Stargazing – A Double Nonet

Mama, is there time to watch the stars?

The sleeping bag is by the door

 We can snuggle to stay warm

And count the stars all night

We can tell stories

And share secrets

Me and you

Under

Stars

.

Yes

My child

Let’s count stars

On this clear night

We have all the time

Let’s snuggle close, you’re safe

I’ll always have time for you

I’ll share my favorite story

Of the star who fell into my heart

Image credit: Adrien King @ Unsplash 
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows an hour glass sitting on a small table. The sand has run through the glass. Two hand are reaching for it from opposite ends )

Here is my second response to Sadje’s What Do You See #51 photo prompt. This double nonet focused on the stars in the background and depicts another aspect of parenting during a pandemic. This one is has a “happier” tone. (Yes, I am making an effort to not be so doom and gloom on my blog. Cue rainbow farting unicorns…or not…)

I’ve been trying to make sure that each of my kids are getting some one-on-one time and that we are doing some special things to break up the monotony. I think everyone can agree that the feelings of anxiety, helplessness and isolation have increased during the past six months since pandemic safety measures have been in place here in the USA. And it doesn’t look like these precautions are going away any time soon – numbers of coronavirus cases are again increasing all over the country.

This pandemic – this entire year of 2020 – has been anything but normal. But, I have this crazy idea that, for my family, I want it to be special for positive reasons as well as negative. I want my kids to look back on this year and say, “Yes, we missed a whole year of ‘real’ school, we missed being with friends and family, we missed out on family trips and extracurricular activities, but….we got to stay up late and watch movies, we made some really yummy meals together, I learned a new skill, I started a new hobby, my siblings and I made up cool games, I realized I loved doing laundry…” OK – maybe not that last one, but I can hope…

And that’s the other thing I want my kids to remember from the year 2020 – that there is always hope, that they are resilient, and that together, we can still make the world a better place.

©️ 2020 iido

The Gift of Time – A Poem

The screen lights my face

Reflecting the curated world

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling

.

Your hand on my sleeve, then on my face 

Your voice reflecting a child’s request

Tugging, tugging, tugging

.

I turn away, pulling the screen to my chest

My peace broken, I add to the disturbance 

Yelling, yelling, yelling

.

You turn away and drop your creation

Broken bits of pride scattering on the floor

Falling, falling, falling

.

The sound of escape pings

The sound of reality heavily sighs with slumped shoulders and sits in front of the TV, turning on a show it’s seen before

The feel of escape vibrates

The feel of reality punches the gut with the realization that time should be given to a small hand and not a small hand held device

.

I am all thumbs, fumbling, 

dropping the screen

dropping down next to you

Putting my face in front of your face

Seeing, listening, loving

.

Living

Image credit: Adrien King @ Unsplash 
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows an hour glass sitting on a small table. The sand has run through the glass. Two hand are reaching for it from opposite ends )

An “early” post (at least for me!) for Sadje’s What Do You See #51 picture prompt. The picture above sent my mind in two directions. This is probably the first time I worked on two poems at the same time! I’ll post my second poem after this one.

This picture intrigued me because of the hands. The one on the table seemed desperate, as if reaching the hour glass was a final act. As someone who is chronically late, I can say that time and I are not friends. I thought that being at home and not having outside obligations due to the pandemic would gift me a lot of time to write and run and do all the other things that I told myself I would do if “I had more time.”

That hasn’t been the case.

Time seems to be going faster despite the fact that all the days are blending together. From the time I wake up to when I go to bed (which is pretty late), I’m on the “go” while staying at home. And since all the kids are at home with me, I am acutely aware of how much time I am spending on activities that I would have usually gotten done while they are in school, versus the time and attention I am giving to them during the day. Some times it’s more or less even, some days it’s weighted to one side.

I am that hand on the table, grasping for more time yet knowing it will be taken away from me and never returned.

