The words are within me, just waiting for birth. Growing. Taking on visuals and spins. Gaining personality and momentum until the day when they fly out of my fingers and onto the keyboard. The afterbirth, a mess of teacups and biscotti wrappers. But then, there it is. My baby. Yet another fruit of my mental loins. Yet another legacy of my expressed, or occasionally unexpressed, genetics. They very rarely look like I expect. And I have stopped trying to name them before they are actually born. I must let them reveal themselves and see how and where they choose to land. Then I name them. I groom them with spellcheck. I perform APGAR for word choice and grammar. I swaddle them in the cradle of my blog. (When I was a new parent and young, in lieu of a cradle, I had a Moses basket of a composition book.) I sing to them and rock them by virtue of introduction on social media. And, eventually, they take on a life of their own.
I have created a rather large brood. And most of my offspring are happy-go-luckies with no aspirations further than a smile and a chuckle. But some are rather dark and broodish, as if I were part Sylvia Plath. Some are the quiet, philosophical types, playing Dungeons and Dragons in the attic. Some are angry, poster children for social disorders. Some are fragmented and broken, needing a therapist to sort them out. And some are mischievous, horny little goats. I love them all: The good, the bad, the temperamental, and the just-plain-mental. Some children are easier to deal with, but they are all rewarding and loveable in their own way.
I have spent whole years pregnant with essays and poems. And I have spent times barren and childless, fawning instead over others’ offspring. I have held gatherings with friends’ children. I have spent lifetimes alone with my own. I have celebrated their victories, cried over their defeats. And I have spent time defending them from bullies and people who cannot see the soul within. I am inordinately proud of them, as all parents are of their children.
It’s a real commitment, this choice to be surrogate for verse. And as I watch each child board the bus for school, where they will be subjected to the opinions, prejudices, and actions of others, I pray that they remain true to themselves. Standing tall amongst the other stories and poems. Even if they are never as recognized or celebrated as some of their peers, I know they are important. I know what they represent. I will read them and love them and cheer them on.
That’s what a mother is for.