I’ve been sifting through digital sheaves of poetry for the past week… trying find poetry about parenting to share with you.
The truth is – much of parenting poetry is very very sad. Or negative. And much of that is modern verse. Which… I suppose speaks to the current feelings most people have on the topic of parenting. That it’s a drudgery. A chore. Something to be gotten through in the next eighteen year and then thank goodness they’ll be out of our hair.
So… I’d hoped to have something more inspiring to share with you but I haven’t found anything great yet, except the idea that perhaps the poetic among us need to write more poetry about parenting?
Yes, parenting is hard. Heart-breaking. Relentless. And cruel in that our children eventually grow up.
But parenting is also sacred. Softening. Forever. And kind in that we have the chance to one day be our child’s friend when they are grown. What a blessing that will be, right?
So… for now, all I could find that wasn’t depressing was this line from Walt Whitman’s poem “There was a Child went Forth” (also, if I share a poem, or line of poetry here, please don’t think that means I fully embrace every piece of work or statement the author has made. I’m sharing what fits the theme here, or gives something to think on, nothing more).
I like this poem because it talks about a child going forth into the world, and whatever he sees, he becomes. It speaks to the impressionable nature of children, and also their inquisitive spirit. There’s a larger portion about the mother and father and what they give the child, but these lines struck me the most:
His own parents
He that had father’d him, and she that had conceive’d him in her womb, and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day – they became part of him.
I think these lines are beautiful in how they speak to the constant sacrifice and influence of parents. We give to our children – not just a birth and life – but we give them ourselves every day until we, the parents, inevitably become a part of our children.
The poet goes on to talk about how the home influences the child’s growth:
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture – the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d – the sense of what is real…
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
It’s actually a rather sobering thought that should make us each reflect on how we parent day-by-day, and be more intentional… and I’m not trying to be preachy, just thinking aloud here. Every daily event forms our children’s future. Even the company we invite over, the choices we make with how we arrange our home decor, how we show affection. It’s all an influence on our children.
Let’s sit with that for a moment each morning before we start our day with our children…
I love when a poet makes me stop and think for a long moment like this. Don’t you?