What do I Make?
a poem inspired by Taylor Mali's What Teachers Make
I helped make my children.
But I aside from that, I haven’t been able to make
them do or be anything since
--at least with any measure of success.
Have you ever tried making a four-year-old clean his room?
By the time I had raised all three of my children,
I had tried every “loving and il-logical” way imaginable:
and my all-time worst mothering method--i-Robot,
in which I stood behind my second son,
his wrists in my hands,
and forcefully bent him over,
refusing to let him up
until he had a toy in his grasp,
so we could walk it to the closet
and put it away in its "proper" place.
We both cried that day.
And I remember realizing
(much sooner than most parents, I believe)
that I cannot make my children do or be anything.
I can teach.
I can expect,
I can lead,
I can hope,
I can allow,
I can encourage,
I can champion,
I can ignore,
I can praise,
I can love.
So I did.
Then, I sat back and watched as they became
a loving sibling,
a funny girl,
and perhaps most importantly,
my children became exactly who they were meant to be
--not out of force or manipulation or because
“You’ll be a nerd if you don’t make the basketball team like Mom did.”
And, because I was a coach more so than a creator,
I do not mistakenly take the credit for who my children have become.
I now sit in a seat of satisfaction
and honor the beautiful, imperfect human beings they are
--people who any other beautiful, imperfect human beingwill benefit from knowing and loving.