©️ 2020 iido

Mama Bear’s Center – A Double Nonet

Your mouth downturned, sadly hiccuping,

Then wailing, your big tears trailing

Down your cheeks, onto your lips

Your body caves inward

Shoulders tight, arms limp

Knees bent and tucked

Rejection

Centered

Hurt

My

Center

Bellows, stomps

Expands to crush

Those who dare to hurt

My Baby Girl weeping

I gather you up and tuck

You under my chin and hold tight

Willing your pain to become my own

My Baby Girl with her Baby Dolls. Picture above ©️ 2020 iido

This double nonet was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #247 – Center or in Canadian, “Centre”. 😁 I am all caught up with Patrick’s challenge – YAY!

But not-Yay for the “inspiration” for this poem. It’s been a very hard week for “virtual learning” aka “learning from home,” especially for my younger daughter. She misses her friends and dislikes feeling that she is missing out on all the fun stuff of school. Yes, tweens can experience serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Our Montessori school has been playing “catch up” with technology since they were not a high tech school to begin with. Coupled with some internal dysfunction that often arises during times of crisis, her school wasn’t meeting her needs academically or otherwise.

This made my sensitive girl very upset – she excels in school and the feeling of disconnect was very destabilizing for her. Despite her attempts at communicating with the teachers, nothing was done to address these problems. While I certainly sympathize with the stress and pressure that teachers are currently under, no one – NO ONE – has the right to disregard and disrespect my child.

Mama Bear drank some coffee and readied for battle.

If you are a parent, you know the pain of witnessing your child be in pain, whether physical, emotional or mental. Sometimes they have to endure it – sometimes they should endure it (especially if it is an outcome of a bad decision on their part). But as a parent, if I can protect my child from pain or take it away from them, I do – I have – and I always will.

Maybe this makes me one of those entitled parents. I feel that parents of color (as well as parents of kids with different abilities), when we are advocating for our kids, we are often seen as entitled, demanding, troublemakers. Unsurprisingly, another child (white, female) who was experiencing the same issue as my daughter, had her concerns addressed compassionately and immediately. You don’t want to think about what other factors might come into play, but that is always in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure my girl knew that even if racism was in play, that she shouldn’t settle for something less than what she deserved.

In the end, we did reach a resolution and hopefully these improvements will be implemented next week.

Mama Bear will be watching…..

****

I could not post this on September 11, 2020 and not pay tribute to the lives lost on this date, 19 years ago. Like most people, I can remember where I was when I heard the news about the first plan crashing into the Twin Towers. I remember everything about that day.

Growing up in New York, I have very fond memories of the Twin Towers. I’ve lain down on the pavement between the towers and watched the sky turn behind the towers, making for a dizzying and awe-inspiring experience (this is what nerdy high schoolers did back in the day). I’ve been to the top and marveled at the busy beauty that is New York City. The news reports, the pictures of the horrors of that day are now also etched in my mind.

9-11-01 Never Forget….

©️ 2020 iido

Radiance Reviewed – A Poem

My radiance suffers

when I don’t sleep

and the bags under my eyes

carry tears and worries.

.

My radiance suffers

when I eat sour cream pringles

and bagels with cream cheese

then bemoan the cheese on my thighs.

.

My radiance suffers

when I have three kids on my one lap

and I don’t have enough

eyes and ears to share.

.

My radiance suffers

when I am googling and scrolling

and shoveling crap into my brain and soul

thinking it’s fertilizer instead of just shit.

.

My radiance suffers

when I don’t talk to an adult

besides with my thumbs

that can’t differentiate between sarcasm and snark.

.

My radiance suffers

My light gets dimmer

My flame flickers

But maybe

It is not my time to shine….

Playing catch up as the school year starts! There won’t be any “alone time” this year since my kids will all be learning from home so I’m trying to “find time” when I can. Right now, time is waiting in line for take out.

