Despite being an English major in college, poetry has never been at the top of my list of favorite art forms. But several years ago I came across a poem that I immediately fell in love with: “Sailing to Byzantium” by William Butler Yeats. Wanting to save that poem, I copied and pasted it into a Word document that I optimistically labeled Favorite Poems, hoping that someday I would find others to add to my existing “collection” of one poem.
And, fortunately, I did. Over the years that Favorite Poems document has grown into an eclectic collection that ranges from “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson to “The God Who Loves You” by Carl Dennis. And while I don’t often read through the collection, everyone once in awhile something will happen that sends me back to one of those poems.
The latest example is our recent trip to Chicago to visit our two oldest children, Jake and Hanna, their spouses, and our five grandchildren. We stayed at our daughter Hanna’s house. (The photos here are of Hanna and her family.) As I watched her juggle all the various tasks that moms with little kids have to juggle, I immediately thought of one of the poems in my Favorite Poems collection: “Things You Didn’t Put on Your Resume” by Joyce Sutphen.
I first came upon that poem many years ago, back when Hanna was in 8th grade and her mother Margi was juggling all those Mom Tasks with Hanna and her four younger siblings. The first time I read it back then, it made me smile and it brought tears to my eyes.
After coming home from Chicago, I read that poem again, and once again it made me smile and tear up. I sent it to Hanna. And now I want to share it with you.
Enjoy–and have a Kleenex handy!
Things You Didn’t Put On Your Resumé
by Joyce Sutphen
How often you got up in the middle of the night
when one of your children had a bad dream,
and sometimes you woke because you thought
you heard a cry but they were all sleeping,
so you stood in the moonlight just listening
to their breathing, and you didn’t mention
that you were an expert at putting toothpaste
on tiny toothbrushes and bending down to wiggle
the toothbrush ten times on each tooth while
you sang the words to songs from Annie, and
who would suspect that you know the fingerings
to the songs in the first four books of the Suzuki
Violin Method and that you can do the voices
of Pooh and Piglet especially well, though
your absolute favorite thing to read out loud is
Bedtime for Frances and that you picked
up your way of reading it from Glynnis Johns,
and it is, now that you think of it, rather impressive
that you read all of Narnia and all of the Ring Trilogy
(and others too many to mention here) to them
before they went to bed and on the way out to
Yellowstone, which is another thing you don’t put
on the resumé: how you took them to the ocean
and the mountains and brought them safely home