you are fourteen

Dear Dakota/Dakofo/Baby Bear/Baby Boy/Monkey Toe/Peach Butt/Magic Bean/Tyke,

I had to include all your nicknames in there, right?

As I start this letter it is 4:53 pm on August 31, 2018. Fourteen years ago at this moment, I was sitting silently in our dark bedroom when we lived on Holly Ridge in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My eyes were closed and I was half meditating, half-praying. I was terrified. I was scared of the pain of labor, scared of the needles, scared of you getting harmed or being sick, scared of everything, and yet, I KNEW it was going to be okay. I just KNEW. Nana had been gone five months and I felt her presence so strongly and I knew she would watch over us.

I was also scared to be a mama, in general. So worried that I would hold you the wrong way, or feed you wrong, or not be able to breastfeed, or calm you, etc. I was (and still am) worried that I would fuck up everything and you’d be in therapy by age four, or that someone would hurt you or kidnap you or you’d smother in a blanket; the worries are totally irrational and endless! There is a quote: “Having a child is like having your own heart walking around outside of your body.” Nothing has ever been more true.

When I first held you and looked down at you, it was like looking into my own face and I felt a wave of sheer terror: your safety, development, and happiness depended on me now. You come first, then and now, and always. 

You were my shadow the first five years of your life. We were very blessed that I was able to stay home with you full time. Our early days were full of communing in the wee hours of morning, you latched on to eat, me rocking back and forth, rocking, rocking, endlessly rocking. For a long time I would just instinctually rock while standing even if I wasn’t holding you. We would look into each other’s eyes for hours. Those moments will never go away for either of us.

When you were a toddler, our days were filled with learning how to count, the ABCs, puzzles, books, reading, flashcards of words. I wanted to give you the best possible start, so we began “school” before you could even sit up by yourself. We would go outside and talk about plants and bugs and clouds and rain and everything was why, why, why? And in those days, those were the questions that were easy to answer. Now, it’s a bit more difficult.

You were born into a very broken world. And it’s going to take a lot of glue, baby. A whole lot of glue. The good news is all the pieces are still there. The pieces are composed of the good things this world has to offer us: our family and friendships, the generosity of the planet despite our abusing it, the humor, and the love. Most importantly, the love. Love is everything. Love is God. You need look no further. You can be the glue by spreading your kindness, understanding, patience, wicked sense of humor, and heart everywhere you go. Never let this world make you bitter or unkind. You are better than that.

I could never begin to tell you how proud I am of you. You have exceeded my hopes and dreams in every possible way. You light up a room with your gentleness and humor. You work so hard to be successful in school. Your artistic talent is staggering. You are responsible, disciplined, committed, and always so respectful. You have been a dream to raise. As always, thank you for choosing me to be your mama.

I can’t promise you that I will always be here for you, and that’s not because of my health, but because no one can make that promise to anyone. We have control over what we do and the choices we make, but we are also often victims of circumstance. Does everything happen for a reason? I don’t know. I think some things do, but I also think some things just…happen. It’s frustrating, I know. But I CAN promise you this: you will never be without me. No matter where I am, no matter where you are, we are joined in love. Flesh of my flesh, are you. I will always do everything in my power, in whatever time or space of universe, to protect you and show you how much you are cherished. I know you know this, but I am always on your side, no matter what. If you’re wrong, we’ll fix it, and you will learn from it. Either way, I will defend you to the death. You can share or tell me anything and I will always love you and support you.

Here are some handy life tips just because:

  • Always hold open doors for people, regardless of their gender; same goes for opening car doors.

  • Always be nice to your restaurant server or cashier or anyone in retail. These jobs are hard and people are dicks to them all day long. Don’t be one of the dicks. Ask them how their day is going.

  • Never be silent if you hear or see someone being bullied.

  • Respect everyone until they give you a real, solid reason not to. Then you may tell them to fuck off.

  • Speaking of that, watch your fucking language, for fuck’s sake. Know your audience.

  • Never go to bed angry.

  • If you love someone, tell them EVERY SINGLE DAY.

lastly;

  • Please un-bunch your socks before you put them in the laundry basket because it makes them really hard to get clean in the wash.

;-)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

I love you eternally,
Mama

 

© jennifer summer | 2018

© jennifer summer | 2018

gardening

 

And then she can breathe again, the fresh air of him plumping out her lungs, pillowing into her chest.  This is the only place where letting go is permissible to her, where she crashes into full surrender.  He pours his pulse down her throat; his tongue carves a tome between her thighs, and it’s the story of how this coming together is an orchid, blooming in aching night, forever free from daylight’s scrutiny.

 

full body memory

 

This is a piece I wrote a year ago, but I have re-worked it here.

--

The body remembers.
 

