Move Over Sylvia Plath... Mad Mom's Love Song
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April 14, 2015

Have you ever read Sylvia Plath's "Mad Girl's Love Song?" It's a beautiful poem in a particularly musical form known as a villanelle. And yes, it's a poem about love, about the dizzying feeling of being in love, about its simplicity and complexity and the way it inhabits us and renders us just a little bit mad... Well, if it's "done" right, that is.

As for the mid-century poet whose bouts of depression are nearly as legend as her exquisite verse, she has nothing on yours truly and possibly a few tens of thousands of other single mothers who, for the love of their children, find themselves inclined toward a particular money madness this time of year.

To situate my strange state of mind, first... this. Plath's opening to Mad Girl's Love Song.

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Do read the rest of the poem. It's terribly romantic and passionate in a very innocent way. But here's the gist: April is National Poetry Month. And... tax season. And... financial reporting time for our college kids -- if you happen to have offspring in the 17 to 23-year-old range.

That first mention?

I love National Poetry Month, don't you? It's one of the few times of the year I get to enjoy picking up a book of verse without feeling like a throwback to another era in a musty, bespectacled, bun-burdened librarian way. And, if I'm really lucky, I might find an open mic reading somewhere. You know. In one of the few remaining real-world bookstores you stumble upon, where the pleasure of the page remains tactile and dare I say it... sensual.

And yes, I have been known to pen the occasional line intended to capture and enrapture... a memory, a feeling, the lyricism of language itself -- not to mention a host of capricious couplets and rhapsodic rhymes.

Money Worries 2.jpgAs for tax season, don't get me started. It's been nothing but a nightmare since divorce. No matter what I do or how hard I work, it seems there's never enough money to go around.

And to make matters worse, it's FAFSA time! Yes indeed, and this is Year Seven -- yes, sports fans, you got that right - Year Seven for this little momma on filling out that government master work with a blistering review of one's financial data.

More aggravating still, it seems the PIN never works when you need it, and there's always one more piece of missing information as the deadline approaches.

Don't know what FAFSA is?

(Your kids must be little.)

It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it's used to determine eligibility for federal, state and college-specific grants, loans and work study. And unless you're rolling in dough, I'm guessing that you as a parent (like me and millions of others) will be making friends with FAFSA one of these days...

But FAFSA is nothing compared to CSS, which is a college-specific process that involves even more detailed financial reporting so that your student can be considered for college-specific funds. The school my firstborn attended did not require CSS; the school my younger son attends does.

I will now return to the subject of love and lunacy, love for our children and money, the lunacy of painstaking record keeping in order to deliver on that love any way you can -- including completing aggravating forms so your kids can get loans. 

Having just completed my taxes, I can now embark on FAFSA and CSS (due on tax day), and imagine a fainting couch on which to drop (my weary bod) and yield to (recurrent) resignation and my state of consternation, as I take up my poet's pen and craft my version of a Mad Mom's Love Song (to FAFSA), as follows:

I shut my eyes and wish to go to bed,
I lift my lids and calculators call.  
(I wish I made you up inside my head.)

DM Mom Going Loony Tunes.jpgThe stars are blinking warnings bright and red,
And arbitrary, FAFSA gallops in:
I shut my eyes and wish to go to bed.

I dreamed my typing fingers were now lead
And left me paralyzed, thus quite insane.
(I wish I made you up inside my head.)

Debt pours down and FAFSA blurs my eyes:
I'm broke! I'm tired! (I blame it on the men.)
I shut my eyes and wish to go to bed.

I owe my child these forms because I said
I'd do my best in sun or rain.
(I wish I made you up inside my head.)

I should have chosen Dr. Seuss instead;
At least the rhymes are fast and they are plain.
I shut my eyes and wish to go to bed.
(I wish I made you up inside my head.)


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