to great moms everywhere

Dear Friend,

Happy Mother's Day.

You are a great mom
is what I'm supposed to say.

I wrote it in a card today
and immediately frowned, angry
that I'd written in pen.

Whenever someone tells me
you're a great mom
my first thought is:
you have no idea;
the only thing you know about my parenting
is the parenting I have chosen to perform for you.

And my second thought is:
so you've been evaluating me?
So you've formed an opinion on the matter?

You're a great mom
feels like
we've all been observing your choices.
Yep, you've been scored
by everyone you trusted when you were low
and hey - good news!
We have decided
you pass.
Keep up the good work.

Pride demands
I toss my head
when it's patted like that.
Good girl.

Today, my dear friend,
my mother, my comrade,
the day we're supposed to get so many bouquets
and accolades, you need to hear me say:

you're not a great mom.

A great mom
is someone who aged out
of the braided hair of a good girl.

You are not a great mom.
You are not

You're not smooth,
or delighted by simplicity.

You are not a great mom.
Your benevolence is not bottomless.
You forget things.
Your temper is a force.
You're afraid.

You're not great
like a great cookie recipe
that's been tuned to perfection.

You're not great
like a great novel
that's been edited
and scrapped
and pieced back together
within a pleasing cover.

You are great
like the force of gravity,
like the universe
that we live in
but cannot know.

Like an army,
gut-trusting and sharp,
millions of eyes,
millions of arms.

You drop your compass.
You fall to the earth and scrabble,
dust in your eyes.
You growl "fuck!"

You are great
and terrible,
a tempest.

Tonight you pour a glass of water,
your first for the day.
The child reaches for it,
says please.

You give it. 
The cup can be refilled.


You say no.
This is mine
You drink while he cries.
The cup can be refilled.

You are great
like the tide.
You rear up,
you swell,
and all the shattered fragments
return to shore in your body.

You are the force
that moves the enormous cradle
where everything was born.

You are in pain.

When the baby cries
there's nothing to do but rise for him.
Because you are great
like the sun:
consuming yourself,

You are not a great mom.
You are not a great anything.
You are great.

You are great
and powerful.
You count to three.
Your fingers snap.
You hold a cloth
under the cold tap,
press it to his lip,
and watch the blood bloom.

You sit on the ground
any ground.
You rock him.
You press your lips to him.
You sing.
You are a fortress.

You, my friend.
I'm talking about you.

You are in the city,
a child on each hip,
and crowds part for you.
Your legs devour the ground
in long, strong strides.
Your children ride on you
as if you were their elephant.
You sweat.
You sing.

You see the backyard gate standing open.
You run.
The world better pray
your boys are okay
because you are great
and savage.

They wander in the empty street.
You scoop them up,
a child on each hip,
and you do not tear them to pieces
because you are great
and shaking.

Someone says
you are a great mom.

When I hear that I think
someone thinks we are a simple thing,
complete and content
within four walls.

You are great
like the world is great,
holding everything that has ever been born
in its body.

You are the heart.
Not the paper valentine.
The thundering drum.

When someone calls you
a great mom
know that what they mean is this:
you are great.

This is my work.

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with Ronit Feinglass Plank

1 comment:

  1. WOAH. This is divine Katie. Divine and powerful. I'm not a mom but I'm sending this to my mom friends.