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and A Word Challenge #244 – Radiance. I’m a week or two behind but I’m committed to this streak!

Life is anything but radiant right now, so like reading and writing and running, I’m trying to find the glimmers when I can. My friend calls this “find grace” – for myself and others – during this time. It really does help find the “shine” in the heavy dullness of living during a pandemic. It’s the hope that I’m clinging to. It’s the priorities that I am mindfully choosing. It’s the gratitude for blessings that I am counting.

So while I may not yet be back to regular posts…I’m still here… and I appreciate your time in reading this….

©️ 2020 iido

To Mothers Making Tough Decisions – A Cinquain

Mother

With broken heart

Your knowing eyes loving

Despite fearing unknown chaos

Hero

Image credit; Lucas Pezeta at Pexels
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows face of a woman. It is painted with luminous glitter paint and the features are highlighted with bright yellow lines, ending in a question mark on the forehead)

Joining Sadje’s “What do you see?” picture prompt #42 this week with the beautiful picture above. I would have loved to know where this picture was taken, if it was for a special ceremony or celebration. The colors are so vibrant against the black background – they seem illuminated even on my computer screen. And the design – does it allude to the “third eye” or does it have some other symbolic meaning?

It’s the person’s gaze in the picture that drew me in. I made the assumption that it was a feminine face, but I could be totally wrong since there are no other indicators of gender. As with any picture, our interpretation really reflects more of who we are and our point of views/filters/biases than on what the artist’s intent is.

The gaze in this picture speaks to resignation – knowing something and accepting it. I am hoping it is a compassionate resignation – knowing the decision made is done with the best intentions and understanding of the current data.

I would like to imagine that this is the look that I have right now. I would like to imagine that it’s the same look mothers/caregivers all over the United States have, after making the difficult decision of whether to send their kids to in-person school or attempt learning from home. I would like to imagine that we are looking at each other with this compassionate resignation and also with the unspoken promise of support no matter the outcome.

The first word of this poem could also be replaced with “Teachers” and the last word would remain the same, “Heroes”. I know our teachers are also struggling with the difficult decision of return to school – for themselves and their children. Again – I bestow the look of compassionate resignation and the promise of support for the following school year.

As this pandemic continues and many of us are feeling the fatigue of continuing with safety measures, let’s practice this compassionate look above our masks. Our eyes can convey hope as easily as contempt.

©️ 2020 iido

Winging It – A Cinquain

Winding

Down – time for sleep

Whining soothed – breathing deep

Tomorrow – promises to keep

Winning

A beautiful sunset –
The reward for surviving the day

It is 1 AM where I am and I’ve been thinking all week about Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #239 – Winding. I was just about to give up when this little cinquain popped into my head. I love playing with words and sounds and the “W” sound in winding, whining, winning and winging, made me happy. Also – all those W words have all the same letters except for one! I’m sure there’s a lesson somewhere in there about perspective and mindset (how changing one thing can change the whole meaning, etc.) but we won’t get into that today.

If you haven’t noticed from my previous posts, being a parent in the middle of a pandemic is HARD! However, there are days that feel less hard and there are also days that feel incredible.

Today was a less hard day.

As I look at my “To Do” list for this coming week (reading blog posts and responding to comments are on there!), I was reminded by my Papa, that I’m doing the best I can. My kids are doing the best they can. We all are doing the best we can with the resources and information that we have.

I am adding being kind to myself and my family on to my “To Do” list for this week. You should too! If you need another reason why, check out Kate’s thoroughly convincing open letter post!

Sometimes you have to start with small goals…

©️ 2020 iido

A Shining Moment – A Haibun

I am drinking hot coffee despite the 90 degree weather, the sweet creamy liquid warming my nostrils before I take a sip. I hold it for a moment, savoring it’s decadence before swallowing, while watching my children run through the sprinkler. The sunlight glistens off the water droplets hanging onto their dark hair and tan skin. These diamonds sparkle and glisten before being flung into the air echoing the sound of their laughter. I drink my coffee and commit this happy, shining moment to memory.

