I spent the last two and a half days
mostly sleeping through sinusitis
in the form of cold rain, kept creeping
The gentle deer was nowhere
to be seen.
Tonight I became the ogre,
not the fantasy earth mother
wrapping her children in dewey sleep.
Now I sit,
pitch darkness of cloudy moon,
thinking of the poems she wrote
before her bigness and my tiredness
clashed in the quiet night,
before she collapsed, after
fighting me, refusing bedtime,
and I came here to listen
for my own softness,
subject instead to flashing screens in my head
projecting future battles,
when all she probably wanted
was for me to lie down
and my resistance, two boxers in a clinch.
I want to say
there’s no right way to do this.
I am a good enough mama.
But sometimes still don’t believe it,
hold myself on the fatal hook
of the perfect mother
bound to fail.
So I threaten to take her whole allowance
and she tells me I’m so mean.
I don’t care!
she yells, storms, slams, rigid,
then reappears in the hallway,
red feet pajamas and a blue cowgirl hat,
saying she needs fresh air
or she’ll Never Go Outside Again.
No, I tell her. No, no, no, no, no.
Now who’s the child?
Mother’s Day has this way of reducing me
and teaching me
to let a hard night go, the way the rain goes,
the way sickness goes
Tomorrow: pancakes, soccer, birthday parties.
Off the hook.
Both of us.