October 4, 2023

On the Occassion of My Favorite Poet Coming to Town

(If that isn't a pretentious title for you, I don't know what is).

Compromise. Disappointment.  It's all in that package called "parenthood."

I was aware that when one decides to become a breeder (oh, that snarky pre-kids word I loved using to label parents), one accepts that one's body, one's life, one's sleep will be forever changed.

The constant interruption---

N'other Bite of Yogurt! More!!

---is hard to accept, but you get used to it, mostly.  Just like you get used to most things, or so you think.

Believe it or not, I had a life, a pretty nice one before starting a family.  There's no regrets there, but sometimes it feels good to reconnect with that former self.  Once in a while, I'd like a quiet dinner out with my husband, or to take a walk with him around town without having to travel a certain way to avoid too many unsloped curbs where strollers are not welcome, or even dabble in something creative.

In my undergrad days, I considered myself a writer.  Well, more of someone who loved the idea of being a writer.  I did write, sometimes, and I think I was pretty good at it.  The work ethic and motivation wasn't always there (I struggle a lot with that aspect of myself in all areas), but I knew a good poem when I saw one.  This was one of those poems, that still sticks with me.

The One Girl at the Boys Party by Sharon Olds, (1983)

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they'll plunge in the deep end, she'll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she'll be doing her
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body. 
Now I don't consider myself much of a poet or writer (this blog is really just dabbling, nothing writer-ly) but every now and then I get the urge to visit that old self, just for kicks.  I blame Chris this time, for having his own, self-discovered love of poetry, for bothering that writer-on-holiday who doesn't want to be bothered with kids (but would have no problem using them as poem fodder!).

Just this morning, before Chris left for work, we talked about engaging in a collaborative writing activity, maybe a conversational poem or something that would make our former selves feel less comatose.  Then, about a half an hour later, he texted me saying Sharon Olds, author of above poem, was coming to the university.  Squeee! I had waited my entire 20s to hear her read her work, and here she was, coming to my little hick town.

I frantically checked the calendar.  And my enthusiasm sank.

Ding, dong. Trick-or-Treat night.  Certainly this was a trick.  But as with most things now, it's a disappointing compromise between kid-world and my own desires.  And of course in the name of all that is good and right, the kids' needs (usually) come first.  To be fair though, I do love Halloween, and am looking forward to making up for last year's disaster, so this decision won't be made lightly.

The ability to be two places at once, or namely, two people at once, just can't be.  It's a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but as the years go on, it does get easier.  Please tell me it does.


  1. Find a way to go! Brandon and I have covered for each other on Trick or Treat night a time or two. I once missed because I wanted to go to DC to run a marathon. The kids haven't suffered as far as I can tell.

    You NEED to do this for yourself. Your kids don't benefit from a mom whose former self is comatose. You are more than their mom, you're the person you were before they were born, too.

  2. I know, I know. I really should. You're right. K-town has the merchant night the day before so maybe we'll just do that. I would kind of miss answering the door though. But I might be able to go to the reading at 6 and get home early enough to do trick or treat too.

    Thanks for your nudge of advice Hillary. I appreciate it!

  3. Maybe you could trick or treat early and still go to see her? Chuck Palahniuk is coming here on Monday, for an "adult slumber party" event. Should be amusing...

  4. You should go. I can come be surrogate mom if you want me to (and bring my kids along...).


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