A Poem for My Son

For many years now, I have been writing poetry as a way to express difficult emotions that stem from traumatic events in my life. I write for myself, as the content is extremely personal. I write from the depths of my soul and don’t censor or edit my poetry.

It scares me to share my poetry, so all of my poems have remained private. I have made the decision though to challenge myself and publish one of my poems. They tell the story of my life and the issues that I have struggled with. I am not ashamed of the strength of my emotions.

I wrote this poem for my 17 year old son. He has stood by my side through my divorce, custody battle, poverty, cancer and episodes of major depression. He is compassionate and kind and inspires me to be a better version of myself.

A few weeks ago, I was deeply depressed and could not get out of bed. For days, I cried and slept for hours. In the middle my depressive episode, I took out my journal and started writing. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to publish it, so I read it to my son first. With tears streaming down his face, he said that my words touched his heart and he was proud of me. My decision was made, I would share my poetry for him.

The Big Top

She paddled upstream, barely keeping her head above the water. The current was strong and she had been swimming upstream for what seemed like hours. She was tired and her arms were getting heavy. Disoriented and confused, she started swimming in circles and forgot where she was headed. Determined not to give up, she called out for help. No answer came to guide her to safety.

The current began dragging her further and further out to sea. Gulping mouthfuls of water, she could feel her lungs burning. She could hear the voices in her head telling her to stop fighting…to just give in. Just then, she heard a faint sound. Someone was calling for her. “Mom, I can see you!” the voice shouted.  “Mom don’t give up. I’m here! Please swim to me .” It was her son, and he needed her.

With a surge of strength she didn’t know she had, she swam in the direction of her son’s voice. She was more determined than ever that she would not let the sea take her. Finally she saw him and he held out his hand. She reached for him and as soon as their hands met, she went limp. There was nothing left inside her. But, her son was a strong man and refused to let her drown.

He lifted her out of the water and into the boat. She fell into his arms sobbing as he wrapped a towel around her shivering body. As the exhaustion hit her, she rested her head on his broad shoulder. He leaned against her and whispered, “Mom don’t forget our dream. I’m going to join the circus and tour the world…you promised to come with me.” And with that, she drifted off to sleep to the image of the bright lights of the big top.    


I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years working in Community mental Health. I currently Supervise the Behavioral Health Benefit for an insurance company. I speak publicly on issues that affect mental health in the workplace.


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