Tag Archives: parenting

Eyed Up

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Standing at the edge of the soccer field
She swung her rope
Jumped
Jumped again
Varying her speed to vary her heart rate
Intense bursts followed by leisurely hops
She kept her eyes on her son’s practice
His perspiring brow mirroring her own
As he sprinted towards the goal

Other eyes were on her
Some of the moms
Some of the dads
Some dads’ eyes lingering
Assuming she performed for them
Versus her health
Her form fitting yoga pants and sports shirt
Selected by her for comfort
And to insure her clothing didn’t obstruct her workout
Kept her safe and cool
Moved well with her
And made her feel confident
Must really have been slipped into
They believed
To entice men to stop and stare
Excite a biological imperative to ogle each curve
And assess her attractiveness
Her motives
Her worth

How shameful for a busy mom
To multitask on a beautiful day
Attend her son’s practice
And still fit in some exercise
Before stopping at the store
To pick up her family’s own groceries
As well as those of her elderly mother
Swing by her mom’s place to drop off the bags
Carry them all in and unload them
And encourage her sweaty, antsy son to sit by his grandma
And swap stories about their day
As she threw out the expired yogurt and milk in the fridge
Print so small her mom could never spot the spoil
Change her sheets
Fill her mom’s pill box for the week
And make sure she had everything she needs

Finally, setting out her trash cans on the curb
Before climbing back in her car
To rush home in time to prepare dinner
For her two hungry boys and hungrier husband
Put her own groceries away
Then run her other son to swim practice
And remain poolside to praise his progress
Before heading back home and throwing in two loads of laundry
Paying the bills
While helping both boys with their homework
Fill out permissions slips for upcoming field trips
Clean up after the dog in the yard before the sun set
And throw a ball for their ancient spaniel to chase
Scratch her belly and giving her a treat
Pack everyone’s lunches for the next day
Fold the now clean laundry and set it atop appropriate dressers
Load the dishwasher
Wipe off the counters
Ask her husband about his day
And talk about his frustration with his boss
And the state of the country
And their shared distaste over the unfathomable resurgence of high-waisted jeans
Finalize the schedule for the upcoming weekend
To determine which parent is taking which child to which game
As they perfectly conflict on Saturday
Before she set out her clothes for the next day
So when she gets up before the sun rises
She won’t need to turn on the light
And disturb her husband as she gets ready for work
Sets out the cereal boxes and bowls for the family
Rinses blueberries and places them in the center of the table
Along with a note, “Love you all. Boys, please turn in the signed permissions slips that I put in your folders in your backpacks or you won’t be able to go on the trip to Philly. Have a wonderful day!”
And heads out the door in the still dark
To go make money
To help pay for the team fees and the groceries and the gas
And veterinarian bills

Please
Let us judge this mom
Let’s put pictures of her jumping rope on social media
Let’s assume she chose to stand where she stood so everyone could best see her
Instead of where she had room to jump and still see the field
And let’s talk to all of our friends about her disparagingly
Criticize her for her ostentatious show
Of fitness and a concern for her own health and wellbeing
As she carries the weight of her family
On her capable, well defined shoulders every day
With enthusiasm and love

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Pictographs

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You wouldn’t know it from the photographs,
moments chosen so they wouldn’t forget,
not to deceive. Corroborative images showing
that they smiled and laughed. Incontestable
evidence that despite assiduous heartache,
joy and hope burrowed in and fought
to regain solid purchase.

NaPoWriMo Day 18

A Winter Morning

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it started small
an idea
a project
a match

soon the flames could not be contained

from kindling to logs
it roared and grew

each fresh sheaf of paper
crumpled and pitched
at its burning heart
extended its margins
until the raging orange
began to lick beyond the stone box and metal door
to the mantel wood
than mocha walls and freshly painted ceiling

still she stood
fists full of reports
and assessments
neatly checked boxes and gray graphs
used to justify investment
and calculate worth

as the smoke alarms blared
in trilling sequence
she took a deep breath of thick air
coughed and smiled
as the words by her feet ignited

her work
finally complete

 

NaPoWriMo Day 5

League Apart

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At 21,
I imagined her in college
or backpacking in Belize
working some 9-to-5 job that she loved or hated
so that she could earn enough money to cover her rent
and the cost of clubbing with her friends
making art and living in our basement
joining AmeriCorps and teaching children how to read
spending hours wandering in museums for inspiration
rarely leaving her room because she was so engrossed in creating new apps
or music
or poetry
or never being home because her social needs were so high that she was always out
in the world and we wished at least once a month she’d stop long enough to eat dinner with us
as a young, single, loving mother
on a boat in rough seas with Greenpeace protecting whales
married
researching grad school programs and stressing over paying back student loans
single and ambivalent about the status
obsessed with locating and meeting her birth parents
working in a tattoo parlor
preparing for medical school
skating in the Olympics
building a tiny house with her girlfriend near the edge of a lake next to the greenest forest
base jumping in every continent

All is less than optimal
it is not the future
that any parent imagines

I didn’t envision
the organ failure
or cancer
the speech therapy
and special education services
wrapping my arms around my tiny-in-frame but adult-in-age daughter
as she buried her head against my stomach
her body shaking
as we went to visit
the program she’ll enter
when she graduates from high school in June

My language is foreign to my peers
they struggle to understand and respond
mishear my hope and optimism
as acceptance or surrender
to this abrading future

Although I’ve learned to mine the joy and beauty
in the oddest of overlooked cracks
no dreams have been conceded
as I attempt to swallow with some grace
each of these real days

 

February 3, 2017
Julie Ayers

On Mothering A Son In February

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The belling pink flowers
in the ceramic purple vase
are still fresh
like your words

You grinned metal
as you rushed up the stairs
Saturday
bouquet in hand

When we hugged
my head reached
only your shoulder
The wonder of oatmeal

and years
a needlepoint of patience
with requisite tatters
eggs must be broken

Each day is played out
the same
you love me
you love me not

February 2016
Julie Ayers

Design Flaws

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I wish I were different
a more gifted mother
who could crack the world wide
for my tremble fingered children
their hands not designed for a lifetime
of tumbling standard locks

Instead I am just this
remedial version mother
well-intentioned
and tremble hearted
not optimally designed for a lifetime
that demands single-touch cures and water walking

July 2015
Julie Ayers

size of it

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the envelope looked innocent
the size of a birthday or condolence card
opened easily
announcement slipping out
and into her palm

a baby picture
a cap and gown
a proud to announce

they’d been pregnant at the same time
both nurturing all that promise
discussing life alterations ahead
the early mornings and diaper pails
the farewell to spontaneity and happy
hour therapy sessions

girls born just months apart
became separated
by more than a decade
gap ever-widening
one getting her driver’s license
while the other finally mastered
tying her shoes

she set the invitation on the table
walked over and kissed
the top of her daughter’s head
bowed over a coloring book
and thought –
forgive them
they know not what they do

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 9

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