10 March 2010

The Last of the Firsts

Jennifer Barko Serving The Queens"...and they lived happily ever after."

Tonight Little A and I are going to kindergarten round-up. I have no idea why it needs to be so soon; so early; why it's arrived so fast.

While filling out all of the required forms, I couldn't help but keep thinking of the day that she and I left the hospital together. The nurse rolled us out to the door and I stood up, her in my arms, terrified to leave the hospital, and yet, off we went, she and I, to the car together and out into the world.

She was so little for so long; always the tiniest one, the frailest one, the one that everyone coddled and hovered over; her little frame belied her strong spirit.

And now, oh now. She is the Queen of Everything and Everyone. She has a sense of humor that has people laughing constantly. She has a mind that forgets nothing. She has the ability to make sunshine out of rain.

I don't want this to end. I don't want her to go to school. I don't want to have her grow, and yet, of course, I do. I'm not ungrateful for this magic life, but if I had an opportunity to stop time, it would be now.

I don't want her to know of insecurity or think twice before she bursts out into song. I don't want her to feel like she has to dress a certain way or talk a certain way or stop the way that she uses "w" instead of "l" and "r".

I want her to always believe that she is magic, that she can turn the song on the radio by willing it so, that she can open doors by pointing her finger, for in many ways, I think when she realizes that isn't so, it will be the last of my magic as well.

Knowing my body will never bear another child, knowing that this is the last of the firsts, knowing that she is on the cusp of so many things, all of them pulling her further out into the world and from me; I can't describe this ache.

I believe that ee cummings said it best:
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

05 March 2010


Jennifer Barko Adriana Burkhart Serving The Queens
Dear Big A, 

I wish I had words to tell you what this day does to me, but I do not.

I wish I had something to give you, something beyond my love, that was certain, but I don't. I know all too well that even my love doesn't feel like love most days, Big A. Angst is not lost on this adoring mother, though I know you believe otherwise.

I struggle now, more than ever. I want to give you the world, but I want you to know what it means to seek out your own place.

I want to teach you the importance of loving yourself while making sure you learn how to put others before you and the value of that; of recognizing more than yourself.

I want to be your compass, and yet, more than ever, it is you and Little A that are mine. "What would I want them to do?" "What would I want them to know?" "What if that were my child; how would I want someone to fight for them?"

So how does this work, you ask?

And all I can tell you after these twelve years of being a mother is that possibly, today more than ever, I don't know. I say possibly because I'm not sure. It doesn't go away, but I wish it did.

I see your insecurities, and they gnaw at me.

I see your strengths and they inspire me.

I see your frustration and your anger and your desire for this part of you to end, already, eyes to the finish line when you've just yet started the race. You are my child, after all.

I know you cringe when I speak of the moment ago that I was cradling you to my chest, so I try not to speak of it. I don't tell you to embarrass you, I tell you so that you know; to try to teach you that it does pass, love, so fast, so quick, so certainly.

The etches in the doorway; the three inches that you've grown, the three shoe sizes that you've gained--in just a year? I cannot keep up with you and for that I am ever so grateful and eternally sad. And that makes not one bit of sense to me, either.

It is not just you, though I tell you it is; I do hold you a bit longer when I hug you at night now. "Will it be tonight?", I wonder, "Will it be tonight that she goes to bed a tad shorter and awakens taller than I? Will this be the last time I know of my child being just so below my eye level?" I'm the tallest in my family, you know, so I have no idea how to look up at you, and yet, it seems I've been doing so forever.

I know that you believe if you hear once more of the day I discovered the last of your baby fat was gone that you will die of boredom. I do know this. I do hear you. I do listen.

It's just the shock of that; the pain of that; the keen awareness and foreshadowing of what was yet to come--it hasn't left me yet, Big A. I don't believe it ever shall. And I believe that is how it should be.

There is no stopping this thing called time; perhaps these are the longest years. I cannot be your friend. I cannot grasp you to my chest. I cannot shelter you from this world. I cannot follow you to be certain that you've donned your hat and zipped your coat and protected your lips with the chapstick that I seem to buy you daily.

I will never rock you again in the old creaky chair; never fall asleep again with you on my chest; never make you believe that I am magic anymore.

Santa is gone, the Tooth Fairy is gone, the Easter Bunny is gone; on some days, I know, even God is gone. I can't make you believe. I can't explain well enough. And I must be alright with that. And I will tell you that even now, that is hard, despite knowing it is how it must be.

There is no love beyond this love.

There is no breath that I take without you on my mind.

There is no thought not marked by your presence.

There is no beauty that does not remind me of you.

Twelve years. It might have been twelve hours and I still would not know where the time has gone.

Happy Birthday, Big A.

01 March 2010

Milo Plots My Death

Clark and Lynn Most If you look closely you'll be able to see Milo the wonder-cat hidden within the confines behind my washer and dryer. Trust me, he's there, backed up against the wall as far as possible, plotting his escape. Seriously, he told me so:

ME: Milo, come out, Mr. Man. Kitty, kitty, kitty.

MILO: I am ignoring you. I've just survived a fire and the trauma of hiding in a small confined space there, and now, I'm here?

ME: Milo, it's me, Jenn, you remember me? All those nights you'd tap on my door with your come hither ways....all those nights we sat on the couch cuddling and typing resumes?

MILO: I remember you, Jenn. It's just that I'm a tad worried that you've gotten the wrong impressions from our time together.

ME: What?!

MILO: Look, I'm a free bird, I got lots-a girls. I thought we were cool until somehow I woke up here in your house. I don't know what you told my parents to convince them that I should stay with you, but just wait until I talk to them. And don't be goin' all Kathy Bates on me and trying to tie me to a bed and break my ankles with an axe.

ME: Milo, honey, it worked before, we can make this work again. Look, I made you your favorite dinner....albacore tuna fiesta. I even put it in this little dish for you.

MILO: Day-um, I am hungry. Saunters out, eats meal.

ME: Feel better now buddy?

MILO: Purring, well, I guess I could get in bed with you-but I gotta be clear--I'm a playa, this don't mean nothing to me besides having someone to get through the night with. You cool with that?

ME: Um, Milo, you're not allowed to leave the house, ever, so I'd think that would really impede upon your playa status.

MILO: That's only cause you don't know the skilz I have. Stray Cat Strut? They wrote it for me.

ME: I get it, Milo, I get it. You're the coolest cat ever.

MILO: Yeah, baby, you do got it. Now if you play your cards right, I'll let ya rub my back.

Serving The Queens Jennifer BarkoMILO: Don't be alarmed by the sinister swishing of my tail or the look in my eyes. Really. You're the favorite of my kitty calls honey. Just come over, pick me up and take me to the bedroom where we can snuggle like the old times. And when I'm gone in the morning baby, don't cry. Just smile when you think of me.

ME: Oh, Milo, anything for you.

(We've got tonight, who needs tomorrow, let's make it last, let's find a way.....)