Attempted Meditation While Parenting Again
I really don't have time for reflection -
One has a poopy diaper,
the other has alphabet homework.
I 'm not sure where I expected
to be at this juncture of my life,
but raising kids again wasn't part
of the plan. Yet, I still seem to do okay
despite some stress, those moments
when patience is thin and time is thinner.
I know it's not twenty-four-seven,
this grand-parenting, but for me it's at least
eleven-four. Don't get me wrong -
I love them dearly, and as "Pop-pop"
I have license to spoil. But I still have
regrets for mistakes I made when I raised
my own, like the times I lost my temper.
Did they turn out fine because of me
or in spite of me? Maybe a little of both.
Yet somehow they trust me with theirs,
and for that I am grateful.
Besides, that's what family are supposed to do -
take care of each other.
My wife's parents helped watch over our boys,
and my sisters and I took shelter and guidance
with our grandparents too.
Another afternoon. I put them both in for a nap,
those two beautiful granddaughters,
ornery and loveable, smart and willful.
I am exhausted, but instead of taking a catnap
myself on the couch, I clean up toys, do the dishes,
put in some laundry, and write this poem.
Almost every year during Poetry Month I've written a poem for my birthday, on my birthday (the 27th) but this year I missed it, having caught myself up in writing two sonnets that day. So here is my belated birthday present to myself. I guess it's a meditation too, in its own way.
This is my fourth 17th birthday,
and each one has been radically different.
My first seventeen, I was a skinny dork,
pegged as a "smart kid", getting a driver's license,
trying to figure out girls,
and the Beatles sang "Hey Jude".
My second seventeen, I was a dad twice over,
with a third on the way,
and a civil service career in full swing,
Everybody and their brother
wanted to help Africa, so they sang
"We Are the World".
My third seventeen, I was starting to feel
the effects of job burnout, had a fourth
soon-to-be-son in our home, and had just
navigated some marital speed bumps.
9/11 was still fresh in my mind
when Springsteen sang "The Rising".
Now on my fourth seventeen, I'm hardly
winding down, retired but busier than ever,
with two grandchildren in my weekday charge,
four grown kids of my own, a wife
who's stuck with me for the duration,
and everyone still wails on American Idol.
If I get to my next seventeen,
it will be a doozy,
and so will the soundtrack.