A Letter To My Son

There are so many things about God I am unlearning right now, just at the time that I am supposed to be teaching you. There are so many things that I do not want to pass down to you.

And yet, there are some things that I really, really want you to know:

I want you to know that you are held.
I want you to know that there is a Love out there that will still envelop you, no matter how long you freefall in a dark space.
I don’t want to tell you that if you have enough faith that everything will turn out alright.
Because, in my experience, it won’t,
and that expectation will become a dagger in your heart.
I don’t want to tell you that you’re going to be healed.
Because, sometimes you will be, and sometimes you won’t.
And sometimes the people you love will be, and sometimes they won’t.
And there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.
I can say this:
Sometimes you’ll get the miracle you ask for.
And it will blow your mind wide open and fill your heart with wonder and gratitude.
But sometimes you won’t get that miracle.
Sometimes the Worst Possible Thing will happen.
And it will tear your heart wide open and leave your mind stumbling.
But in those times, you’ll find a different sort of miracle – a quieter one but in no way less wondrous.
The miracle is that the Love I told you about will be there in that horrible, horrible void.
That it will wrap itself around you while the whole world falls apart.
And that at some point, you will get up off the floor.
At some point, you will get dressed.
At some point, you will walk back out into the world.
And when you do, you’ll be a little more tender. And your roots will stretch a little deeper.
And you’ll have a power possessed only by people who have been to dark places:
the ability to really see another person.
And to sit with them in a dark place.
And be Love there.
And that’s one of the most important gifts you can give the world.

a call for help in a time of deconstruction

God who holds everything together
by whom molecules bind 
and firing neurons form thoughts
Inventor of toddler snuggles
and loving glances
by whom rocks banging together can result in 
spring thaws
the living sound of water escaping snow under a late february sun
of birds, giddy with newness, in competition for the most weightless song
incursions of purple into a wasteland of white 
as the crocuses sense that something is coming
it’s coming
there’s snow on the ground
but we know that it’s coming
and you can’t tell us otherwise

God by whom I have been seen
God who has met me 
on the floor of that apartment
on the way to that hospital
who has not required of me 
perfect dogma
who has only asked me 
to accept comfort
and to know peace
who at times when there was no floor 
has told me that I would not fall forever
who has shown me that 
even when it is not alright
somehow still I am alright

I’ll call you by the names I know
but I do not expect the name that I call matters 
as much as that I call
and ask for a floor
just, at some point, a floor
and that when I land
I would not be alone











The Letter

I wrote a letter.

It is a business letter.

Not even a creative letter.

I wrote it for you to use on your committee.

Did you read it?

Have you seen it yet?

Please tell me it is wonderful. 

Not wonderful. That’s not it.

Please tell me it is The Best Letter That Anyone Has Ever Written.

Please tell me it is The Letter That Is Going To Change Everything.

I don’t write a lot of letters these days.

I wipe a lot of bottoms.

I sweep the same floor a lot of times.

I put the same clothes into the machine over, and over, and over again.

I really hope you like the letter.

Because I kind of stapled myself to it.

What Motherhood Isn’t

WiebeFam-147

I’m a few years into this motherhood thing now – long enough to have some thoughts about what motherhood is. Turns out it is difficult. More so than I thought it would be. It’s relentless, confusing, and isolating. It’s exhausting to the marrow. It empties me of all I have and then empties me some more, forcing me to scrape at the bedrock of my endurance and find what I didn’t know was there to give. Motherhood is helpless. My heart on wobbly legs navigating stairs. I get it. This is why we honor moms. They’ve earned it.

It’s also multiple daily dopamine hits. It’s wonder. It’s encountering the world all over again. It’s being the very first Most Important Person in someone’s life. It’s the quickening in an infant’s eyes at the sound of my voice and the dirt-stained tears on my chest from a preschooler’s cheek. Because that particular spot on my chest, the spot with the sun-damage mole that he loves, is his home. His safest place. It’s being trusted beyond what I’ve earned. It’s being loved simply and forgiven instantly (my kids aren’t teenagers yet). It is sheer privilege.

