Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.


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This entry is a bit of a departure for me. It is my first poem (since college lit. class), so I do not quite have the confidence in this format for communication to let it stand on its own. Thus, this brief explanatory note:

As will hopefully be self-evident, Princess Imagination and I have had some skirmishes this week. Their stimuli were nothing very momentous – things like not putting on her shoes, or my insistence that she brush her hair – but they have forced me to examine myself, my responsibilities, and my motives for discipline in the spotlight of her angry little glare. This examination has helped me to recognize in new ways the danger of my own unexamined frustration and anger. It brought me to a new understanding of the weight of responsibility in raising my wonderful, sensitive, strong-willed daughter. And, ultimately, it inexorably, thankfully, drives me to prayer. So without further adieu….


Rushing headlong up the slopes of escalation

locked in the close embrace of argument.

Careening from defiance to exasperation,

pulled by the gravity of frustrated expectations.

We reach a pinnacle — a choice:

to leap together onto the angry rocks,

to crash and break, at least apart if not to pieces;

or to stop short and balance on the pain.


The pinnacle is a razor’s edge,

slicing deep into my feet, my foundation.

But I am the parent. I must hold her

back from the plunge, up from the slice of recrimination.

The stones cut deep to the supporting bone,

sheer away soft, self-indulging flesh

of ego, indignation, and entitlement.

These can’t support my daughter’s weight pressed into mine.


But the bones of love are diamond strong.

They find their grip, hold firm against emotion’s wind.

We will not fall, we will not break apart

to suffer loss of trust and scars of bitterness.


I hold her close for the descent

then gently set her down to climb together,

offer my bloody footprints as a guide

if she will choose to walk in them.


She is still young, still small enough to carry,

But she will one day scale these rocks with others.

God let the diamond light of love then guide her,

not mine, but yours you give me in the climb.

A few of my favorite recent snaps of my strong-willed, sparkling little girl)

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Author: Serena Gideon Rice

In early 2011 my family moved our home, temporarily, from New Jersey to Milan, Italy. In the process I quit what had been my dream job conducting policy-directed social science research, to focus on my other dream job, raising our two young children. The three-year adventure was exciting, exhausting, disorienting, fulfilling, and countless other contradictions. It also birthed in me a desire to share my reflections on life's joys and challenges with anyone who cares to reflect with me. Now that we have returned to the US I'm finding that the new perspective I gained in Europe has come with me, and gives me a whole new way of interacting with my home. There's still so much to learn and share! I hope you'll share the journey, and add your own lessons to my daily education.

One thought on “Escalating

  1. Serena, that is an incredible post and poem ! I have the eerie feeling of having experienced it twice before. Pam talked about this when Sophia was 5. How do you let an incredibly creative mind flourish while maintaining limits, without which, life is impossible. You need limits to keep (somewhat) sane and limits hamper that creative growth process and you want a kid who is bright and also polite, listening, and responding when you ask her to do a task. The time before was happened as I raised Pam (5 or 6 yrs).
    Your kids are so amazing, the little stuff passes. You are so well-balanced, loving, and creative in your process of raising your kids. It’s great to see. Dan

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