THE FIRST TIME I EVER. . . (An Ode To All Mothers)
This is where I would shop
if my husband worked felling trees
for the mill, hurting himself badly
from time to time; where I would bring
my three kids; where I would push
one basket and pull another
because the boxes of diapers and cereal
and gallon milk jugs take so much room. . .
And I would think, hanging out the baby's
shirts and sleepers, and cranking the pulley
away from me, how it would be
to change lives with someone,
like the woman who came after us
in the checkout, thin, with lots of rings
on her hands, who looked us over openly.
Things would have been different
if I hadn't let Bob climb on top of me
for ninety seconds in 1979.
It was raining lightly in the state park
and so we were alone. The charcoal fire
hissed as the first drops fell. . .
In ninety seconds we made this life-
a trailer on a windy hill, dangerous jobs
in the woods or night work at the packing plant;
Roy, Kimberly, Bobby; too much in the hamper,
never enough in the bank.
-By Jane Kenyon
The first time I ever became a mother I waited for the thunderclap from the heavens above, for the ground to tremble and shake to herald the arrival of my darling little cherub. But no, it was very disappointing a big let-down, if truth be told. I'd been admonished all my growing-up years, Wait till you become a mother You'll know how it feels. . . My mom had twisted the knife every time I'd been disobedient or rebellious. I waited for the outpouring of love the blessedness of grace to embrace me as I gazed down at the twisting, writing red face of my seven-pound infant, who was screaming his lungs out like a banshee The way his toes twisted and curled reminded me of an ugly toad's webbed feet Is this what the craze is all about, I wondered? Is everybody in the world daft? The never-ending suckling at my breast The endless rounds of clean-up, foul-smelling waste and diaper changes The years of giving up of one's life, one's ambitions because somebody else's needs come before your own. There's no babbling joy in this, I pondered. And yet, now, as my last one prepares to leave home and I trade my busy, harried world of mom to two for that of an empty nester I realize how true it is. I feel scattered. . . I'm coming undone. . . I read this somewhere: To have a child is to forever have your heart go walking outside your body.