Growing up, my sprinkler was the fire hydrant in front of my neighbor’s house. Instead of soft, squishy grass underfoot, we had pavement that left our feet raw from scrapes on the unyielding surface. Our laughter gurgled like the fire hydrant while our screams matched the siren wail of the police – a warning that our water play time would soon come to an end. My mother would drink black coffee and watch us from the stoop, her worries emanating from the lines between her eyes, like the sun’s rays burning our already darkened skin.  

On this summer day, I drink my coffee, leaning against my marble countertop while looking at my children through the panoramic kitchen window and toast myself for not having wrinkles between my eyes.

Sunshine rewarding
Generations of hard work -
Suburban sprinkler
I bought this water toy for my kids to play with since we don’t have a pool. I thought it was cute when I bought it – maybe because, subconsciously, it reminded me of my childhood summers in Brooklyn.

This haibun was written for Lillian’s request on dVerse’s Haibun Monday to write a traditional haibun about One Shining Moment in our lives. Lillian has an excellent description of what entails a “traditional haibun” including resources for the KIGO (a word/phrase that alludes to a season – in mine, sunshine alludes to summer) and examples of KIREJI (a shift that adds insight). I hope that my haibun is meets the bar!

Serendipitously, this haibun also works for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to juxtapose our life as an adult against our life as a child. I do marvel at the difference between my childhood as an immigrant to this country versus that of my children. My parents both worked, my mom during the day and dad at night. We lived in a diverse neighborhood in the city where my brothers and I would walk to school around the corner. We took public transportation and made frequent trips into “The City”. I did my share of “babysitting” my brothers and could be classified as a “latch-key kid” growing up.

Eventually, we were able to move out of Brooklyn and out to Long Island where my younger brothers were able to live the “suburban life” – taking a school bus, playing football on Friday nights, getting their driver’s license at 16. By that time, I was already in college so my experience with “suburban life” only came when I was married and about to have kids.

My kids have never had to take public transportation as their sole means of getting around. They marvel at sidewalks and when we do go on the train or bus in the “big city”, it’s a grand adventure! They have always had a back yard and have no clue what a “stoop” is. My husband (who is also an immigrant) and I have taken them back to the places where we grew up and they marvel at the “tiny houses” and wonder how we lived with only one bathroom, without a yard, and having to share bedrooms.

Race/ethnicity, social class, education, profession – these are all inter-related. My “shining moment” would not have come to fruition without the hard work and sacrifice of my parents, without the guidance of teachers, without the encouragement of friends. Yet for some, even with these current supports, the institutionalized discrimination/racism inherent in our systems in the USA keep them from reaching their shining moment, from getting their just reward for their hard work and sacrifice, and that of their ancestors.

We all deserve a shining moment in our lives. I would even venture to say, we deserve more than one. I would even be bold enough to say, that we deserve to shine as bright as we would want in every moment in our lives. Shine on, friends, shine on!

©️ 2020 iido

Transition – A Poem

My daughter is growing hair

You know, “down there”

So we sat and talked about

Transitions

We talked about breasts and deodorant

About mood swings and not smelling rank

We even read a book about

Transitions

My bittersweet thoughts of my girl growing up

Interrupted by her saying that it needs to stop

Because she’s really a boy in

Transition

The feelings she had, now identified

A revelation that she could no longer hide

And so she wanted to

Transition

My bittersweet thoughts turned to fear

This went against beliefs I hold dear

What did I do wrong to warrant

Transition

But this wasn’t about me and my happiness

It was about my sweet child and their completeness

So I took a deep breath and researched

Transition

We went to the doctor and talked to the priest

We went to the mall, to try on clothes, at least

My love for my child would get us though

Transition

Acceptance is hard, some days I’m not there

Bittersweet thoughts in my head still flare

But my child’s on a journey, how can I not care

We can adjust to change, no need to despair

So proud of my child as we begin to prepare for

Transition

Image obtained from WordPress Free Photo Library (first time I’ve used an image from there – there wasn’t any attribution info so I hope this reference is ok).

