Diapers and Dragons

Thursday, August 27, 2009

whispers in the dark

it's not that i don't love you
it's that your needs swallow me whole
spit me out with remnants of self
one moment
i'm consumed by adoration of you
the next
wondering how to get away

i stare at your sleeping face
then hear your whimpering cries
and my belly clenches
resentment blooms
more hours to come of little sleep
dreams broken by midnight calls

you strip me of my reserves
push every button and weep
when my patience runs to its end
anger boils over in harsh words
shadows overtake my weary mind
i can only turn away
sure that this time there cannot be
redemption for my failure

how do these others do it?
how do they subsume their beings
into identity defined by
those who have erupted from their bodies
to overtake their lives?

that pretty picture some paint
is mostly lies
or at least half-truths
a veneer over the ugliness
that creeps beneath the skin

or perhaps
i'm flawed in a way
they are not
darkened and broken
fitful and torn

my head drops to my hands
your whimpers fade
a tentative brushing across my palm
i feel your tiny hand in mine
and sighing you crawl into my lap
nestle against the scar of your birth
rest against sagging breasts
worn down by use and Time

bittersweet scent of sweat and skin
damp hair against my cheek
my arms creep to cradle soft limbs
reluctant at first
then gentling as shadowing of soul
brightens with forgiveness

i kiss your cheek
tear-wet eyes closed in sleep
and whisper promises
to try again
and love you always
even through the dark

9 bits of love:

Todd said...

And some people think that the best poetry is inspired only by unrequited love... Your words underscore the ambivalence that characterizes early parenthood.

GingerB said...

I felt much the same last night comforting a teething baby when it wasn't what I wanted to do, at all. No one parents perfectly dear. No one.

The Kampers said...

oh my...thanks for making me cry this morning! I begged Noah not to go to work today...because, well, this whole 2 itty bitties is just too hard! Thanks for reminding me that it really is hard and I am not a wimp!

merideth said...


i'm not sure other mommies are lying - just maybe refusing to admit the scary truth to themselves.

you're not flawed. well, i can't speak for you in totality, but this part? normal.

Dad said...

I think back with faulty memory
to nights too quickly lost
lost sleep
lost temper
lost sanctity
and at times, no doubt, lost mind

I think back with fading memory
to frustrations created over time
when will she sleep through the night?
when will the other not wake me up at 5 am
when will they just go to BED and stay there!
and please, please, just be quite for once!!!!

I think back with forced memory
to feelings of inadequacy and failure
was I too harsh?
why did I get so angry over that little thing?
why didn’t I just do it differently
and how can my children possibly be normal with a dad like me?

I think back with fond memory
to times of pure delight
her joy at holding a golden puppy for the first time
her running into my arms for a hug and cuddle
her eyes and face sparking with the pleasure
of the gift created and given at Christmas
and her tears of pain erased in the comfort of my arms

I think back with focused memory
to the wonder of forgiveness and relationship
from crying from discipline to laughing from play
from slamming the door out of anger to cuddling out of love and forgiveness
from turning away to running into my arms
and from desiring distance to wanting relationship

I thing about now to the wonder of children grown
despite me, and because of me in part, they are adults with their own
gifts and faults
joys and struggles
past and future
and the wonder of it all they still love me and I them!

All this thinking is good to do for someone my age
for I can put into perspective those things in the past
pain and joy
exasperation and exhilaration
war and peace
and rejection and love

For I realize that the fire of that forge
helped mold me and make me into who I am today
a better person because of
your love
your forgiveness
your friendship
and your presence in my life

I love you. Your poem captured it perfectly!

Rachael said...

This is simply beautiful. You are not flawed--nighttime parenting is hard and stressful. But you kiss you child’s face and promise to try again. And that is what brought a tear to my eye.

You are a good mom; I can feel your emotions, your strengths and your insecurities in your writing. You are a good mom.

I think the key is to know that we are going to fail at times, going to be less than perfect parents at times (even a lot of times) but that is ok. All of the good things we do keep balance.

And we try again tomorrow. Try to be better--and we are.

And go Dad, that was also well written and so true and honest.

Arby said...

None of this parenting thing is easy. Your dad captured many of my feelings as a father. The guilt and fear that I carry from those days when I was a screaming, irrational lunatic because I was on my fourth day of getting home from work at 1 a.m. and I was up with the kids at 6 a.m. is beyond my ability to describe. I am grateful to God that we are now in a position where I do not have to work, but it took us 10 of my son’s 12 years to get there. He’s paid a heavy price. You do not have the luxury of a second set of hands to relieve you when the nights get long, so your burden is that much more stressful. And you still love your children.

MomZombie said...

What a beautiful way to put in words what most of us (in the same boat) are uttering in crude mutters and curses under our breath. I have a sharp memory of the first few night feedings of my first-born daughter. It is one in which I am filled with dread and despair that I'll never be able to do this, that I just want to quit. Now my baby is driving a car and I long for the days when I could cradle her little body in my arms. I think some parenting experiences gain lacy edges and pink glows in our memories.

LoriM said...

Reading this again while cutting and pasting to share with my mom (who doesn't have continuous Internet access but does keep in touch with YOUR mom thru email!) and smiled again at this phrase, "shadowing of soul brightens with forgiveness"

So true.

Oo! Love your dad's poem too. Will cut and paste that to Mom, too.

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