I actually wrote this poem a few months ago. That particular night, however, I did not have the emotional energy to post it, and since then the Princess and I have been sailing pretty smooth waters, so it has felt less relevant.
Today, however, it feels very authentic. It’s not that her behavior was so very unreasonable. She was justifiably frustrated about Mommy and Daddy working through virtually the entire snow day, while she and her brother had to entertain themselves. (By the way, I have discovered the downside of having a job that let’s me work from home).
Then at the end of this long, somewhat boring day, after Mommy had finally shut down her computer, Princess Imagination didn’t get to do her “show” at the exact moment she wanted to and she lost it. She’s seven. I understand.
I understand how she felt, and I also understand that sometimes my understanding doesn’t help. Sometimes she doesn’t need me to tell her that I understand. Sometimes she needs me to tell her that she is making poor decisions. Sometimes she needs my patience to sit and wait for her to work it through herself. And sometimes waiting for her to get over her fit of temper is so…damned…hard.
Mother to a butterfly
This smooth, hard floor is scraping at my patience
exposing an apparently raw nerve,
the urge to Just…Get…On with this damned metamorphosis.
This silent sitting nearly breaks my will
not hers, as I suppose I’m hoping for.
Resentment at this stasis brings distressing will to break.
But, staring at that fragile, frame curved in
around her anger, pain, thoughts I can’t read
I know cocoons must open from inside, I can’t break in.
And so I wait, exhaling stuttering prayers,
an incoherent hope that I won’t fail,
that love can still me long enough to give her time to grow.
Because, whatever started this display,
I know that what she needs is not my words,
but presence, that can prove I love her – butterfly or worm.
And then, soft miracle for both our hearts,
two quiet words, “I’m sorry” as she moves,
bright wings, unfurled now, curving around me; I get to see my butterfly reborn.