged breathing slowed and you sunk into her arms with the weight of your dreams.

Momma needs a shower and a meat sandwich.
Because Momma's nipples have bruised and peeled for you.
They have been greasy with lanolin and leaked on the bed sheets.
Her breasts have become swollen and rock hard,
But, Momma keeps them open around the clock whenever you are hungry.
In your first year, they will produce enough milk to fill two oil barrels.
Each ounce, more precious to her than gold.
After one pumping,
When the freezer bag tips over,
And she watches a day’s supply splatter over the floor,
Momma mops up the disaster with a towel,
Sobbing wet tears,
Over spilled milk.

Momma needs a shower and a meat sandwich.
Because, as Momma stoops over the changing table,
Wondering why King County sent her a brochure yesterday saying you will go through about 10 diapers a day.
Because, after all, it's only 11am,
And you have already gone through 12 in the last eight hours.
Sometimes, you go through three at a time,
Like when Momma, groggy in bed, hears Daddy cuss,
And mumble-shout, "I'm out of runway!"
Meaning you have pooped three times,
In one changing.
So, Mommy fumbles out of bed into your nursery,
Where three spots of green, liquid poo,
Stain the changing table.
Each a few inches apart,
Marking the trail where Daddy scooted you down,
As the frustration built.
And so, Mommy lifts you into her arms,
While Daddy stretches a fresh cloth over the table.
And then,
They work together,
Silently wiping your folds clean,
Patting you dry,
Covering the raw patch of your diaper rash with ointment,
Then unfolding another white diaper,
Like a prayer,
And offering it to you in their sacred night time ritual.

And after that,
Mommy and Daddy definitely need a shower and a meat sandwich.

-Sarah Waller

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