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  • Writer's pictureCaitie

In Praise of the Tired Parent

You, sitting on the kitchen floor,

Your sobbing child’s head in your lap,

I praise you.

I praise you, on your hands and knees,

Scrubbing glue off of the carpet,

Slime off of the counter,

Spit off of the floor,

washing mud out of your hair.


Who attempts the impossible:

Going to the bathroom

On your own

Only to be interrupted


By a blood-curdling scream.


Holding your child’s hand,

As you walk them into school.

You, red-faced, tears streaming,

Carrying your child out of school

For the last time.


At the kitchen table

With a lesson plan,

You, at the table

With no plan.

You, who has strategically placed yourself

In a chair

Between two children playing


To intervene

Before true harm is caused


Still working your job,

And loving it,

Or hating it,

You who left it.

You, who moved across the country,

Started everything new.

You, who arrived somewhere on time.

You, who arrived thirty minutes late.

You, who called and cancelled,

You, who crumpled up the invitation upon its reception.


Planning a vacation

You who never dares to even dream

Of a vacation.


Filling out the thousandth

Intake form,

You reading

The sterile


You, who were ambivalent about becoming a parent in the first place,

You, who wanted it so badly

You, who wanted more

You, who had more


Who lost

You, who decided it was time to stop.

You, who imagined it would be so different than this.

You, a grandparent, doing the work of a parent.


Who is



Still seeing the humor,


You, taking a deep breath,

You, who can barely breathe.

You, making dinner -- a hopeful, generous feat...

You, nourishing your child with straws, tubes, bottles, pouches, cans, packages

You, with a glass of wine,

You, blowing smoke out of the bathroom window,

You, making it work with your partner against all the odds,

You, who can no longer make it work,

YOU, doing it on your own!

You, triumphantly walking out of your child’s bedroom -- bedtime accomplished!

You, still in there, comforting a child

In the middle of the night.


Reading, listening, watching, learning,


Reaching out,

You, hunkering down,

Tuning in

You, there,


Letting it go,

Giving it up for the night,

You, hands shaking, mind racing,

Heart pounding,

Sleep eluding you --

-- You!


Waking up,

Sitting up,

Standing up,

Getting dressed,

Taking on another day --

I praise you

I honor you

I see you, hold you in my heart,

Send you strength,

Feel stronger because of you

I praise you,





*In the style of “You Are Who I Love”

By Aracelis Girmay

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Bailey Hoffner
Bailey Hoffner
Sep 10, 2021

Crying at the kitchen table after tonight’s meltdown, because I came here needing exactly this, and it was right here waiting. So grateful to have found this site.


Lauren Locke
Lauren Locke
May 03, 2021

I'm in awe of this poem, this understanding, this kindness.

L. Locke

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