Melissa Balmain: Being the parent . . .

                        . . . means, at family meals,
you pour and ladle while your food congeals,
then eat the Brussels sprouts the children spurned
because they’re burned,
the chicken leg with unattractive gore,
the slice of sourdough that hit the floor.
And if there’s not enough dessert for each,
you grab a peach,
as stoic as Ma Joad,
while they have brownies à la mode.

It means when there’s a spider in the john
so big it ought to have a collar on,
and you would rather opt for spidercide
or simply hide,
you have to show them how to trap the thing
inside a glass, then nonchalantly bring
it out of doors where it can leap and land
as nature planned,
before you stride back in
to find it clinging to your shin.

It means the movies, plays and TV shows
you watch are ones another person chose.
It means you have no privacy. It means
no spicy greens
or stinky cheese or fish that's on the bone.
And when at last the kids have up and flown
and you’re allowed to do just as you please,
from bugs to bries,
it means this change you thought
would help you miss them less does not.