“First Job” – R.B. Salonen
Yesterday my daughter arose, all on her own accord.
While the sun and I slumbered on, blissfully unaware,
She got up, got ready for her first real job at the age of twelve.
This is no slave labor, nor a task for which she’s unfit.
Instead, the position is one she’s been preparing to take on
Ever since her brown-eyed baby sister joined our family in ’00.
Back then, at age three, her nurturing tank was activated.
A babysitter’s job-in-training course ensued the very moment
She leaned over to touch and kiss the wee one, her baby “Di-di.”
The other day, as the sun and I began to stir and her ride arrived,
It occurred to me that the earth had not shifted, no sea had divided.
Well, not on the outside, anyway, though they did within my being.
For her, it’s about money, the chance to earn and collect
And buy the things for which she’s been yearning these days:
A c.d., a pay-as-you-go phone, a trip to the moon, for all I know.
But a mother’s gaze is rarely fixed solely on the present.
Instead, it is both backward-glancing and forward-looking.
It is impossible for a mother’s thoughts to be in one place only.
Backward, I recalled that first day — the tiny pink body
Placed gently in the warmer, and eyes opening in surprise,
And my own heart melting as it did like popsicles in summer.
Forward, I imagined the possibilities of her life someday,
After the hormones have leveled and the soul has relented,
And all that she’s absorbed will be the base of all she’s to become.
At the moment of collision of both backward and forward,
I couldn’t help but wonder whether I had done what’s necessary.
Now, I thought, is when my will for her life makes way for God’s.