Faith, Family, & Focaccia

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


Imaginative Freedom: Day 7 of the April Poetry Challenge

Apparently the Gigglemonster inherited more from me than his brown eyes and his extreme sensitivity to tickling. He is clearly also a born story-teller. He loves to hear stories; he loves to act them out; and most of all he likes to create them out of the quirky delightfulness of his own imagination.

This penchant is most frequently displayed when the current reality does not line up with his preferences. It’s not that he is a LIAR exactly, but more than he has a complicated relationship with the truth – it is just so confining and uninspiring. Much more fun to explore the realm of possibility, where history can contain any experience his little four-year-old mind can dream up, and where his sister’s ever practical correction can’t intrude with withering assertions “that never happened!”

I can’t wait to start reading the stories he will write in a few more years…


Oh, To Be a Ghost Grown-up


“When I was a ghost grown-up…”

that’s my son’s standard introduction

to imaginative tales of things

he’s never done.

Professions he has never worked (a knight, a dentist, a mythbuster),

places he has never been (the moon, a pirate ship, Erendell),

lives he has never lived (dangerous, exciting, magical),

all breathed to life with the strong force of his boundless storytelling.


It is a carefully selected self that bars all contradiction.

A ghost cannot be seen,

so who can witness to its absence?

A grown up – in his 4-year-old belief – suffers no limits,

there is no one to say “No” where grown-ups have a will to do.

And so, these stories too can grow without constraint,

an outlet for a mind that yearns to live each moment to the very tip of thought.


I’ve heard of epic battles he has fought and won,

of ten motherless children he has raised with love and care.

(each has a name, if an unusual one).

I’ve marveled at the complicated web of tangled powers and desires that his mind evokes.

I’ve ached to see frustration in each tale of loss, of failure, or of woe.

I’ve learned to listen for the dream, the cherished hope

that needs this outlet for release.

To ponder how to keep him safe

while also giving room for dreams to grow into reality.


And… I have wondered.

Just what would it be like to be, myself, a “ghost grown up”?

No limits to contain my mind or will,

no drudgery of trapping practicality,

no fetters of responsibility to hold me to the one life I have chosen.

But… no reality either,

to make my life the fragile, precious, messy, beautiful mix of love and boundaries,

that grows each day,

even within constraints;

and with no dreamer boy to hold – fixed to the ground – while I listen to his wondrous tales

take flight…


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Gigglemonster sleepingBedtimes this week have been a bit rough for the Gigglemonster. And by “a bit” I mean I got about 4 hours of sleep last night, most in 30-40 minute snatches, and most with his wriggling body within kicking distance of my abdomen.

I am well aware that this last confession could theoretically spark a heated cyber-debate about various child-rearing theories related to co-sleeping, but frankly I’m too tired to deal with that (4 hours, people!). Besides, I learned absolutely nothing relevant to those debates last night, other than the fact that something written in a book (or on a blog) is completely irrelevant at 4 am when your son is hysterical.

The precise cause of the hysteria is not entirely clear. It could be the fact that Daddy has been gone all week, travelling for work, which always throws off the family balance in palpable ways. It could be that the baseboard heating in our new-to-him house makes weird creaking noises which alarmingly mimic the sounds of stealthy footsteps in the hall. It could be that my sometimes helicopter tendencies have nevertheless been unable to shelter him from the myriad images and messages of danger that pollute both the natural and social worlds. It could just be another symptom of the generalized anxiety he has been feeling ever since we landed Stateside and he finally understood what all of our talk about “moving” actually meant.

Whatever the reason, the hysteria is real. It just is. Sure, he also really likes sleeping cuddled up next to Mommy, and he’s angling for every Daddy-absent opportunity to do this, but the hysteria is also real. When he awakens after a nightmare in the cold, dark, loneliness of night, fear clamps his little body and mind in a vice grip that is beyond my power to break, short of replacing its hands with my own. All he can process — all he can take in or spew out — is the intense, driving need to be near me. Because, by the mingled miracle and curse that comes from being Mommy, in my little boy’s eyes I am safety and comfort and peace.

I really can’t speak with any moral authority on the co-sleeping debate. However, this week’s palpable, messy, painful, exhausting battle with my son’s clinging fear has nevertheless taught me something. It has left me bruised, and snappy, and much less the perfect-mother that I want to be, but it has taught me something all the same.

It has reminded me of the power of need. Need, intense, driving need can focus our attention and open us up to having that need met. Need is the polar opposite of apathy. So tonight, I am inspired to need.

I hope what I mean by that is evident in the poem my son’s night-time drama has provoked.


Like a child waking from a nightmare

Desperate; Crying

“Please come. Please! I need you!”


“The darkness is too big and strong.

I am so small and weak.

And I can’t make the monsters go away.


“I’m frightened by the noises I don’t understand.

My own imagination is my enemy,

conjuring phantasms of fear and doubt.


“What if something comes that I cannot fight?

What if I am swallowed up?

What if you don’t hear my call until it is too late?




I need your arms to shelter in – they are so strong.

I need your voice to soothe away the nightly noises.

I need your body close enough to taste – it is so real.

As real as wine and bread that brings new life.


The monsters too will fear if you’re my sheltering wall,

my cave to hide inside until the daylight breaks night’s deadly spell.

Your presence here will cast out fear with love,

the love of light and warmth and heart whose rhythm fills my ear.


But when the fear subsides and rhythm moves

my feet to dance away from sheltering arms,

don’t let me lose this need, this desperate need

to call my Comforter with childlike faith.