Poem: Parents

** Update: The audio track for this poem can be heard here: http://avalovehanna.com/spoken-word-parents/

I’m a poet. Well, I used to be…Well, I still am… I’m just writing more essays and less poetry lately. But, I paid a lot of money to study poetry at a private university, completed a 90 page Master’s thesis chock full of poetry, and my work has been published. So there’s that.

My background is in performance and poetry, so here’s a piece that I’ve done at a few readings. I’ll upload an audio track of it soon.

Parents

It’s funny how at parties, those who are parents

will swap stories about their past exploits

and someone will inevitably joke that

life is over when you have a baby –

but, he or she probably isn’t really joking,

and even though all the other parents

in the room laugh, there’s a tiny awkward moment

 

when every single parent in that room

looks down into his or her drink,

breathes in the acrid breath of mourning,

and grieves for youth,

for freedom,

 

for lost sleep, for long, hot showers,

and meals that never ever included macaroni and cheese.

 

Some will remember walking naked through the house,

or drinking too much, or cussing,

or the blissful sound of nothing,

nothing at all, just rare and precious silence.

 

Then they will catch themselves,

racked with guilt, assume they are

alone in this misery, because everyone

else must love being a parent;

 

so to make up for it they share stories

about how Brittany did the cutest thing,

or how Michael is reading at a fifth grade level.

 

Instead of baby showers,

parents should be given funerals

to mourn the death of their freedom,

their youth,

their sanity.

 

And there in the face of the impending change

can there finally be brutal honesty:

 

about how beautiful and horrible it is to be a parent,

about how much energy it takes to grow a person,

about how they will love and hurt, and love and hurt,

that they will feel stronger and

weaker than they ever knew possible,

feel tired, feel old, feel wasted,

 

feel like this is the most important thing they have ever done,

and how it’s okay to sometimes cry and to miss themselves.

 

The eulogy will tell them

they are gone, but not forgotten,

 

and the banner draped across the coffins will read:

their children will be richer for having known them.

Ava Love Hanna

Ava Love Hanna

Ava Love Hanna is a writer, storyteller, and performer in Austin, Texas. She really, really wants you to use the Oxford comma.
Ava Love Hanna

5 Comments

  1. Christina Ivey

    May 16, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this or not, but I really love and admire your work. Your honesty makes me feel guilty somehow for not approaching my work with the same conviction. So, thanks for that. 🙂

    • Christina,
      Thank you! I’m a non-fiction writer, so I spent a long time not writing because I was afraid to write honestly… afraid to be vulnerable and over-disclose. Fortunately, I’ve been given a life both awesome enough and weird enough to write about!

  2. I’ll bet every parent has felt this way even fleetingly at some point or another, whether they admit it or not! Love it.

  3. I enjoyed this poem. Also, it helps me appreciate these last few precious years of childlessness. 😉 Thank you for sharing!

  4. This was beautiful. I’m not a parent yet, but I have friends who are and I have witnessed the drink stare down. I will be returning to your blog. I like the way you work your words. 🙂

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