Sunday, April 8, 2018

Because poetry is cheaper than therapy

People tell me all the time, "You're such a great mom!" Memo to those folks: my kid wants to run track at school and I told her that she can do it, but only if she takes the city bus home. I'm pretty sure a great mom would figure out a way to pick her ass up. I sometimes wonder if people believe that an adoptive mom needs extra encouragement. I dunno. I think all moms appreciate hearing that despite all the yelling and all the times we let our children eat doughnuts for dinner . . . we're doing okay.

I haven't been writing a lot of blog posts recently. One reason is that my daughter is getting older (13 in a few weeks!) and I think her privacy is more important now than it was when she was a toddler who pooped her pants on the regular. The other is that I'm finally writing that book that everyone always tells me I should write. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I'm enjoying the challenge.

At my church we have an annual "Poetry Sunday." It's basically just what you think it is - a celebration of poetry. I am a fairly crappy poet. I know I was an English major and all that, but I've never written a lot of poetry. However, I threw together a piece for this year's service and read it to the congregation today. So, here 'tis:


Convinced I was carrying a boy, I named him Seth Patrick
Deep brown eyes like his dad, but with my completely reasonable nose
I watched the ultrasound monitor closely, squinting at the foreign images
The room was dark, the paper-covered pillow crinkling beneath my head
The doctor pointed, a tiny flutter. “The heart,” she said, matter-of-factly

Soon, that flickering heartbeat fell silent, my wailing the only sound
We had tried before and would try again, not comprehending the futility
Four tiny spirits tried to break through, each flying away in succession
A cliche, I know, but my arms ached for the infant I would never hold
I gently shook a toy frog in the nursery, a soft chime emanating from its belly

We sat across the desk from the social worker at the adoption agency
“Start with these forms,” she said, sliding them across with a smile
Months were spent with forms, home visits, security checks
I created a photo album about our lives for pregnant women to peruse
I was careful not to make us look too poor, too religious, too anything

“A birthmom wants to meet you!” The social worker was almost breathless
Days later we sat in plastic chairs at the agency, nervous and afraid
Did I have lipstick on my teeth? Did I look like a woman who could care for a baby?
J arrived shortly thereafter, her blue-green eyes and ready smile putting us at ease
“I know your baby will be beautiful,” I remarked, wondering if it was okay to say

I cried at my desk at work when the official word came. We had been chosen
I painted the nursery and confided in the frog with a chime in its belly
Would she change her mind? Would she decide that I wasn’t meant to be a mom after all?
Days clicked by. I stared at my phone around the clock, wondering when labor might begin
The due date passed and an induction was scheduled. The baby was in no hurry

On May third, Patrick and I stood at the foot of J's hospital bed, making small talk
We endeavored to be respectful, lighthearted, not at all presumptuous
At 5, we retreated to the cafeteria for dinner, though we were not hungry
Suddenly, a rush of excitement. “She wants you in the room!” We scurried to the elevator
At 5:56 PM, a pouty-lipped baby girl made her debut, her tiny red fists punching the air

My arms, all at once, stopped aching. The ache, perhaps, had been passed to J
My soaring joy would be forever tied directly to her abject sorrow, and we both knew it
I caught my breath and then called my mom on her recently-acquired cell phone
I tried to keep my voice steady when she answered.
“Mom,” I said. “Would you like to hear about my daughter?”

1 comment:

Rhonda Leet said...

This is profound! I am so honored to have been able to touch your child's life, if only for a short time. She is beautiful, smart, funny & talented. Love, Mrs. Leet