The Pains of Parenthood

It's three in the morning.
Her whimpers echo through our apartment.
I half expect tiny wolves living in our cupboards
to respond with their own melancholy howls.
She balls her fists, a diminutive pugilist.
"All children get colds," my mother tells me over the phone.
It is a badge on the Scouts sash of life, I suppose.
It doesn't make her suffering any easier.
Hugs and a damp face cloth are small comforts.
A pain that pulses deep in my chest -
a pain that drops suddenly into my gut,
an elevator plummeting down an endless shaft -
I can't get the image right! A sensation I've never felt before:
the pain of parenthood.
That feeling of helplessness, of guilt
for not being able to take away my child's hurt,
to click it into oblivion like an icon on a desktop.
I have been permanently marked.
I will exhibit my scars ala Jaws to other veterans of parenthood,
their knowing nods and slaps on the back, perhaps a consolation someday.
Let the scars on my heart be a warning to those not yet parents.

Greg Santos
Paris, France
January 11, 2011

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