Words are powerful. Words make a difference.

They can create and destroy.  They can open doors and close doors.

Words can create illusion or magic, love or destruction … All those things.

~ R.M. Engelhardt

My mother was a poet. She wrote both rhyme and serious poetry from a very early age—some of which she was able to sell during the days before she married my daddy. But Daddy put a stop to all that when he commented, “Edgar Allen Poe wrote poetry. Do you want to end up like him?”

One year, during a time when our family was struggling to pay for farm land and a house, my mother had no money to buy me a birthday gift, so she wrote a poem and handed it to me early that day. Penned on a piece of white paper, she had written:

When I was a little girl of eleven,
I got up each morning at seven.
I helped to do the dirty dishes,
And while I worked I made my wishes.

Once I wished for a baby brother;
He came and then came another.


…and that is all I remember…

What happened? Why is the memory of that poem gone from me? Flash back to the farmhouse when I was at home with my parents and three brothers. The eldest brother was four years older than I and quite the precocious firstborn. I was a normal second child, but also a struggling overachiever, who dared not let her guard down for fear of being thought inferior.  I constantly battled a spelling disability.  Oh, I made good grades—even got 100% on every spelling test, but spelling did not come naturally with me. I was aware of my deficiencies, and always struggled to do better. Now that said, what does all that have to do with the poem?

A line or two after the lines I remember, my mother had spelled the word night as nite (poetic license I did not understand). I caught it and gleefully pronounced, “You have a misspelled word there.”

She snatched the paper from me and I never saw it again. I was the ungrateful child who got no present that year because my harsh words had stabbed my mother’s heart—words similar to those my daddy spoke early in their marriage. Obviously I did not have a poet’s heart as she had dreamed I might.   I was never to be the beneficiary of her poetry again. One might say that was harsh punishment. It was harsh but today my heart aches for my error. However, there are rebukes I take from this hard lesson.

Perhaps there could be more lessons learned by this event.

  1. I needed to learn to think before I spoke. In Proverbs 18:13, Solomon says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”
  2. I was a foolish child who did not show honor to my mother (Eph. 6:2-3).
  3. I was indeed a foolish child to insult my own mother the way I did, but I should have had the blessing of forgiveness when I said I was sorry (Luke 6:37Mark 11:26Matt 6:15).
  4. Perhaps my mother was a bit foolish too.  Have I also been foolish with my own children?  No doubt they could remind me.

WordPress bloggers were invited to write a post — in verse or in prose — inspired by poetry.

10 thoughts on “LIFE’S HARSH LESSONS

  1. Wow. I really like her poem. What a precious gift. Sounds like she had some issues (not judging) – meaning, struggles, like unresolved wounds from her own past out of which she responded like that to you.



    1. Life was harsh for her. One day I will dare to write about how she grew up and about her mother too. They might remind you of your own mother.


      1. “Life was harsh for her.” I’m not surprised, from her response to your comment on the poem. By the way, I was distracted by the lovely poem but had meant to say your site’s lookin’ sharp!!


        1. The blog’s appearance was a change that needed to be made. I never could find a theme that allowed for multiple columns (like yours) without making the print so small I could not see it. Since I am not a photographer nor an artist, I really would like to find a way to minimize the photos I have been using. Do they bother you as a reader?


          1. Your header shot is too big. I actually don’t know how to crop. My husband or tech friend does that when needed (while I’m tackling the dishes!). I don’t change the header often. Ask Support. =)


          2. I have cut every photo down to 400 pixels on the longest side and still they show up huge. I asked tech support and they said that was how this theme worked. I may try another theme. There is more than one way to work this, I am sure. Thanks so much for taking time to have a look and comment.


  2. How powerful are our words, and how good it is to be reminded to use them wisely! (Eph 4:29, Jas 3:5, Rom 14:19, etc.) Too often we discount (despise) others, not realizing how hurtful and destructive that is until someone does it to us. Thank you for the encouragement to take note of those lessons in life, like this one, that remind us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think!


    1. There are so many more things I would like to share with the younger mothers–hard lessons I have learned in life, but earlier, I wanted to be the perfect mother, not admitting I had any faults. Opening up to share these thoughts has been painful, but cleansing.


  3. I did not mean for this to be a condemnation of my mother. No doubt her reaction was quite normal when one thinks of how much my comment hurt her.


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