Home > Family, Health, Learning, Love, Parenting, Personal > I Will Teach Him to Roar

I Will Teach Him to Roar

Our son’s words
startled us, warning that
there is much we don’t know
about his life when we
are not there
to witness it.

we researched
why he might say such things;
huddled with our family;
planned conversations;
asked questions–
so, so many

Still, unsure,
we visited his doctor,
who watched, listened,
and talked openly, touching
a hand to her heart when I told her
that, having lived abuse, I remain
sensitive to its possibility, even
knowing other possibilities

My mom,
abused and
an abuser herself,
had many faults; and yet,
when I think of her, what I
recall is her ferocious advocacy
on behalf of her children.

She dreamed
of a better life for
each of her children,
and better lives still for
each of their children.

Remembering her,
I know I cannot protect
my son from all the hurts
life will cast upon him.

But I also know,
Remembering my mom,
I will take every step I must,
away or toward.

I will ask every
potentially embarrassing question,
and risk alienation.

I will roar.
I will teach him to roar,
when roaring is needed.

I cannot protect him from everything,
but I can try, acting, roaring,
within my power to prevent
avoidable hurts.

And when I cannot protect him,
I will make sure he knows
that breaks don’t mean
we are broken; that
hurts don’t mean
we are

I am my mother’s daughter,
and my son will know
my mom’s love,
and ferocity,
in addition to my own;
knowing me not only
for how loud I roar, but
for how wholly I love


  1. May 31, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    From your title, I guessed the blog title showing in the email subject line was you. What a lucky little boy to have you in his corner, roaring for him until he masters his own roar and the wisdom to know when to use it. The love will always come through.

    • June 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      I am so uplifted by your comment! Thank you. I know it’s the love that comes through for me all these years later, and I have every reason to believe it will be the same for my little one. I sure will give it my all.

  2. May 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Your love for your son shines brightly through each and every one of your posts. I am certain that he DOES know just how much he is loved.
    And yes, he will get hurt at some stage, but from you he will learn resilence and, as you so wisely say, that he is wounded but not a wound. Lessons that some of us didn’t learn until much, much later.

    • June 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      He woke up just as I started typing this and shouted, “Mom?” I love being the first thing he thinks of upon awakening. Even more than that, I love the thought of teaching him resilience. That word resonates with me. I’ve kept trying to find the right word for my mom’s biggest lesson to me and I think that’s it: resilience. Thank you not only for that word, but for all your moving words. ♥

  3. June 1, 2013 at 4:47 am

    Like I have said so many times before, the words do not flow from me easily as I see they do with you. I can only hope I am as awesome of a mom to my 2 as you arw to Lil D. Dark Moon Rises! 🙂

    • June 2, 2013 at 4:27 am

      However they flow from you, I am delighted when they do! I still can’t tell you how much I love your reference to me as “Dark Moon.” It brings these little bursts of youth back, and such a sense of strength and hope. I am glad to know you’re out there filling your two little ones with like sense of possibility and joy. ♥

  4. June 1, 2013 at 5:02 am

    I hardly know what to say. You will be his teacher, yes. But get ready to be amazed by how much you are about to learn from him. He will become the greatest teacher you’ve ever had. 🙂

    • June 2, 2013 at 4:29 am

      Already I can’t believe how much a three-year-old can teach! Some of the lessons have been sad (“He’s right; I was naughty”) but others have been full of joy. I don’t want to stop seeing the good in little moments, which means I’m grateful to have him here reminding me.

      I can’t wait to see what the years ahead bring, even when they do bring the teen years with them!

  5. June 1, 2013 at 11:59 am

    As you always do, you stun me with the clarity of your vision and the beauty of your love. Love for you mother and your child are a ribbon tying the generations together. You are both fortunate in each other.

  6. June 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Wonderfully written, with an intensity that’s both amazing and fully expected. May his roar be so powerful as to never be needed!

  7. June 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Amusingly, little boys do LOVE TO ROAR! In fact, roar might have been Theo’s first word… ((cough)) … Beautiful poem and yes!

    • June 2, 2013 at 4:33 am

      Anthony asked if I was able to find a picture of Li’l D roaring. He remembers a few, which means that, although I don’t remember them, they have occurred. I will foster his keeping that roaring spirit. 🙂

  8. June 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Deb this moved me to tears. I understand that panic when something is said that makes a million horrible thoughts cross your mind. You keep asking those embarrassing questions… for him and for you. I hope your little one is okay- actually I know he is okay because he has you

    • June 2, 2013 at 4:39 am

      I can’t even begin to describe the range of horrible thoughts and emotions passing through me over this couple-day period. Fortunately, his doctor said that though his words were indeed curious, he looks in all regards like a healthy, happy little one, as well as stating she wished others would ask the questions and help curb (what she described, roughly, as) our nation’s terrible epidemic of child abuse.

      After reading Gavin de Becker’s Protecting the Gift, I’ll be asking lots and lots of questions in the years to come, questions that will be worth it even with a few inevitable ruffled feathers. There’s hardly a greater priority in my mind than advocacy for those who can’t be their own advocates.

      Thank you so much for your loving words.

  9. June 2, 2013 at 4:39 am

    I love your spirit, Deb. Your roar is parallel to my mother’s roar, although the issues were a bit different, but still necessary to address. My mother was born in Spokane and lived her first ten years in Portland when my grandmother and grandfather moved to Oregon. You westerners know how to roar graciously and effectively. My mother roared for my brother and me (her two bilingual children who moved from Mexico) when in a provincial southern school district we were labelled special ed. Ha…after she and my dad visited the school, she said “They knew we had been there.” Soon after, we were in accelerated classes, placed in honors programs and ultimately years later graduated at the top of our class and we both hold graduate degrees. She remained an advocate for bilingual children even after we had become adults. Keep roaring…your voice is effective and L’il D will always know you are in his corner. Love this post!

    • June 2, 2013 at 4:46 am

      Oh, my gosh. I love reading about your parents’ advocacy! It sounds like your parents and my mom had some of the same battles to fight. Each of us was labeled, by some teacher at some point, as potentially special ed ourselves . . . before it was determined social awkwardness was not to be confused with intellectual shortcomings. And when I say “it was determined,” naturally I mean, “my mom had colorful discussions with many education experts educating on the difference between.” I’m glad to have learned advocacy from my mom, and to have friends who reflect the same spirit, thus helping me better nurture it ongoing.

  10. June 2, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Someday your son is going to realize just how much someone up high loved him to pair him up with such a bright, powerful soul.
    You’re one of the good ones, Deborah.

  11. June 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    If not the parents then who better to advocate for our children? In all matters, uncomfortable or not. Yours and mine both know that we will forever be behind them and will step in front when necessary. A roar from a mama is often a warning; a roar from a little one more often a step, albeit tentative, towards independence. And that’s what we teach little ones, how to roar for themselves; at the beginning you hear the mama much louder, then the small voice joins in, they roar in concert for awhile and then the small one grows much surer and stonger, allowing the mama to step back and be proud.

  12. June 5, 2013 at 2:19 am

    I felt your tremendous love, hope and faith in this post. As a parent, I hope and pray to give the best to my son. For him to grow into a good, generous person with a strong heart to face the world. To avoid the mistakes that I did. Your an inspiration my friend. Your son is growing so fast. Time flies indeed.

  13. June 5, 2013 at 6:10 am

    So much love to you and your boy, Deb. ❤

  1. October 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm
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