goodbye mom

June 30th, 2014

montrose02I could not feed you.
But you did not starve.
I could not comfort you.
But you found your rest.
I could not carry you.
But you learned to walk.
I could not teach you.
But you taught yourself.
I could not keep you
shape you
mold you
trick you
tweak you
push or pull you.
After a while, I couldn’t dress you
or even comb your hair.
I couldn’t brush your teeth.
You wouldn’t change your shoes!
I could not understand you.
And I still don’t.
But I can love you
when I stop trying
to do everything else.
The longest goodbye is not the one we give our children.
It is the one we give ourselves.
Goodbye mom.
How long have I labored
when the labor was long done.

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Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
spring comes and the grass grows by itself.


  1. My babe just had his 25th birthday…and all that you speak of, I know well. And you say it so beautifully…

    Comment by Clare — July 1, 2014 @ 6:28 am

  2. “I can love you when I stop trying to do everything else.” Yes. I can’t read these words without tears of recognition. All week — all my life?? — my work has so clearly been about letting go. I’m practicing hard here. Thank you for prying my fingers loose from the steering wheel once again. xo

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — July 1, 2014 @ 7:24 am

  3. I’ve spent years mourning my body’s inability to grow life! I’m a mother by the bittersweet miracle of adoption. It’s still hard to digest that one day I won’t be able to offer pregnancy, breastfeeding guidance to my own daughter.

    “Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
    spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”

    That quote. It’s one of my favorite. Once, a few years back, I even blogged about it.

    Comment by nichole — July 1, 2014 @ 7:33 am

  4. wow. so powerful, Karen. thank you.

    Comment by Ally — July 1, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  5. Beautiful.
    There are so much things I did not know about my mother. I feel that I to never truly understood her, never was allowed to really understand her.
    But I know her smell, her skin, the way it feels to the touch, the way it wrinkled on her arms and nose, the shape of her nails and fingers, the way she pursed her lips, the way and reason why tears would well up in her eyes on certain events, her hair and the way it curled, I could know her feelings by the sound of her breath.
    I think the hardest part is to forgive myself for where I fell short.
    That is -for me- “the labour when the labour was long done”

    Comment by Simone — July 3, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  6. @nichole:
    We had a wonderful midwife when our daughters were born. At a certain point she told me that the shape of her pelvis made it impossible for her to have a natural birth herself. With all her own babies she went into labour and then left for the hospital for a cesarian. She was a great help and support to us, even though she had no experience of giving birth herself. Open your heart, love your child and things will find their way.

    Comment by Simone — July 4, 2014 @ 1:34 am

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