I can’t feel my arm; it’s bent around the headrest behind me to hold your hand as you fall asleep. Your tiny fingers use mine to rub your eyes and fight for comfort.
But in the mirror I see your eyelashes flicker as the streetlights pass us and I think,
It’s my joy to be uncomfortable for you.
You and I have a fight. I say, “Let me brush your hair,” and we both fall to the floor crying because it was the end of the rope for both of us that day.
But I see you twirl, I see you making adventures and creating worlds and I think,
It’s my joy to cry for you.
My closet is filled with clothes that yearn to be worn again, each have served a different season of my body: preparing for you, growing you and recovering from you. I say, “Be patient with yourself; you grew a human.” I see the way somehow still nothing fits right.
But I see the way you cling to me when you’re shy, comforted by my curves and I think,
It’s my joy to share my body with you.
My back and shoulder blades ache. I struggle under your weight as I bounce you for the nine-hundredth time. Your eyes are giving you away; you’re almost dreaming. I said, “I wouldn’t be here.” I said, “I wouldn’t be bouncing you this long.” I said, “Just one more minute.”
But your body relaxes on mine and your stubborn breath falls on my ear and I think,
It’s my joy to break my expectations for you.
I see the scars you left me. I hyperventilated under the white lights the second time they came around. I saw the knives they used and the straps on my arms. Eight pairs of arms moved me onto a cold table. Your dad had to be outside for the needle; I cried out as it pressed in.
But I see the scar that provided a way out for you and I think,
It’s my joy to make a way for you. I’d do it again tomorrow, every day.
There are days I’m not sure who I am. Sometimes your dad isn’t sure who I am either; he reaches desperately toward me only to find a closed door. I wonder if joy is still out there somewhere. I think, “Will I get past this?” I try to feed you and you throw hours of work on the ground, you want noodles. You cry out in anger. Anxiety closes the windows I had left to breathe. Why is it like this, how did I get here, who loves me?
But I see you smile when you hear a song you know. Your pleased eyes find mine. I pick you up in your wet boots and we dance under the kitchen light. I see the way the light hugs your face. And I know. You need me; you are because of me. You are me. I am your home and I am mom and you are my wonder. I feel the light too and I realize,
It’s been a joy to be broken for you.
And I know in my bones,
I’m more whole because of you.