Somehow: an Ode to Parenthood

by Pam Goldberg Smith October 27, 2017

Depressed man

This is a submission in our monthly contest. October’s theme is Determination.

You know the days. The ones where you can’t catch a breath, or a second to stop and think. You roll again and again with the punches to keep your head above water. And still something, somehow piles on. The sleepless sunrises follow sleepless nights of waking upon waking. You try different tactics. Swaddled rocking or scheduled training. Soothing song or quiet dark. Another feed. Another diaper change. Another 24 hours. And somehow, you’re doing it.

The car breaks down full of groceries. A hungry infant wails as you convey the urgency of your situation to the jaded operator of the towing company. They easily charge almost double what you spent on the food that now sits spoiling in the backseat. And somehow, you’re doing it. A virus sweeps through your household and you can’t tell whose bodily fluids stain the sweatpants you’ve worn for days. Taking a shower seems pointless; the laundry has piled up and the only clean clothes no longer fit. And somehow, you’re doing it.

You’ve diligently stayed late at the office to prepare for a project. Assured colleagues you could handle it. The final presentation is interrupted by a phone call. A newfound allergy, a burst appendix, a broken bone. The rush to the hospital is anger and worry, adrenaline tinged with rationality. And somehow, you’re doing it.

The voice of critics mounts so loud and consistent that you begin to hear it in your own thoughts. You did something wrong. Said something wrong. Believe something wrong. Doubts compete with self-assurance, teetering for space on the edge of your sanity. And somehow, you’re doing it.

The school trip slip, or treats for a bake sale, or necessary science project component. Forgotten on the counter where you were sure you’d remember it. You race against time and battle snail-paced traffic, knowing in the big scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. But in the end, the look on their face is all that matters. The clock ticks on. And somehow, you’re doing it.

You’ve attended recitals and sports practices. Waded through birthday parties and waiting rooms alike. Patiently spent hours on homework problems you never dreamed you’d face again. And you thought you were prepared for the first time “I hate you” crosses their lips. And somehow, you’re doing it.

Silence fills their conversations with you. You, who are now too old, or too familiar, to truly understand their rage. Days, weeks, months pass with nary a “thank you.” Until all it takes is a broken heart, a misunderstanding of how cruel life can be, to send them rushing back into your arms. Only your words and shoulder can provide comfort. And somehow, you’re doing it.

The distance between phone calls grows. Visits occur when convenient and thus, not as often as you’d prefer. The static interrupts notifications of promotions and marriage. Then one day, they understand completely. Look up at you with awe as they hold a new child in their arms. The questions flood. How did you do it? You take a breath. Stop to think. And somehow, you did it.

Pam Goldberg Smith


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