Writing - a birthday poem for Cayden

awakening being mother black poet mother and son motherhood poem poet poetry South African writer writing

For you, on your 14th birthday, my first-born son, Cayden

It was my eldest son’s birthday on the 11th February. I was moved to write as I looked through some old photos and memories (thanks Facebook). The words and sentiment came to me as I felt and thought more and more about one moment that still sits with me today. We can debate all day -  maybe it was because of mental illness symptoms, or something else. I experience depersonalization and dissociation symptoms often. A few months ago, Cayden gave me a hug. But when he came close and I felt him close, he felt unfamiliar. 

He was suddenly a stranger and it disturbed me. If he was a stranger, then was I the estranged one? 

I lost the familiarity or I became aware of what was no longer. 

I was spooked but kept it to myself.

There were other things that happened, things he has said and it further sparked the writing of this poem.

Here it goes:

I noticed how slowly I couldn’t recognize you as you, anymore.

I noticed that there was another man Becoming,

in our home these days.

And that’s how it’s always been between us:

As you grow, so do I.

As I grow, so do you.

Further, deeper


Inside, out.

You’ve come to see how we’re all heroes

Wearing masks-

And how growing up means you wake up

Just to put on your jumper suit

And save yourself

Sometimes lighting a way

For every other hero on these streets.

I hope that Gratitude and Wonder grows old with you.

We love you.

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