I Did My Best

My child, you are so precious to me.

You were created because of a dream, one born out of the love your father and I shared. I carried you in my womb for nine months. I experienced physical sickness and pain. I worried about you so much, I ached inside. I prayed that God would protect you from all the hurt and disappointment and grief I experienced in my youth, all the while knowing deep down that pain would be a necessary teacher in your life. I watched you on the screen during every ultrasound, in awe, in humility, in shock. How could I be in charge of this little person, this precious, helpless, impressionable person? Flawed creature that I am, I knew I would make mistakes. And the very thought terrified me. Still, I determined to do my best. Because I love you, my child.

Little One, you are so fragile.

I watched your mother give birth, helpless to ease her pain, unable to shoulder even an ounce of that burden. But I held her hand and I cheered her on when she thought she had given all that she could. And, together, we welcomed you into this harsh, demanding, unforgiving world. We brought you home, rearranged our lives around you. We made a promise as we stood over your sleeping little form. We would do everything in our power to make you feel loved. We would create a safe haven for you, a home you would always want to come back to. We would give you every good thing that was in our power to give and teach you every good thing our parents taught us, maybe more. We were just children ourselves, still learning what it meant to be adults. But we wanted to do our best for you. Because we love you, Little One.

My child, be patient with me.

I know it seems like I say “no” more than I say “yes.” But it’s only because there is so much out there that can hurt you and I’m afraid. I trust God can keep you safe, but I also understand that He will allow certain things to come into your life in order to shape you. Certain things that I would do everything in my power to help you avoid. I see only what’s right in front of you while He sees it all. It’s so hard to guide you down this dark road with only the light from my very dim headlights to show us the way. It’s so hard for me to let go. Sometimes I think I’m doing well, while other times I’m so sure I’m an absolute failure as a mother. But I’m doing my best. Because I love you, my child.

Little One, listen to me.

There’s so much I want to teach you, so much I’ve learned that I’m sure will benefit you. Why do you scoff and turn away? Why do you insist on doing things by yourself? Don’t you trust me? I’m trying to help, to give you the knowledge I wish my father had given me, to ease your way through this life. I’ve looked forward to teaching you since the day you were born. Please, don’t rob me of this. I want you to become a good, smart, resourceful, person and this is the only way I know how. But I can’t help you if you don’t let me. Can’t you see I’m doing my best here? I love you, Little One.

My child, forgive me.

In my exhaustion and desperation, I’ve made poor choices. Our lives are not simple; sometimes our circumstances only serve to bring out the worst in us. And I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry. You deserve someone better as a mother but you got stuck with me. Please, don’t shut me out. Every moment we spend together is priceless. I promise I’m still trying my best. I love you, my child.

Little One, understand me.

I never knew fatherhood would be this hard. I struggle to discipline you. I struggle to find common ground. I struggle to express myself in a clear and healthy manner. Only now am I realizing that my father had the same issues I’m having now. He never taught me how to overcome this because he never figured it out himself. But maybe he was just trying his best too. No matter what happens, never doubt that I love you, Little One.

My child, you are amazing.

I know it’s only by the grace of God that you flourish. You have your vices, you have your flaws, but you are also talented and smart and brave. And I’m so proud of you. Soon you’ll be venturing out on your own but I’ll be here for you whenever you need me. It’s still hard for me to let go, I’ll admit. But I’ll do my best to give you the independence you’ve always wanted. Because I love you, my child.

Little One, you’ve come so far.

You became your own person right under my nose. Stand tall but stay humble. There’s much to be thankful to God for. We had some bumps along the way; sometimes I felt like bopping you upside the head, but I’m glad I did my best for you. I love you, Little One.

Mom, Dad, I used to think you were so exasperating.

There was a certain comfort in the circle of your arms but the allure of the outside world was so very strong. I couldn’t wait to break free. But the truth is? I didn’t know what you were going through. I couldn’t understand how you felt. I could only see my side of things and I lashed out at you when I felt wronged. I can’t say how sorry I am for every angry or hurtful thing I said to you. Because I have a kid now and I’m learning that I don’t know anything about this incredibly gratifying, yet equally impossible task that is parenthood. Looking back, I can see that you were only doing your best. Thanks for that.

I love you both.

Lost

Trapped in cyberspace, where ideas are plentiful

More numerous than the fish in the sea

Each has a voice, a platform, a goal

All of them much louder than me

In many ways the world inside a computer

Is larger than the one outside

Though I work hard and persistently harder

I find myself falling by the wayside

So many people have more interesting things to say

Where do I fit in? How can I compete?

This was never a game I wanted to play

But to unplug now would be admitting defeat

“Follow others” “Be yourself” “Write what you know”

I do this week after week after week

Is there another secret? Everyone says, “No!

