I have many loves
From all parts of my life
In all my years of being.
Love for God and good
And triumph over evil
In the world.
Love for people who
Are here and gone
Either on Earth or simply my life.
Love for my family
Who makes me laugh and
Cry and feel everything in between.
Love for my daughters
Who work so hard in school
To make honor roll.
Love for my husband,
Soul mate, lover,
Giver and maker.
Love for my beautiful friends
Who ground me with their love
And stand by me.
These loves lift me up
In soul and spirit
And are everlasting.
Yet other loves have broken me
Giving me pause to wonder
Why did he give up on me
For the new girl in 8th grade
Never giving me a second thought?
Why did he make me fall in
Love with him in college,
When we were 10 years apart?
Why did he leave me standing
In the rain at the airport
Taking my heart with him?
These loves challenged my
Senses, making me face dark realities
In the light of day.
These loves took something
From me but in return
Made me stronger.
These loves gave me strength,
Made me resilient.
I am a better person
For having endured the heartbreak
Because I persevered.
And from there I learned that
Loving requires patience
For nurturing understanding.
Loving gives as much as it takes,
Without keeping scorecards
Of who did the most loving.
It shapes who you are,
How you respond,
What you give back.
Loving frees you up to be more selfless,
More giving of yourself,
More inward looking.
It polishes the rough edges of your soul
To help heal the wounds
Others left behind.
Yet loving is also hard work.
It does not always come easy,
Often times leaving you lonely.
In these times it tests your marriage,
Pulling you apart in all directions
Because the spark slowly fizzled when you weren’t looking.
It feels like a long frozen winter
That has no end with the wind
Leaving you bare inside and out.
Just as in nature, love has its own seasons:
Falling in love is full of bloom
And beauty, filled with rays of joy.
The landscape is blue as the sky
With lush greens sprouting new life,
Every moment exhilarating.
Sweet Jasmine breezes fill the air
With passionate kisses
That leave you wanting more.
Building love lays the foundation
With memories you hold forever
Like the carefree days of summer.
The weekend trips you took
On a moment’s notice
Without caring about the destination.
And the concerts and plays and parties
You attended together
Will be reminders of the creation of us.
Accepting love happens when
The daily realities of life
Fall upon you like autumn leaves.
Love matures when the bills arrive,
Careers take off or crash,
Babies cry in the middle of the night.
You are in a constant state of
Shifting priorities hour to hour,
Praying that you did the right thing.
Sustaining love takes great resolve
To keep the fire burning in
The cold of night.
It is the most rewarding of seasons,
When you wrap yourself in
All the many layers of love and memories.
And, at the end of the day
You still choose your beloved
To grow old with.
A different kind of love
Involves both sides of parenthood–
Being the child and being the parent.
As children, we look up to our parents
To provide us with the necessities of life.
Some of us are lucky enough to receive these gifts.
Not everyone is so blessed.
They have to fight to be loved
And understood from within the family.
Growing up in such a lack of love
Screws up your worldview,
Messes with your head.
Some never recover from
Circumstances they never asked for
Because that’s all they’ve known.
The lucky ones get out when they can
To start over, creating the love
They never had from the beginning.
I am fortunate that my mom’s
Childhood didn’t take away her
Capacity to love her own children.
I was raised in love,
Taught to love others,
Appreciate what you have.
My parents nurtured me,
Encouraged my confidence,
Fed my self-esteem.
None of this prepared me
For the depths of love I felt
The day I brought my twins into this world.
Holding them for the first time
Took my breath away as they were
Such incredible blessings of faith and hope.
You see, we weren’t sure we would be able to have children
The day we found out about the cancer
The year we were going to start our family.
So life threw us a curve ball,
And we didn’t back down from
That year of unknowns.
We prayed for healing, life, and strength
To get us through the damning journey
Of appointments, treatments, tests.
God blessed us that year,
Woke us up and shook our cores
To show us His gifts.
We had to open our hearts to
Appreciate patience, gratitude, grace
On days that life seemed so unfair.
So the journey to parenthood was hard won,
We were overjoyed to find out
We could conceive on our own.
Then, at 17 weeks God revealed His plans
Of not one baby but two
And our lives changed forever.
Tears of joy (and fear) filled our eyes
As we saw our lives rushing by in twos–
Cars, college educations, weddings.
But love carried us through
That day and the entire pregnancy
As we launched into parenthood.
I had doubts about whether I would be a good mom,
Worried that I didn’t have that special gene
That makes everything feel better with a kiss and a hug.
With the gentle touch of God’s hand on my shoulder
And the love of my husband
My motherhood fears disappeared.
Overnight, it seemed, I jumped into this new role
With eyes and heart wide open
And heard my mother’s words come out of my mouth.
As we approach my daughters’ 13th birthdays
I see all the moments of joy (and frustration)
Play in my mind like a Hallmark movie.
Like the first time they
Walked, called me mama,
Wrote their names.
Or their first Christmas,
These events seem like they
Happened just yesterday
And I wish I could slow down the pace of our lives.
So I keep these memories close by
While creating new ones
Day in and day out.
I hope when my girls look back on their childhood
They will remember their life with us
Was good and joyful and loving.
That we always did the best we could as parents,
We had their best interests in mind,
We loved them the only way we knew how.
The best thing we can teach our children is how to love,
Show them what it looks like,
What it feels like.
So when they find love,
They will know what to do,
How to give it without expectations.
Just like we teach them about God,
His love for us and the greatest sacrifice
One could ever imagine.
We teach them the importance of respect,
The Golden Rule,
Random acts of kindness.
We teach them about being true to themselves,
To be who they are
And not change just to fit in.
We teach them about friendship,
How to grow them
And nuture them with love.
We teach them right from wrong,
To help those in need,
To learn from their mistakes.
These are the gifts of life
That money can’t buy
And can’t be exchanged.
Our job as parents will never end
But it will change over time
Until it’s the children caring for their parents.
This new frontier can happen slowly over time
Or wake you up in the middle of the night
When you get a call that they need your help.
Help getting up off the floor,
Help finding their car keys,
Help remembering who you are.
And in these moments when you remember looking to your parents
For their wisdom and advice
You find yourself being the one to offer the guidance.
The shift is unnerving,
Not for the weak of heart
For it requires living outside your comfort zone.
You quickly learn what the circle of life is all about,
Especially if you’re sandwiched between
Parenting your children and parents all at once.
There are days when you want to hide under the covers,
Numb yourself by your vice of choice,
And cry for yourself, cry for them.
Then there are days when you remember the love
They gave you and the love
You gave them.
The laughter you shared,
The joy you exchanged,
The pride you coveted.
Keep these memories alive,
Don’t let them go,
Protect them fiercely.
All these loves are special in their own right,
Each one has a place and time
That is yours alone.
But don’t ever forget that love
Starts from inside you,
Regardless of who is in your life.
The only person who will be there
To witness it all, good and bad,
So be good to you,
Love yourself like your best friend,
Make every moment count.
The times I have lost my way,
Gotten off track,
Felt the weight of the world,
Are the times I lost myself,
Stopped loving me,
Failed to recognize who I am.
The rewards of love cannot be measured
In tangible ways,
Yet we feel its presence when abundant and mourn its loss when not.
We are better humans when we give love,
Letting it float in the world,
Free to anyone who wants it.
In the Bible, the Corthinians verse 13
Captures it all so well:
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Response to 31-Day Poem Challenge