On Mother’s Day, I feel like we hear a great deal about the struggle and sacrifice of motherhood, and we even hear some about the privilege. But we hear almost nothing about the socially privileged position of motherhood. We live in a society where motherhood is the norm for women, and any woman of a certain age who isn’t a mother is reminded of her noncompliance with this norm in a thousand different ways. Some of them are subtle; some are astoundingly obtuse. Mother’s Day happens to be a day when her noncompliance with the norm is rubbed vigorously in her face. This is why, every year, I like to hold a little bit of space on this day for what motherhood isn’t.

Motherhood is not automatic. About sixty percent of us can schedule babies between vacations and waxing appointments, but one in eight of us will for some period of her life be suspended between a desire to become a mother and an excruciating uncertainty as to when or if that will happen. This can last for years or decades. It can last for a lifetime.

Motherhood is not always visible. About ten to twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. About one in one hundred pregnancies ends in a stillbirth. Some mothers lose their children when they are older. Still others have had to give their children up. I promise you that you know women who have carried children in their wombs but do not hold them in their arms. You don’t necessarily know who we are. We don’t slap a bumper sticker on our car for each loss, and we might not stand when they’re handing out flowers to the moms in church. But we are mothers. And we will always carry those children.

Motherhood is not biology. Shoutout to all the adoptive mothers who constantly field questions about their child’s “real” mom. (Let’s just stop it, shall we?) And to all the nurturing and fierce women (and men) out there who are guiding people through the world, regardless of who bore them. I have been mothered by many people, some of them infertile peers, some of them women with kids, one of them a quirky Argentine lady, and, yes, one who gave birth to me. I am thankful for all of them.

Motherhood is not a requirement. It’s hard enough to be a woman in the world without being constantly fed the bullshit that we have not completed our life cycle until we have spawned. While it really seems like at this point I shouldn’t have to say that a woman is a complete human of her own right, I’m going to say it, just in case: no woman owes the world children. Full stop.

Motherhood is not yo’ damn business. I’m just going to posit a mad theory here: let us suppose for a moment that a woman is capable of communicating her reproductive plans with all of the people in her life who need to know – say, her partner (if applicable), her doctor, her inner circle. Are you with me, here? Do we think women are capable of doing that? Great. It logically follows, then, that if a woman has not told you her reproductive plans, then you are not a person who needs to know. Crazy, huh? I encourage you to ask yourself, the next time you want to ask a woman if or when she is planning to have children, “Does this woman owe me this information?” (Hint: the answer is no.) If the answer is no, then go ahead and ask her something less loaded, like how much she weighs.

Motherhood is not womanhood. I was not a mother, and now I am. Guess what? I’m the same person. I have not unlocked secret levels of humanhood. I did not grow lady parts I didn’t have before. I did not suddenly access emotions of which I was heretofore incapable. Can we please stop belittling the life experience of women who do not have children? There are precisely as many ways of being a woman in the world as there are women in it. If we spent less time measuring each other and more time honoring each other, we’d all be stronger for it.

Today, by all means, let us celebrate mothers. But let us expand our idea of what motherhood is, and please, let us remember what it isn’t.

Viper

cracked earth

 

love is rebellion
when you begin to crack like scorched earth
and the sun’s traitorous kisses leave you like a sparrow’s egg
when what was demanded of you since the day you arrived
falls further into memory with each sunset

love is mutiny
when your shadow covers more sand than it should
when your body is soft
like your will
and keeps moving after you have stopped

love is brazen
when all you’ve made evaporates
like dew from a cactus’ spine
and the only thing you bring to each dusk is that
small drains on this plane’s resources
are still breathing

love is madness
when you’re the molted skin
of the creature you once were
and changing winds
leave you flailing
for how or where to spend yourself
and anyhow, you’re spent

you miss her
all nerve and knowing, instinct and ease
you regard her waffling, wilted remains
with contempt

then you survey the terrain that shaped these remains
brittle, broken, careless
beating down on every beating thing
and you realize your contempt is borrowed
from a place that only ever wanted to hollow you and move on

and the taste of venom rises to your mouth again
fuck everything you’re supposed to be
you whisper tenderly
with a flick of your forked tongue