Do that and be patient; you’ll have what you seek.”

So I write and post and read and comment

All the while watching the number of views

Smiling despite the inner voice, crying out in lament

How long can I keep this up before I lose

Hope of ever making my mark?

Lost in the cacophony, am I alone?

 

Public Speaking

She sits in a circle with her coworkers

An informal meeting has been called

It’s a time of sharing positive experiences

Encouraging one another

Reminding each other why they do the work that they do

She feels like a child among them

Awkward and shy

They are wiser, stronger, more courageous

More adult-like than she

She’s afraid to speak and betray her immaturity

So she listens and smiles and nods

She’s touched that they thought to include her

Touched that they thought her worthy

Even as she doubts it herself

Always she’s felt like an outsider looking in

Now she sits among them

Does she truly belong?

The voice of a childhood bully still whispers at the back of her mind

It joins the voice of Insecurity, chants the same lies

“You’ll never fit in. You don’t matter. Nothing you say is important.”

She has been told the truth

She is loved

She is appreciated

She is important

Still, she wrestles with these deprecating voices in her head

There is a lull in the conversation

An idea forms in her mind

Presses against the back of her throat

Turns into words

They cry out to her, begging for release

Heat rises around her neck

Spreads across either side of her face

 

Her mouth is very dry

Her heart pounds painfully against her chest

She swallows and opens her mouth

The words spill out, tumbling over each other

In their haste to escape

She can hardly hear them

There is only the powerful rush of blood in her ears

Coworkers nod and hmm in support or agreement

At last the deed is done

Her words, once captives, drift across the room and dissipate

She closes her mouth, forces herself to breathe evenly

Waits for the criticism

It doesn’t come from them but from within herself

“You should’ve spoken more slowly.”

“You should’ve raised your voice.”

“You shouldn’t have spoken at all.”

Despite the thoughts that cut deep

She is relieved, elated, overjoyed

Because they didn’t laugh

Her coworkers smile at her

As if what she said mattered

As if they’re glad she spoke

She smiles back because they can’t know what they’ve done

They can’t know how much this means to her

That they would listen

That they would care

She is so thankful

She wants to remember this feeling

Maybe, next time, she’ll speak again

The plight of the married couple (I think this counts as poetry…)

They march about the house,

Soldiers pacing their designated wall.

With barely a glance at each other

They go about their business, big or small.

You wouldn’t know it if you peeked in,

But they’re married and madly in love.

A slip of the tongue, a word unsaid,

The wrong gift or lack thereof

Upsets the wife, frustrates the husband.

They stew and huff and grumble and then

An argument pushes them over the edge.

Where is your tolerance, your ability to bend?

It must have died at the end of your dating.

Didn’t you marry him because he was the best?

Didn’t you marry her

Because she was kinder than the rest?

How easily you both forgot!

Remember the silly girl you fell for,

The one who obsessed about her hair.

Remember the guy who opened the door

Let you go in first, let you have your way

Happily you once apologized and forgave

So she said the wrong thing to your mother,

So he left the sink dirty after his shave.

You were human then and you are human now.

Don’t yell, accuse, or bargain

Remember how it was then, let go, forgive

And try again.

An abecedarius inspired by my sister’s cat

Anxiety makes her shy away from even the gentlest of hands

But she desperately tries to escape her confinement

Chirping her strange version of a meow, she advances then retreats

“Don’t touch me, but I’m lonely,” she seems to say

Exasperating cat! What am I to do with you?

Fat wobbles from side to side as she dodges me

Giving in, at last, she lopes back into the cage

Hatred and fear shine in the eyes visible through the metal grate

I’m suddenly overwhelmed with sympathy

Just last week, I thought she’d join our family

Kicking through the bushes, I found her

Leaves and webs peppered her dark fur

Mud coated her little, white paws

No blood drew the eye to cuts or scrapes

Other than her skittishness, she seemed perfectly normal

Perhaps that’ll go away in time, I thought as I ushered her through the door

Quality food and pampering can fix any animal

Remember when I said ‘last week?’

She is this way still, maybe more so

Treating her kindly or with frustration changes nothing

Unfortunately, I’m nearing my wits end with this cat

Venting about it to my husband doesn’t help

“We should just turn her in to the animal shelter,” he said

“X-rays and medical treatment is what she really needs.”

“You’re probably right,” I murmur, glancing at the cat

Zestfulness or the lack of aren’t the best reasons to get rid of an animal

And yet, how can I love something that doesn’t exactly want to be loved?

Because someone who fights love is someone who needs it the most, I realize

Come what may, I will love this cat

Dedication might just be what changes her in the end.