Little One,

Some days, you reveal me to myself. Last night, you had trouble settling down after having guests for dinner. And when I took you in my lap and looked at you, I began to breathe. Deeply, slowly, loud enough for you to hear. I kept telling you, “Take a big breath. Just like Mama. Good! What a beautiful breath!” You would get distracted, of course, but I kept breathing those slow, deliberate inhales and rejoiced when you followed me again.

My mind is not much different. The meditation time that is supposed to be focused on that breath continues to be derailed by the world around me and the rambling of my anxious mind. I have the same amount of control as you do some days. Trying to coax a toddler into deep breathing is about the same as settling an adult mind into meditation. Every time we circle back to focus is a victory. I am just like you.

And in seeing this similarity, I thought back to a time where I heard the advice, “Treat yourself like a toddler.” I think I fully agree with that now. In the age where terms like “self care” have come to mean “self indulgence”, we forget the wisdom of toddlers. When a toddler is cranky, we as mothers go through the list of things that they might need: healthy food, sleep, water, exercise, human connection. But we seldom do this for ourselves. We have been told, “You deserve a break,” or “Treat yourself,” and we run to the vices that fill our voids. We have an extra drink, an extra doughnut, go to bed without a shower, stay in when you know it’s better to get a little sun on our weary bones. And when we feel guilty, we say mantras to ourselves that we hear other mothers say; “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” “Self care is not selfish,” “I love myself.”

But if you really loved yourself, loved yourself like you love your toddler, wouldn’t you want what’s best for you? When your toddler wants to stay up all night and watch Netflix, do you say, “I love you so much that I’ll let you do anything you like.”? No. You say, “I love you so much that I want you to be healthy. You won’t feel good tomorrow if you don’t sleep. So, even though you hate bedtime, it’s time to rest. Because I love you.” The same love and care should apply to me as it does to you, little one.

Thank you for letting me learn from watching you, sweet baby. I only hope I’m smart enough to learn enough to make us both better.

I love you,



You learned the word “home”
And I don’t know what you think it means
When I tell you “we’re home”
Or you are
Do you know what I mean?
This place we put down roots
And the walls smell like curry
Or that you are where my heart lives
Both are true, I suppose
When you wake up on my chest
And blink up at me, saying,
“Mama. Home?”
All the answers are yes.


Her days have nothing to begin for
The quiet of that too-roomy house
An unsuitable filler of the void
“Will you stay for dinner?
Will you stay?”
She asks ones who have outgrown her
Pity her
Leave her to her nonsense
Unable to prioritize
Swallowing anything in reach
But not standing up
To search for meaning
That atrophied spirit
Melting into the infirmary bed
She waits until we forget


Take my picture
When the light is low
My hair waves upon the pillow
Babe in my heavy arms

Watch the sway of my hips
In that oversized bathrobe
Sipping coffee
Chopping herbs
Listening to the vapor of your breath
Catch in your warm throat

Sit with me
While I read in a low voice
Messy hair and acoustic guitar adornment
Slow, sweet company

To the men who have loved me
Paint me in your tender hands
And think me soft enough
The way I am

Fresh Air

This morning was plenty more gilded after a day to breathe. You jumped on the bed while I cleaned the room and burned pink incense with smoke like water. You asked for candles and we lit them. You asked for music by first names, as if every artist in the last half a century were on the other end of that imaginary telephone you’re always talking on. We danced to Kendrick Lamar and Brandi Carlile alike, and you fed your stuffed tortoise half your tortilla chips. I can breathe here again, little love.

February evening

You climb up on to the couch next to me
Sweetly, gracelessly
Holding onto the same fistful of cookie
You’ve been holding for half an hour
In that comic book shirt and bare feet
You hand me a red book of poetry
And pick up the crumbs

The orchid I planted in the corner of the room
Is dying
Though “planted” is perhaps generous
“Adopted” more like
The leaves fall off
I don’t move them
Some vain hope that I overwatered
And neglect will be the cure

I take a swig of rum from the bottle
Just me in the glow of the fridge
Counting the calories
Weighing the enjoyment
Against the weight
In my warm thighs
The softness of my belly
The soreness of my feet


Little One,

The big thing you have taught me is that there are no contracts. I used to believe that the way I set up relationships in the beginning was the way they always had to be. That no one ever learns anything. That changing the rules would pull the rug out from under any bond. And then, I had you.

The foundational fact of parenthood (indeed, of life), is that you grow. Everything always changes. And as you do, our relationship changes. And as our relationship does, so do I. When you outgrow something, I’m obliged to figure out something new. There was a time I could leave you alone in a room for a minute so I could pee. But you couldn’t walk then, and now you can. There was a time when you had no real consequences for anything. But you were an infant then, and you’re a toddler now. When something isn’t working, it is my responsibility to change the script until we find the thing that does.

And that has shown me the error in my old thinking. For example, when I first met your father, he and I were in such odd places. And over the course of our relationship, I became convinced that I had to do all the cooking and cleaning to be equal in the relationship to his money-making power. And that if I asked for help, or expected a normal amount of effort on both our parts to keep our life together, that I would be admitting I wasn’t capable of being equal. This was an error. But, this idea that I was stuck with whatever I had set up kept things the same for a long time. I feared that if I changed my mind, changed my expectations, that your father would feel that this wasn’t what he signed up for. Or worse, he would leave. So, this life continued, with me convinced that I had made my bed, uncomfortable though it may be, and should just lie in it. And then, I had you.

Now, I’m aware that we all change, we all grow. And as long as we continue to talk to each other, we can change the rules when we need to. Even the relationship with ourselves needs space to change. We have no obligation to be the same forever for the sake of consistency. That’s the difference between relationship and contract (This is also part of why I no longer believe in marriage, but that is a story for another day.) I want a relationship with you. Thank you for reminding me to be water, not stone.