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #237 – Transition. It is a work of fiction – my children haven’t expressed any gender or sexual preferences so far. I hope that if they do, I would be able to live up to the open acceptance I have characterized in this poem.

I want to believe that human love is unconditional, but I know that isn’t true. Even our love for our children isn’t unconditional – we expect something back, whether it’s obedience or taking care of us in our old age. Still, I hope to show my children that love can transcend and transform any difficult situation.

With the pandemic and calls for racial justice continuing, let’s not forget that this is also Pride Month. Love is love! Intersectionality should be a part of any process seeking true justice and equity.

EDITED 6/22/20 4 PM – I forgot to link this post to Kate’s Friday Fun request for our favorite sayings (this is what happens when inspiration wakes you up at 3 AM!). I don’t actually have a favorite saying, but I do collect sayings that I resonate with me. This saying, I think, was an unconscious inspiration for the poem above:

“Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

This saying has also made a home in my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s leasing the space or if it’s there to stay…

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back....” 
― Erica Jong

I hope it’s here to stay….

©️ 2020 iido

Nomad No More – A Chaucerian Stanza +1

Between 9 and 3, I used to wander

Down lonely paths and quiet streets in town

This nomad time allowed me to ponder

All my life’s ins and outs and ups and downs

But now I’m kept hostage by this virus crown

Physically restricted, no place to be alone

My nomad gifts this suffering, for sins I must atone

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

wk-152-nomad

This is my first time writing for Sammi Scribbles’ Weekend Writing Prompt – this weekend is #152 – Nomad, 68 words. I found her site courtesy of Sadje’s site. I love how inspiration and connection is a hallmark of the WordPress blogosphere!

I also tried to connect it to Frank’s dVerse Meeting the Bar request to write a Chaucerian Stanza of 7 iambic pentameter lines with the rhyme scheme of ABABBCC. I missed the Mr. Linky deadline for that prompt, but it’s probably for the best since I went over the 7 line maximum by 1 line so I could fulfill Sammi’s 68 word request. I will attempt Frank’s challenge again though!

This theme of “competing demands” reflect more of my “current coronavirus conundrums”. While I might seem extroverted, on the deep inside is an introverted soul who needs alone time to recharge and refresh.  I used to be able to find this alone time when my children were in school (hence the reference to “9 AM to 3 AM” in the poem) and I could wander and wonder in a pseudo-nomadic state.

I don’t think my children knew this about me. When I pick them up from school, I am refreshed and ready for our afternoon and evening interactions. On the weekends, my husband is there to cover the times I would step away to recharge.

Being with them 24/7 for the past three weeks (has it only been that long that we’ve had the shelter in place order?), they have found out my secret the hard way. Now, they know that I need an hour at least by myself in the morning. They know that they need to occupy themselves with school work or playing or even (gasp!) TV or video games for that time. They know what the consequences are when I don’t get that recharge time, and how vastly more pleasurable it is at the home when I do.

In return, I have also learned more about my children’s needs at their current ages (versus when they were babies and toddlers, how they have changed!). After lunch is when my older daughter needs her alone time. My younger son needs cuddles and snacks around 3:30 (which is when we usually get home from school). My older son needs to have outside time in the middle of the day no matter what the weather is. My younger daughter needs to do something creative every day to stay happy.

Having this time with my children when they would usually be in school has been an unexpected gift from this otherwise greedy coronavirus. I read the stories about how COVID-19 has taken lives, taken jobs, taken people’s sense of a “normal life”. I wonder how many stories there are out there about what this period of time has given to people. I wonder if people would even realize that they’ve also been given a gift.

 

(c) 2020 iido