** 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.
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 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,
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.