Sometimes the Writer's Almanac is spookily targeted to my current mood or situation or something I've been mulling over.
We've been going through a rough patch with Josie - she often doesn't nap at all at daycare and gets home a complete mess -- exhausted and cranky. She's been waking up at night too, hungry or in agony from constipation. We, in turn, are exhausted. Her eczema is flaring and she's red, scaly, and itchy. She and C pinch, push, and hit each other - even the hugs turn to too-tight squeezes. The minutes rush from frustration and exasperation to big smiles and hilarious commentary ('dis is too bicy for my mouf! [too spicy for my mouth!]) The last lines of this poem resonate because to me they reference not just the tremendous joy and love children bring, but also maddening and occasionally terrifying frustration and anxiety.
You Should Avoid Young Children
by Claire Keys
Because they fill their diapers
with reliable ease, sitting on your lap
or spread out on your best mattress.
Guilt is as foreign to them as vichyssoise.
Because they spread sticky fingers
over the piano keys, looking for you
to hoist them onto your lap. They slam
the ivories for the racket they can make.
Re-think your nap.
Because they are blank slates
on which so much waits to be written,
their eyes opened wide to take everything in,
including the lines around your eyes,
the pouches under your chin.
Because they manipulate the controls
on the TV, finger the holes in the electric socket,
stomp the cat’s switching tail only to smile
and gaze at you as if you held the keys to joy.
Because you can embrace them, but
you can’t bind them. Because they have nothing
to give you—and everything. Because
something loosens when they come around.
Something opens you didn’t know was shut.
p.s. Every gripe and complaint is grounded in gratitude for this good fortune - I am so thankful for this happy, healthy family. And for daycare :)