To All Those Expecting Their First

To all those expecting their first

by Idris Goodwin

By now you’re a wide receiver of parenting advice

From every walk of life

New parents

Old parents

Flinging into your arms without invitation

Even crackheads

Because even drug addicts can procreate

Even people with no kids

Cuz they got a niece or nephew

Or they raised their little brother

Or they have a dog

“I mean I know it’s not the same but”

Everybody’s a quarterback

These days you’re playing emotional badminton

Checking the locks running down your chest

And counting the coins

And practicing the George Clooney face

The one broadcasting the world

“yeah I got this”

Until the day comes

And when it arrives

You’re pulling all that advice out

of the trash

as the scatter brain nights become one with

The cacophony of early morning’s fatigue

Cross brewed with forkfuls of comfort food

But these are not the hardest parts

you’ve trained for this

You’ve amassed a war chest of

Wasted afternoons, Day dreams

Fist fights, Breakups

Report cards, Punishments

Kisses, Rebounds, crammed tests

Binges, Battles

Victories

You will pull from this utility belt day in and out

month to month

you’ll watch him glow

When you re-enter a room

His smile revives every pore

makes the blood alert

His laughter matching yours

One tooth after another filling out his smile

His face all 8 teeth exposed as your arms launch him in the air

His wobbly but confident new steps on growing legs

His mimicry

You drink out the tea cup

he drinks out the tea cup

You handle keys

He wants a set for himself

He wants to hold a pen to paper

Like you

The hardest part is knowing

The purity of these acts

The purity of the emotion driving this

curiosity can’t always be protected

That tears will erupt from his face

That he will bruise his head

misstep on the stairs

And topple

the magical object will be taken from his hands

and the surface will be hotter than expected

The hardest part is knowing that he must endure this

that he will endure more

The hardest part is watching him leap between the between poles of joy and despair

And you will hope not to fail him

But you know that you will him

That you do—

This is harder than sleepless nights

The depth of his tears

the terrorism of his diapers

Accepting that you are at the mercy

That this little man

Is on his own walk

Your mother tells you

He belongs to God

And because you know God

Giveth and taketh

you will hope for his cheeks

for the fingers and toes

that you can remain the tree of refuge

hope for his eye lashes, his elbows

hope you and your partner will see the other side of this together

hope for tomorrow

And that’s just the first year

So to you the expecting

Here’s one last Piece of advice

Learn how to pray

And if you know how to pray

For the love of God, pray for the rest of us

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