The following poem embodies me completely – in one role in my life: that of mother. I’ve memorized it, one of few poems I know by heart. It succinctly captures my commitment to my three children, my absolute love for them, my chilling fears for them. The speaker somehow comes across as irreverent and fun (at some point past at least,) also realistic, maybe a little pessimistic, sometimes — and then tentatively hopeful; all thrown in together in seventeen short lines. Like I said: me. 

By the time my kids came downstairs this morning I was, frankly, hoping no one would mention the school shooting in Parkland, Florida because I’m needing-a-vacation tired, and I’ll tell you what: my heart is beating on the outside of my body today, raw and bleeding, and barely hanging on.

I’ve been selling the world to my children for 18 years, with the best marketing I can muster. If you asked them, they would probably tell you they think there’s nothing they can’t do, nowhere they can’t go, nothing they can’t experience. I wonder: in so doing, have I sold them an absolute shit hole and called it “great potential” the way a real estate agent might?

I feel like I’m focused on the mold around the edge of the tub, the peeling paint on the trim, the loose floorboards in the house that is our world. And not in an enamoring, fixer upper, way. The house is made, quite possibly, entirely of cards. Can they make this place beautiful? Can we?