Life + Culture

A Long Motherhood

A Long Motherhood

Forty-two years went by between the birth of our first child and when the last of all five turned 18. That’s a lot of parenting. I suppose, if we had planned that season more compactly, there would be fewer regrets and fewer happy memories. But we weren’t thinking that way. We were thinking about older kids helping younger ones, and how to spread college attendance (and expenses) over 27 years.

What we didn’t foresee — and it wouldn’t have changed anything if we did — is that parenting doesn’t end with the last departure. Or any departure. We are now pushing 70 and have just embarked on the completely new phase of parenting which you might call the AAKAA phase — “After All Kids Are Adults.”

Last year when that phase began, I wrote this poem for a very strong, faithful, long-suffering Mom, my wife. It was good to spend those 42 years doing this together. And it is good to begin our AAKAA phase as deeply committed as ever.


       A Long Motherhood
               For Noël

Your motherhood began
   when Karsten was conceived
      now forty years ago
                        plus two,
 
And then was sealed again
   when Benjamin was weaved:
      another son to grow
                        in you.
 
Then Abraham. And when
   your arms were strong, God heaved
      the little whale you know,
                        and who
 
But Barnabas? All men.
   And then a dream, believed,
       a seed we did not sow,
                       came true.
 
                  * * *

And Talitha, all girl,
   as real, as loved, withal,
       as all her brothers were,
                       arrived.

Now there were five, the pearl,
   and four rough diamonds all.
        You loved them well, loved her.
                       They thrived.

                  * * *

Naive we were, and thought 
   for years that motherhood 
       would end when they all said,
                           "Goodbye."

Now we have learned that naught
   in them or us, for good
      or ill, could this tough thread
                             untie.

What has been wrought is wrought.
   Yours they remain, though should
      they all the low way tread
                              or high.

And you, my love, have taught 
   them well, and said, "For good
       I'm yours till you are dead,
                               or I."

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