“Good job, Mommy!”

My life day to day was lived through ordinary actions and powerful emotions. But the more ordinary, actual, the more intense the day I lived. The more I lifted a child, conscious of nothing but the sweetness of a child’s skin, or the light behind an apple tree, or rain on slates, the more language and poetry came to my assistance. The words that had felt stilted, dutiful, and decorative when I was a young and anxious poet, now sang and flew. Finally, I had joined together my life as a woman and a poet. On the best days I lived as a poet, the language at the end of my day — when the children were asleep and the curtains drawn — was the language all through my day: it had waited for me.

— Eavan Boland, “Letters to a Young Woman Poet” (By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry, ed. Molly McQuade. Graywolf Press, 2000.)


Our little hilltown was swarming with tourists today, with cars parked along all the side streets, and the Bridge of Flowers teemed with people and their cameras. Vincent usually loves to run down the Bridge, but there was just too many people. When we reached the other end, I so wished I’d brought our camera, because what did we come upon then but several troupes of Morris Dancers!

If you’ve never seen Morris Dancers, well, I don’t know how to describe them. Faintly ridiculous, maybe. The first time I ever saw this folk dance, I burst out laughing. But I’ve come to appreciate their energetic handkerchief-waving, their jangling legs and stick-whacking. And Vincent loved it, clapping and waving his hands and bobbing his head. We watched them for quite a long time, until my growling stomach forced me to sling Vincent (who did not want to go home by any means) over my shoulder and thread our way back through the tourists. When we finally managed to get to the front door of our apartment (“Is that my home, Mommy? What about that one?”), Vincent pet my shoulder and said, “Good job, Mommy!”

We’ve reached that stage where the child finds it necessary to give the parents positive reinforcement. Is my need for praise that obvious? And apparently I lack imagination, because when I look in on him during those suspiciously quiet moments in his room, he explains that he’s cooking pizza or shaking his booty (yes, truly, this is something he does) in a tone of voice I can only describe as professorial, with his hands raised and held out from his shoulders as he shakes them.

I can’t say for sure where he gets this from, but I have my suspicions…and it’s not me.

"This is <i>not</i> a crate, this is a <i>boat</i>, okay, Mommy?"
"This is not a crate. This is a boat. Okay, Mommy? A boat."

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