I Need You (A Poem)

You need me

I need you, too,
to make me face the hurts I felt
when I was small like you.

I need the way you love,
and fight,
so unrefined and unrestrained,
to teach me how to do them well:
where to let loose,
and where to master myself.

I need your fingers pressed in dough
to remind me of what is true.

I need your eyes,
the way you glow at ladybugs and worms
the reminder to slow,
to notice,
to see,

I need you to make me question
and think through how to raise you
to humble me to the depths
of the pages of parenting books
and my knees in prayer.

I need you to watch me
so I remember to be the kind of person
that I hope you become,
to remind me I can’t fake it.

I need you to stop my thoughts,
interrupt my pursuits,
insert yourself in my business.
I need you to give me all the chances
to choose love and patience and goodness
over convenience and comfort and me-first.

I need you to drive me crazy
so I can clearly see were I’m stuck,
where I’m hanging on to crusty habits
and where I still need to grow up.

I need you to eat in the middle of the night,
deprive me of sleep,
to throw your food on the floor,
to cry for no reason that I understand,
and scream in the grocery store.
I need you to show me what I can endure for love.

I need you to require me
to try and see things from your perspective
so I can try to keep from damaging
your confidence in your own vision.

I need to see you sigh with relief, safety,
when you see how much I love your dad
and how much he loves me,
when we kiss and hug in the kitchen.

I need all your differences from me,
the ultimate testing ground
for loving unconditionally.
I need all your sameness
so I can heal vicariously.

I need your quick and easy smiles,
I need to watch them get heavier, weighted, with each passing year
as you witness and experience pain
so I can plead in whispers,
“please don’t let that ever be because of me.”

I need you to ask me what it means to be grown up,
so I can ask myself the same question,
trying to stay curious and adult at the same time
so I can tell you it’s possible.

I need your faith, your belief
in the good things you can’t see,
your trust that they are there,
that the best things come eventually.

I need your warm arms around my neck,
your wet kisses on my lips,
your sticky hands on my cheeks,
their softening effect on my callouses.

I need your sparkly pinks, your swords and guns,
to remind me to lighten up
and not see problems everywhere.

I need all your reminders
that you don’t need so many things,
but you do have the right to me:
present and imperfect, but trying.

I need you to give me practice
at saying an unqualified “I’m so sorry,”
again and again.

I need you to be my reminder
to be careful and gentle with you,
of the importance of tenderness,
the kind that makes you run home to me at Christmas,
and want me when you’re sick,
take care of me when I’m fragile,
and remember how much I loved you
with every touch,
with every smile,
with every moment I could meet
one of your needs.


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