This is a poem I wrote about a year ago. I changed several things in it and wanted to share it again this week before Christmas. I am going to share three poems this week, three very personal poems, one for each of my kids. This one is for my oldest.
… because you’re going to dig your toes in one day,
You’re going to dig them in deep at the edge of the shore,
you’re going to feel the shift under your feet and you’re going to lose your balance and you’re going to steady yourself.
I know because I stood there too, I stood there and felt the waves try to pull me away as I steadied myself against the constant shifting of the sand,
… but this is not about me and where I stood, this is not about the waves that knocked me around. This is about the voice of that boy whispering, “I love you”, in the dark of the night and this is about the test that kept you up worrying and this is about your friend who stopped talking to you when she saw the way you looked at her boyfriend and this is about all the sleepless nights you have yet experienced — this is about you, my precious baby.
… because your phone will run out of battery one night,
the night you need it the most,
the night you pick it up to call me.
I’ll be waiting on the other end but my phone will never ring. I’ll look at the silence trickling off of it and I’ll wonder… I’ll get in my car because I’ll know where you are because we talk like that and you’ll see me driving up and you’ll scream at me in front of your friends but when you get in the car your screams will turn to tears of relief because I could hear you through the unused phone and then you’ll switch the radio in mid-cry as you gasp for more air to let it all out and The Maine will be on and we’ll start singing along and when we get home I’ll hear you skyping with your friends about how your “old” mom listens to The Maine and The Decemberists and all of your music and your friends will say you have a great mom and you’ll smile because you don’t see me in the hallway,
… but this isn’t about me. This isn’t about the unanswered calls I made and the tears of anger I cried. This is about you. This is about you balancing on that edge,
… because your friends will push you to think,
your friends will dare you to move and not all of them will want you to move in the right direction, not all of them will push you to see yourself the way they do. You will have to hear them yourself, my precious baby. You will have to make those choices yourself.
They will compel you to lie and laugh and run and skip and yell and curse and they will watch you stand on that edge… looking, deciding.
They will love you and they will hate you and they will leave you and they will return to you.
They will throw life at you and hope you’re ready because there are no do-over’s.
Your friends will be your world when you think I’m not around.
The waves will continue to pounce on you as you sink your toes in and you’ll reach your hand up to grasp hold of mine and you don’t see me… but I’m there.
You’ll say, “everything is fine”, but I’ll know it’s not.
You’ll say, “leave me alone”, when I know you need me to sit.
You’ll scream at me and curse me and wish for me to leave…
But I’ll know.
I’ll know the sand is shifting so fast you’re struggling to stay above the waves.
But today, today my precious baby.
I hold you and you let me and I see the future because it’s already my past and I’ll beg you to hear me,
I’ll beg you to listen to me because I made those mistakes already and I walked that road already and I lost all my inhibitions around that bonfire and I danced naked in the middle of that house and I pulled my hand back the first time it was slapped and I stood where the waves break the hardest and I screamed to be heard… already.
I’ll yell for you to “keep digging your toes in”!
This time, you’ll listen. You’ll stop… and you’ll listen.
This time, you’ll say, “my mother told me about the shifting sand”. And you’ll look down at your phone and it’s fully charged but you don’t need to use it, you don’t need to call for me. And I’ll be looking at my phone too but it won’t ring.
And I’ll smile.
And I’ll stretch out my fingers as far as I can but I’ll never be able to grasp on…