Your daughter is not
A feather in your cap.
Even if you read to her
In French every day
Of her shiny toddlerhood.
Drove her to ballet,
Watched her pink-bowed ponytail
Bob. Pirouette. And plié.
Fed her thrice-washed organic apples,
Laundered her clothes lovingly
In homemade, three-ingredient detergent.
She is not a star in your crown.
Even if you never missed a
Soccer game or tennis match, cheering
In an embroidered Mom shirt for
Your girl as she won.
Hosted a midnight prom breakfast
Featuring your grandmother’s fine china
And Welch’s sparkling grape juice.
Straightened her honor cords
On graduation day. Curled her hair.
Cheered her name.
Nor is your daughter an albatross
Around your neck.
Even if she flunks out of college–
Cannot get hired at Ruby Tuesday
Or even TJ Maxx.
Quits wearing white dresses
With three-finger wide, modest straps.
Refuses to sit on your pew at church,
Clouding your illusive (elusive?) family portrait
As she pierces and tattoos and dyes pink.
Your daughter is not a pair of cement shoes.
Even if she is pregnant. And knew better.
Having sat through frank talks.
And seen the ninety-three foster children
Parade their battered lives through her childhood home.
Though the waves crash and crash and crash again
And the fish are nibbling, you’re sure, at your heart,
She is not cement shoes, dead weight, dross.
And the embroidered Mom shirt you once wore
Is meaningless if you cannot still cheer her name.