Friday, September 12, 2014

Working Moms

My friend and coworker Caroline's challenge to me was to write about working moms.  She has three young kids (all girls, and including a pair of twins) and she's a great mom who still works like crazy.  She says that people see her kids and ask how she could still work, and she replies, "How could I not work?"  So in this poem, I'm thinking about how working to take care of your kids and working to take care of the world often go they dovetail and support each other.

Unfortunately, the challenge was extra challenging, because the subject of working women/working moms always makes me think of this song from my youth:

It's not very conducive to poem-writing.

This is another poem where I go really macro, talk about "the world."  I think that along with the next challenge I receive for this blog, I'll issue my own challenge to myself...go micro.  Write about the trees and don't mention the forest. 
At any rate, here's my poem:

Working Mother

A girl and her long hair are grass--
need care, but grow regardless
of your tugging.

Art is swirling her hair into a bun,
and work is entering the wilderness,
the world of ungroomed beauty.

A girl is part of the world,
though sometimes driven underground
to muffle the sound of her tears.

A girl's work is to stop hiding.

A mother's work is to unearth her,
show her that the world
is strong and wild enough to hold her,
and make this true by being strong
and wild enough to hold the world.

God is pleased with the man who cleans the floor
when the floor is caressed into a diamond.
God sees our work and sees our work to love,
make things glisten
for children, and for everyone.

Caroline's review:

I sometimes wonder if all of the tasks and reminders I expect of myself each day really affect my life and my daughters' lives in a positive way - or really in any sort of way. I don't believe any woman sets out to achieve a title of "superwoman". I believe women have an inherent nature to multitask, and occasionally that quality/flaw will tip the scale and seems a bit overboard. I have a constant internal struggle over whether or not I am making the right moves as a woman and a mother. I want my children to see my choices as strong ones and persevering ones, but I don't want these choices to be at the sacrifice of my responsibility of being a mother. So, the question is... Are the late nights and laptop-weekends teaching my young and impressionable tots something positive? Or am I doing them a disservice by confusing them on where my priorities stand?

So my answer to the dreaded question I get day in and day out - I do what I do because it is my human nature kicking into survival mode. I don't stop to think about how I haven't showered that day or how I thought I've had my much-needed third dose of caffeine, when really I look down to stare at my full and cold cup of coffee from 5:15 that morning. I do, however, remember seeing the three sets of big-beautiful-sleepy-brown eyes that brightened as they met mine that morning when I dragged them out of bed way too early to go to daycare so Mom and Dad could go to work to help provide for our family of five. 

I think the man who I shared the elevator with this morning before work summed up my response to this:  "I don't know how you do it?!" As I am clearly breaking a sweat at 7:30am with my middle child strapped to me in an ergo carrier and her four-day-fever penetrating my skin, he says, "a mother does what a mother has to do." Very true old man - thank you for those wise words of clarity.

And Ivy... the Sammy Kershaw song... really? Haha... But, no, seriously - I agree 100% that mothering can very much be broadened into the larger concept of caring for the world. We all do what we feel we are called to do. It is not something we have any control over - it is just there as part of our makeup.