Today is Mother’s Day in the UK. Perhaps you thought I’d capitalize on this opportunity and reverently bow to the woman who raised me. Mom, I love you immensely. You are a jewel but today is not your day.
I could praise the women – young and old, past and present – who have influenced me as a mother. I won’t.
I could applaud the weary and wonderful friends who lovingly stand next to me, day in and day out, diaper bag in one hand and coffee in the other. You girls prop me up when it’s tempting to collapse. I could write gooey love letters to each of you. Sorry. Not today.
I could thank my children, Isaac and Lucy, for being the source of great joy, helping me understand God’s love for humanity in a more rooted and profound way. I could grit my teeth and thank them for pushing me to my wits end in frustration and driving me to my knees in prayer because it has exposed all kinds of selfishness in me that needs addressing. Thankfully, God is always at work and His grace covers my mess. I could thank them for the cuddles and sloppy kisses that make it all worthwhile.
I could even thank my husband, the leading man in this romantic comedy called parenthood. I love you, Steve. You’re the object of much affection but you are not the man I am going to thank.
Today I am going to thank a man who I vaguely know and am not particularly close to but admire all the same.
You see, I’m about to change course and thank a handful of writers who have inspired and encouraged me over the years. I am learning how challenging it is to maneuver creative endeavours with a generous handful of other precious commitments. It’s not easy. It’s worth it—everything worth doing is challenging—but there are days when it is damn hard work.
The man I wish to thank knows this well because he finished his collection of poetry, At The Pool We’ve All Got Bodies, whilst juggling responsibilities as a husband, father, and a grad student. Surprise, Lance Odegard! Happy Mother’s Day to you.
We packed your poetry in our hospital bag to entertain us on the day I became a mother. Your words were the unseen guest in the hospital room where Isaac drew his first breaths. Because of my epilepsy, I happily enjoyed an epidural. It allowed me to rest and therefore avoid the risk of a seizure. It also numbed the ferocious labour pains and set me free to give your captivating poems my full attention. Your work charmed us to no end.
You possess a gift, Lance. Thank you for sharing it with us. The only thing better than combing through that sweet little paper-bound treasure is recalling how wonderful it was when Steve read it to me in the hospital, full of anticipation and nerves.
I hope you don’t mind if I share one of your poems on the internet. You let me share it once and I’m counting on your generosity again because it’s too late to confirm it with you. Now that Isaac is almost five and Lucy is barreling towards three, I understand this poem in a new way and it continues to make me smile each and every time I read it.
Friends, I leave you with Lance’s words. Goodnight! (PS. I love you, mom!)
PLANTING A GARDEN
Having kids was like having a garden,
After four good years together,
it was spring and the time seemed right for planting.
Sure it’d mean digging up the lawn
and losing a corner of the backyard,
and we wouldn’t be able to
go out on the weekends as much,
having to stay home and water.
But the image in our minds
of green life in tidy garden rows,
nourished by our care, was enough.
Maybe one day we’ll have apple trees,
Looking out the kitchen window
I see the blackberries,
a wild thatch tangled across the yard,
overtaking the sidewalk and steps,
the brambles now climbing the cupboards,
even brushing against my leg as I write.