Held: a quiet presence

IMG_0353

When we want to support our teen or adolescent, the three-foot wide air of independence they prefer to create as pillow around themselves doesn’t always invite the gifts of assistance and conversation we want to offer them. Rather, it creates more of a bounce house effect where we find ourselves propelled in the other direction, the closer we try to get to them. Transition is hard, and we want to honor our children’s desires for “self-actualization” as well as assist in those areas that feel far far away from any breath of that lofty idea.

The world “held” has come into my sphere over the past couple of years, and what that has come to mean to me is merely, “holding with loving intention.” I know that could sound a bit “woo-woo”, but really, when you focus on a person, child or otherwise, with confidence and love, you give off a certain quality and thickness of air as well. I interpret this space as “welcome”, “trust”, “availability”, “acceptance”. And in my experience (and believe me, there are exceptions), those moments of “holding” tend to draw in, rather than push away. They create a resting pillow rather than a bounce house.

Being “held” can be in itself the loving gift placed on their pillows or tucked into their bedsheets. It doesn’t take the place of meaningful and essential conversation, but it does blanket the spaces in-between with a warmth that oftentimes they can feel during these thresholds of their lives. . . .

Small Bites: poem, “Learning to Dance”

DSC_0133

Ginny and John hanging out as brother and sister before meeting up with their dates for the prom.

It’s a great month to create collections of poetry that reflect thresholds in our  lives. Gathering a meaningful collection of quotes or poetry and storing it in a journal or a laptop can become a sacred space or resting place to enter into when you just need to be reminded of those “certain” things that we so often forget- those things that change with the ingredients of time and experience, such as: awkwardness at 13 can lead to elegance at 30, stammering in middle school can evolve into eloquence in graduate school, and a first dance in adolescence can be the doorway into the school of life experience. Here’s a lovely example of this by poet, Charles Fishman. Feel free to sit in the hammock of his words for awhile:

Learning to Dance, 1956

For Marlene Broich

It was the 50s, and all of us

were kids, but you were older—

almost a woman—and you would

teach me to dance. You were

the dark-haired child in a family

of blondes, slightly exotic, wilder,

my best friend’s sister.

In your father’s basement,

you took my hand and showed me

how to hold you—how to hold

a woman. I was fourteen and knew

already how to be awkward. You knew

I was falling into shadows.

When I breathed 
your hair, I was no longer in the forest

but had broken through

to a clearing where tall grasses whispered

and swayed, where white-petalled daisies

and violet clover blossomed in profusion.

You moved me deeper into the music

and made a meadow spring up around me.

Your body showed me that I had strength

to change the moment, if only the quiet

power of a summer breeze . . .

When you said I would be a good dancer,

that I had rhythm

that I could swing,

I held you close: some day,

I would find the one

who would pull me near to her in love,

not mercy; I would dance with her

and learn her secret names.

Crossing the threshold: love poem to a 14 year old boy

IMG_0200

Sometimes you open your eyes to the glinting squinting morning world knowing something has changed. Your child has grown a bit taller, an adolescent voice resonates in deeper or brighter tones, an awakening happens that allows a son or daughter to see the world in a different way- somehow the shades have been pulled up and the windows have been pushed open. Recording the tiny thresholds of a life by playing a song, or creating a piece of writing, such as  a poem, can be a valuable threshold marker, for the maker and the recipient. Here is one I wrote to my boy at age 14, and later gifted to him as a token of his mother’s love at any and every age, tough or tender, smooth-cheeked or speckled with the raw red signs of growing up:

To My John

You came to me wooly and white,

big and soft and brand new,

dragged around by your sister in

the arms of awkward love;

strawberries, red and ripe

marked your birth.

I’d dip my face into your curly hair,

soft peaks of meringue near

sweet pink cheeks and let your little

body curl up inside the cave of my

ribs all tucked up in love.

Now you’re 14, voice falling into

deep rich places, body growing taller

than mine, hair tufts of spun gold.

I still love you more than all of the

strawberries in the world- I love you

redder, I love you sweeter; I still tuck

the curl of your soul into my heart,

the curl of your body in mine as I

sneak a cuddle at bedtime.

I still look at you and see all the boy

you once were and all the boy you’re

becoming, and feel proud, moved,

and deeply in love.

– Gina Marie Mammano

Where are the small markings of your love today?