I watch Becky mother our children
and I wonder where she got this stuff?
When I married her, she had not trained for it.
She had taken no courses in mothering.
She was a good-looking college girl,
talented and sensitive,
spiritually astute and fun-loving.
But how could I have known
she was mother-wise?
For the four childless years of our marriage
she never let on she had been covertly equipped
to react and respond--catlike--to the needs of a child.
She studied no books and read no manuals
but knew what to do and when to do it
when each of our four children were born.
Mothering, I was to learn, was not just about
bearing an infant, nurturing a toddler,
and sending a six-year-old off to first grade.
Who knew Becky knew the delicate combination
of discipline and praise,
boundaries and freedom,
careful attention and graceful absence
that encourages children to flourish?
Is there some clandestine school for mothers,
a kind of underground academy,
undetectable by unwitting men, which
reveals the secrets and instills the acumen
for rearing and maturing a child?
Observing my partner over time,
I am convinced it is so.
It is the school of motherly love
and Becky has mastered it with honors.
More readily than me, she will find
a graceful way to let go of each child
as they mature and clamor to leave the nest.
I may anxiously wring my hands, but
she will know when they are ready to
launch hopefully forward in life,
uncannily equipped to invest themselves
to enrich the lives of others.
I tip my hat to the Master of this school,
this unseen college with unwritten curriculum.
And I yield the floor to this masterful student
who graces the lives of our children with
a wisdom, taught or caught, that brings to them
the joy and hope of life.