It remembers every time Nana tucked a lock of hair behind my child ear; the prism of shattered glass that lodged itself in my temple, another car's reckless impact slamming my face into the steering wheel; the deeply fragrant coconut suntan lotion I'd slather across my limbs at the first suggestion of summer, days when you could almost taste the wildness of possibility on your lips; the beautiful poet's grip on my hips, moans swirling through thick air, offering my eyes his moonstone smile, nose crinkle-cut with laughter; Max's heavy forest of a paw reaching out to plant itself in my own palm.

It remembers the singular drag of a razor across my forearm, petrified that I was no one's daughter; the hours spent on the tips of my toes, happily trading pain for bliss; the meals skipped and the hollow cavern created inside; the tiny spirit I wasn't ready to love flowing out as an unrepentant river down my thighs; the too many uninvited hands.

A body strains under the weight of collected memory.  But it also forgives, perseveres and sustains.  I thank it by treating it gently, feeding it with life and motion. We're in this together.  We remember for each other.

image & text © Jennifer Summer | 2015

image & text © Jennifer Summer | 2015

 

Dirty Pretty Things

Put your hands on my knees, she said, and think of me as a book you’ve been dying to read.

- Michael Faudet, Dirty Pretty Things

Oh, this book does things to me.  The most wonderful things.

shooting arrows at the sky

 

out of my way
you missed with your magic
out of my way
you see, you missed with your magic
out of my way
you see, you missed with your magic
I'm fighting when you fallback
I'm shooting arrows at the sky.

- ‘Shooting Arrows at the Sky’ | Santigold

 

 

what my body was made for

My body was made to move.    Lean child legs painted maps of escape through dense woods; abused toes stood en pointe, calf muscles twitched.    Rolling down hills, chin tucked to chest, limbs askance; breathing hijacked by the rush of falling and the relief of stillness.    The morning stretch; fingers closing around thin air.    The tightening abdominal pull of deep, holy laughter; a savory rhythm invading the hips and demanding the answer of a dance.    A single pirouette reply to a note of music.     My body was made to fuck.    A wealth of hair to trap and pull, raising the heart to the heavens.    Teeth to drag against the pulse in his neck; a voice to beg.    Thighs to receive the streams of two needs, mine and yours.    A smile to break through the dark when love shows up.         My body was made to birth.    Stomach morphing into moon, aching pelvis and sleepy mind.    Breasts filling, lotus blossoming, opening up; the blinding agony of a conjoined universe splitting in two.    The cherry-red tie that binds during those first moments that will never look like any other moment; as unique as flakes of snow.     My body was made to resent being told what it was made for.         It rejects the construct of knee-skimming skirts declaring an antiquated purity.    It protests against labels; it balks at the promise of being made whole only upon finding its soul mate or of reaching nirvana solely through gleaming strings of lovers. It kicks in the teeth the assertion that motherhood defines true womanhood and it rages against the notion that balancing a babe in each arm while milk flows from its breasts contradicts authentic feminism.    My body denounces all intruders, all preachers, and lords.    It banishes those who seek to inspire shame or fear; it snuffs out the flame of self-loathing.     My body accepts only what warms its bones and pulls euphoria from its lungs.     All else is cast out and burned to the ground, feeding the earth with ash.

My body was made to move.  Lean child legs painted maps of escape through dense woods; abused toes stood en pointe, calf muscles twitched.  Rolling down hills, chin tucked to chest, limbs askance; breathing hijacked by the rush of falling and the relief of stillness.  The morning stretch; fingers closing around thin air.  The tightening abdominal pull of deep, holy laughter; a savory rhythm invading the hips and demanding the answer of a dance.  A single pirouette reply to a note of music.

 

My body was made to fuck.  A wealth of hair to trap and pull, raising the heart to the heavens.  Teeth to drag against the pulse in his neck; a voice to beg.  Thighs to receive the streams of two needs, mine and yours.  A smile to break through the dark when love shows up. 

 

My body was made to birth.  Stomach morphing into moon, aching pelvis and sleepy mind.  Breasts filling, lotus blossoming, opening up; the blinding agony of a conjoined universe splitting in two.  The cherry-red tie that binds during those first moments that will never look like any other moment; as unique as flakes of snow.

 

My body was made to resent being told what it was made for. 

 

It rejects the construct of knee-skimming skirts declaring an antiquated purity.  It protests against labels; it balks at the promise of being made whole only upon finding its soul mate or of reaching nirvana solely through gleaming strings of lovers. It kicks in the teeth the assertion that motherhood defines true womanhood and it rages against the notion that balancing a babe in each arm while milk flows from its breasts contradicts authentic feminism.  My body denounces all intruders, all preachers, and lords.  It banishes those who seek to inspire shame or fear; it snuffs out the flame of self-loathing.

 

My body accepts only what warms its bones and pulls euphoria from its lungs.   All else is cast out and burned to the ground, feeding the earth with ash.