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
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
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
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.
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,
You, hunkering down,
Letting it go,
Giving it up for the night,
You, hands shaking, mind racing,
Sleep eluding you --
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