Nursery Rhymes for Mothers & Sons

Before the chaos of those last 15-20 minutes before dinner, he’s wearing a doctor hat and checking my temperature or heartbeat. It’s pretty interchangeable at this point in his medical career. He makes the heartbeat sound by clucking and asks if I’m okay. Mothers know we probably aren’t okay. Not with our whole hearts walking outside our bodies like this. Just growing faster than the speed of light. And us learning how to live with something like the stars.

Stars and light aside, dinner has to be finished and there will be tears and meltdowns, diaper changes, dirty kitchen floors, and high chairs that need cleaned again. There will reminders to breathe, another day’s end that hasn’t come with ease.

But I’ll tell you—

We aren’t asking it to be different. We know that hard isn’t bad. That your walking heart can check your heartbeat. That apple slices can be the moon. That tears are interludes for joy. That these dinners are the good ole days. And we aren’t missing a thing.

So here’s the poem inspired by my boy which I wrote on one of the many nights motherhood was more strain than music. But the apple slice was still the moon, and I learned something about nursery rhymes as lived by mothers and sons.

Forget about lassoeing the moon for you, because you turned a boring apple into the moon itself, then ate it up like it was nothing!

We will probably laugh after dinnertime, full on the sky we stole, us bigger than the whole wide world.

Maybe we will scoop up the stars tomorrow downing brown sugared oatmeal for breakfast. Twinkle, twinkle who again?

Maybe nursery rhymes are epics in disguise—valiant effort to be sure but always unable to outwit sons and their mothers, oh, didn’t you know? Cow can’t jump over the moon anymore.

Maybe motherhood turns to gold right at my fingertips. Hands deep in the kitchen sink, holding the broom to sweep, spinning epics at dining tables, folding the days old laundry—

all this to the sound of them.

S.V.F. (Sky We Stole and So On)

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