For all those parents who have lost their baby boys

I wrote this poem years ago for a friend, pregnant, who learned she was carrying a son.

Today, I’d like to dedicate it to the parents who lost their baby boys to a senseless act of violence at Pulse in Orlando. And I’d like to go further and also dedicate it to every parent who has lost their precious child in such an unspeakable way: while at school, in a movie theatre, living in or visiting Paris and Brussels, travelling on airplanes, fighting in uniform overseas, and in so many other equally tragic events too numerous to list here.

My heart breaks for you. I really can’t begin to imagine.

butterly monarch pixabay
My Baby Boy

You’re a butterfly, my baby boy,
The way you dance inside of me.
Soon you’ll emerge from your cocoon,
to be loved by us unconditionally.

Can you feel the joyful longing
that awaits you on that day?
I will count your toes and fingers
and rejoice that all is okay.

I’ll cradle you so gently
in the circle of my arms.
You’ll feel my fervent promise
to protect you from all harm.

baby feet pixabay
I will marvel at your silken skin
and stroke your downy head,
Sing lullabies and rock you,
Keep you warm and dry and fed.

I’ll bandage knees when they’ve been skinned,
and wipe away your tears,
Teach you about rights and wrongs,
and help to ease your fears.

No matter what your mischief,
when I look into your eyes,
Love will blossom in my heart,
and turn my scolds to sighs.

boy and teddy pixabay
School plays, long summer days,
High school will soon arrive,
Rebellion, hormones, hockey, girls,
and teaching you to drive.

As time whittles the years away,
I’ll need to set you free,
and have faith that I have raised you
to be the best that you can be.

With tears of pride and adoration,
I’ll then uncap my jar,
to free my precious butterfly—
proud of the fine young man you are.

butterfly pixabay

 

When the baby bird spreads her wings for college

My girl has long finished her stints at both university and college, and has worked as an advertising copywriter at an agency for several years now. But I will never forget that turning point in our lives—her transition from my high school baby girl to my college big girl.

Just like that, I was no longer required to meet with her teachers, attend functions at her school, be on top of the day-to-day minutiae of her life. All of it came to an abrupt standstill on the late August afternoon that we dropped her and all her worldly possessions off at the two-hours-away campus dorm where she would live for the next few years.

I was still waving goodbye through the back window of the car as she dwindled to nothing more than a wide grin in the distance. I’d been anticipating my first taste of that glorious newfound freedom that’s part and parcel with being an empty nester, so it came as a huge surprise to find myself bursting into tears the moment my girl was completely out of sight. Mind you, my grief didn’t last long, but I know now that those tears were my final acknowledgement of our rite of passage from roots to wings.

With that said, here’s a glimpse of the college experience through a mom’s eyes.

college_courtesy of gratisography.comMy College Girl

Two years have passed quicker than a sigh since my baby girl left home to embrace campus life. The fact that she found it so effortless to sever what was left of the umbilical cord between us speaks volumes about my child-rearing skills. As they say, “It’s your job to give them roots and wings.” I know I’ve accomplished that task. The real hardship has been with growing wings of my own.

girl_courtesy of images.unsplash.com:by Julia CaesarShe doesn’t call as often as I’d like her to, caught up as she is in her exciting whirlwind of a life, so when the phone rings and I hear her voice chirping from the answering machine, I toss aside my newspaper, leap from my wing chair and scramble to reach the phone before she hangs up.

I greet her with laughter in my voice. It always happens like this: a cascade of questions flood my mind, surging dangerously like a tsunami toward my lips. I struggle to keep the dam barricaded. If I slip and my questions break free, I know she will fly quickly above the tide and recede with it back to her perch on the other side of the ocean that separates us.

Instead, I try my best to spin interesting stories about an uninteresting week. I hope this will be enough to keep her on my side of the ocean for now. In return, she spins stories of her own, feeding me safe snippets of a life that, I have no doubt, is far more exciting than I’d ever care to know.

We laugh together as she relates a lecture hall incident. Since I’ve been a pretty cool cat so far—no gifts of unsolicited advice to ruffle any feathers—the olive branch she extends is my reward. She tells me about a boy. A boy with soft, brown eyes and a talent for clever banter. He makes her laugh.1280px-Pāhoehoe_lava_meets_Pacific

Oh my. How the dam ruptures!

I need to know: his name…first and last…the color of his hair…his career aspirations…his family pedigree. Soft, brown eyes and a great sense of humor is simply not enough to keep the tsunami in check.

I can almost hear the squeak of her eyes as they roll in their sockets. I’ve blown it. There is nothing more to tell. He’s just a boy.

courtesy of Andrew SchmidtThe wave crashes onward. What about your test? Essay grades? You missed a class? Why? Walking alone at night? Are you mad? You spent how much this week? You’re not coming home till when?

She stops my barrage with a sudden urgency to prepare for her next class. Her tone is abrupt and final. The swell settles immediately into a drip, drip, drip of dismal regrets.bridge_courtesy of images.unsplash.com:by Modestas Urbonas

The phone lines bulge and ripple with hurried exchanges of I Miss You. I Love You.

We disconnect and fly back to our separate shorelines.

Pterodroma_cervicalis_-_SE_TasmaniaBaby bird has mastered the art of flight, but Mama bird still has a lot to learn.

 

 

 

Photo acknowledgements:
1. Courtesy of http://www.gratisography.com
2. Water baby, courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com
3. Courtesy of images.unsplash.com/by Julia Caesar
4. Pāhoehoe lava meets Pacific, courtesty of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Featured_pictures/Natural_phenomena
5. Wave, courtesy of Andrew Schmidt
6. Bridge, courtesy of images.unsplash.com/by Modestas Urbonas
7. “Pterodroma cervicalis, SE Tasmania” by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons-https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pterodroma_cervicalis_-_SE_Tasmania.jpg#/media/File:Pterodroma_cervicalis_-_SE_Tasmania.jpg
8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Featured_pictures/Natural_phenomena Pāhoehoe_lava_meets_Pacific

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