On the Eve of My 41st Birthday

This will be my first birthday without my mom.
Mom and me :)

41 years ago she cleaned the house. I imagine her folding the laundry, picking up after her three and five-year-old, putting away dishes. She thinks maybe all that activity helped things along, made her water break.

A neighbor came over to watch my siblings while Dad drove Mom to the hospital. April is still cold in Bend and that's what Mom remembers about the drive: that her feet were cold and Dad refused to run a red light.

It wasn't the easy birth the third baby is supposed to be. There was back labor and my shoulders were too wide for the birth canal. But I arrived all the same, on a cold April morning.

Mom was with me for forty birthdays after that. I remember my little kid birthday parties: at the pool or a parade around the yard. And Mom always baked a homemade cake. I used to be embarrassed by these cakes. I thought she was being cheap and often wished for a store-bought cake with thick, white frosting. But now I wish for one of those cakes, or for the cherry crunch my sister and I often requested.

As an adult, on my birthday, Mom always called. She always sent a card in the mail, and sometimes a little gift, something she saw that made her think of me. But this year, and I'm sure for every birthday to come, I will remember Mom. I will remember all of the wonderful ways she taught me to celebrate. I will remember all of the ways she made me feel special. And that will forever be my gift from her.


Back to the Grind

On my way back to the grind...
I’m sure there are things that would have made my return to work easier.

If baby Gabe wasn’t so perfect, his lashes, his coos, his snuggles beneath my chin. That would have made it easier.

If my school wasn’t quite so awful, was cleaner. If my classroom hadn’t been thrashed by the traffic of the one hundred fifty-odd students who traipse in and out everyday. That would have made it easier.

If I had an easy, clean, private space to pump and rinse the bottles and cones with water that wasn’t labeled undrinkable and a refrigerator to store expressed milk until the end of the day. That would have made it easier.

If my schedule wasn’t dictated by the ring of a bell. If I could pump and pee when I needed to instead of depending on the bell schedule or the field trip or the testing schedule on any particular day. That would have made it easier.

If it wasn’t that time of year. Instead of teaching, I am a test proctor, a computer re-starter, a warning bell that your time is almost up. If I was teaching sonnets and slant rhymes, black out poetry and onomatopoeia, instead of watching students tip tap click clack on keyboards and staring at screens. That would have made it easier.

But Gabe is lovely, and so is Kiara. I have amazing help from David. My students are brilliant poets and many of my colleagues are supportive. That makes it just a little bit easier.

So even though it’s hard, even though it’s not easy, I know it could be so much harder. Women are doing everything, everywhere, everyday. Or maybe are staying home facing all of those unique challenges. All I know is that motherhood has taught me what so many have known: this is the hard work of life. 


National Poetry Month: April Challenge of a Poem a Day

Our little April Fool... 
For the past couple of years I've worked with my students to compose 30 poems and put together collections during April for National Poetry Writing Month. This year April begins as I'm still on maternity leave and my students are on spring break, but I wanted to get started so I sought out some resources to help me along. If you want to read or write with me, here are links to sites I'm using to help me write a poem a day this April. 

This first one by Writer's Digest and offers prompts each day (and contests if you're interested).

This one other a poem each day that can provide inspiration (as well as poems from previous years). 

Here is my first poem inspired by Kiara's birthday this past week. 

April Fools

Today passed like any other twenty-four hour day
the dawn light seeping into the sky
and through our windows
and then seeping out the door that night

but today I was able
on several occasions
to imagine myself in a few years
looking back on this day

when she turned three
just two months after he was born
when we were on spring break
groping blindly through the early days of parenting two

and while our children slid around us
with their perfect lips and eyes
with their ten fingers and toes
so sweet and vulnerable

we played fools
the two of us together
hoping no one would notice
our desperate attempts at creating


2015 Progress: Writing, Reading, Submitting, Blogging, and Exercising Update

And just like that, 2015, which seemed to just begin, is already one fourth over. It's been a big first quarter for me with Gabe Ichiro entering the world, so I'm already playing catch-up on my goals for the year. Who would have thought that having another kid would cut into my schedule? Well, anyone who has two kids could have told me that and I'm sure they did, but I wasn't listening. Nonetheless, here is where I stand as of the end of March for 2015.

Writing: I want to try to put in 5 hours at the page per week (20 per month). Come on. This seems completely reasonable, but somehow I'm already behind. I did great in January, but once the sleep deprivation of newborn life set in, my productivity plummeted, so I'm at 40 hours for the year, about 20 hours behind. I need to up my average for the rest of the year in order to catch up.

Reading: I finished only 3 books: Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. I'm 9 back...

Submitting: My goal for this year is to submit work for publication once a week (4 per month). This is way beyond the amount of submitting I've ever done in the past. I've submitted 4 pieces and the rejections are already coming in! Still, I'm behind and need to double up for a few weeks in order to catch up. 

Blogging: I'm back to publishing on the blog once a week (4 per month) and with 8 posts so far, I'm only 4 behind. And for the month of March, I logged the highest readership on the blog in history. Yay, milestone!

Exercising: I want to cover 10 miles per week (40 per month) and while I was very pregnant and recovering from the c-section I took several weeks off. That has me at 54 miles  for the year so part of getting back in shape will be upping my mileage. 

"His Lashes" a visual poem.
So, that's it. I'm not too worried about being behind because I have this little guy distracting me...

This morning David reminded me of a Herm Edwards quote: "A goal without a plan is just a wish." Even though I'm behind on my goals, at least I have a clear plan to get me there.