When I sight you, pink and unblinking
Alert from the beginning
Heart beating away from my heart
Smeared with my blood
Learning to trust me
I’m wracked with guilt, tired and sick
Impossible to fathom as romance fades
Relief taunts me, I truly believe I may never figure it out
You suckle at my breast, impatient and fumbling
I’m eager to help you, afraid that I can’t
I believe I can nourish you, if nothing else
I believe I can learn, but how, God, how?
Why aren’t I feeling what they said I would feel?
I reach out to love you, scared, but I can’t be the child now
Sick inside with ‘What’s wrong with me?’
Doped up on tiredness, weak from the effort
It fills me with dread that I can’t comprehend,
I look at you, relying on me, not feeling that you are mine
If I was yours, would you not slip and slide?
If you were mine, would my eyes not be dry?
It’s a fear I hide and the jokes tumble down
It’s a panic that grips
Unfounded and cruel
But it creeps up on me, its beauty more pronounced,
As you sleep on the inner flesh of my arm in the night
When it’s just you and me, and your Daddy
The truth seeps in
That I am a vessel, the caretaker of a blessing
The perfectly formed cherub numbing my arm
I don’t just imagine your tiny fingers within mine
Finding solace against my heartbeat
Resting on my skin
Ignoring all of our plights
You were born to gain warmth from my touch
to learn the picture of your father’s smile
Numb arm, Knowing Heart
I love you, I love you, It crept in
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem