Routine, Disrupted (a poem)

If it weren’t just for the lack of pants, his disconsolate hysteria might be understandable.

It is, after all, riotously cold outside, and the snow is far too deep for naked knees.

But today’s disruption in morning routine is too tangled up in blame and shame,

and my own guilt is interpreting the towering hamper of unwashed laundry as a metaphor

for the mountain of mistakes I have surely made as a mother;

and my callous incapacity to see him as his trembling translucent self — the self without clean pants,

the self without certainty, the bared self — without legged armament for the battle ahead

to defend the honor of his young manhood on the front lines of the playground.

So I improvise — at 7:38, the zero hour — through tears and upended dresser drawers,

a cobbled consolation of pajama pants and summer shorts and unverified assurances

that It’s cool and No one will notice.

And then I am left, ears ringing in the icy slam of the front door and my motherly misgivings,

standing in the aftershock with my loads of laundry.

©Vixen Lea 2021

(This poem was originally published in Scrittura, A Place for Readers, Writers, Laughers and Dreamers on

Each new day of parenting is like sitting up in bed and get hit in the face with a shovel-full of snow.

I wrote this piece in response to a prompt from an editor of the Medium literary publication, Scrittura, asking us to “consider our relationship with routines” (you can find the original prompt here). The events described above had occurred that very morning and begged to be immortalized in verse.

Listen to this poem read by the author:

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