By the Time I Finished, I Came Out New

This morning, I read a post by Judy Douglass on going low. It’s about motherhood, but it’s also about choosing the “lowest place” in all things. Judy writes about what it means to “go low”: you go last; you give up your plans to defer to others; you sacrifice sleep; you forfeit your own time.

I need to read it. I need it like I need air. I wake up with the little ones bouncing around me wanting to bake cookies, play dolls, read, and swing on the swing with me. But I want to be alone. I want to sleep. I want to read poetry.

They need hair brushed, sunscreen applied, laundry folded, emotions soothed. All day long.

Once, before children, I slept until noon. I strolled downtown to a coffee shop and drank a leisurely cafe mocha while reading poetry books and composing thoughtful poems of my own.

The whole day belonged to me.

Then I became a mother, and I was depressed for years and years. I wrote this in the midst of one of the hardest days, and by the time I finished it, I came out new on the other side. 

Steadfast in Motherhood
Split-pea soup on the stove;
chicken pot-pie in the refrigerator;
ingredients for morning waffles made ahead;
laundry, folded; bed, made.
I’m here, God, with candles lit
in the middle of the day.
Just me, with a steadfast heart,
like some pebble thrown out across
a pond, settled in generations of silt. 
I still believe and wait for wonder to seize me
in the midst of flour, sugar, and peas.
This morning at 8:00 I drove
to get groceries. The check-out line
was long enough for me to read every headline,
study a hundred other women’s lives,
wrapped in silk and chocolates.
I kept thinking of my soft, warm bed
where once, I slept in
for hours, then sipped cocoa, reading poems
in the middle of the day. Maybe here and there
a light-hearted phone call.
Me, pampered, but with a lost heart
wanting freedom
with only myself to please.
God, you have saved me from myself.
You recreated me in a new recipe.
I’m the pebble that shines because of the
elements that cover and consume it.
You let others dine on me and be satisfied,
and I let myself wash away with the dishwater.
You have come, in the midst of myself,
and saved me.  

Have you learned to take the lowest place? Teach me!

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  1. my youngest was very colicky for 10 mons, at the 6 mon mark i was beside myself, and remember saying.. you better dig in for the long haul and find something inside to meet this, i did , we tease her about being a high maintenance baby and she responds with,… tru, and i am  a high maintenance adult, and that modeling has taught her to attend well to her maintenance now, and taught me that i am so much more than i think i might be in any given moment

  2. I love this post, and the poem…amazing, isn't it, how writing can so often be a life raft to take you to the other side?