What I want.

I can’t quite tell for sure

what is wrong.

But you are not you.

You collapse on the couch.

An unhappy lump.

I stroke your hair and your little boy back.

You shiver in your sleep

and now I know

why you have been so…


What I want is to hold you.

But your baby sister wants Mama.

Your baby sister wants chapstick.

Your baby sister wants markers




anything.  She wants anything other than

to let me sit

and be with you.

And your big brother needs help with his spelling.

And supper…I have to make supper.



Smears and spills and sticky stuff.

And all I want is to sit down

and pull you onto my lap

and kiss your forehead

and wrap my arms around you

until you feel better.

What I want is to hold you

but I can only manage a glance your way as you wake.

You are the most beautiful thing

and the most pathetic

and even now you want to help me.

Help me empty the dishwasher.

Help me set the table.

Help me get Ella in her seat.


You make me want to be so much better.

Tonight I watched you 


and sadness filled me for what I couldn’t give you today.

I fail daily

to be the mother you deserve.

That all of you deserve.

I don’t know how to do this better.

But tomorrow I will try


What I want.

9 thoughts on “What I want.

  1. Poor Henry – I hope he is feeling better!

    And Kristen, you don’t fail daily – because daily you work at it, you put in all your effort, and you love your babies with all of your heart – and they know and feel it.

  2. I have a soft spot in my heart for dear Henry. The things I read about him. I remember the one about him with the skinned knees, so happy, so sweet. I’m saddened to hear he is ill. I am thinking of him.

  3. Kelly says:

    Well… You are definitely doing something right because you have four of the happiest and nicest kids I’ve ever met! Sorry Henry’s not feeling well, I hope he feels better soon. Poor fella.

  4. This brought tears to my eyes. This is only my first time stopping by, but it’s clear that you are a very good mom. The poetry of your words wouldn’t flow without the love and care you have for your family.

    Beautiful post.

  5. How I understand this — and you have 4 little ones! So many things a mama wants to do, and the list keeps growing, like we are running up a hill made of sand. But all your motion harnesses the energy of love – it all counts. What we get done, what we tow around on our mental to do list, yearning to finish it everyday. Step back and look at your lovely nest. All is well. Love is in the air of your home, in every nook and crevice, on every feverish forehead. As Good Buddy would say, “you’re a good mama.”


  6. how i can feel you on this. but, i hope we’re not failing because we’re trying and aware and loving and improving and cherishing. definitely not failing.

  7. Erika says:

    Ahhh. You have a way of writing exactly what is in my heart…I’m so glad there is a “you” in this world.

    The color pictures are wonderful…I love seeing that gorgeous red hair.

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