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A poem for parents- Desiderata

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

My take on an old classic- Are you familiar with the poem attributed to Max Ehrman?


GO PLACIDLY amid the piles of washing and the food smushed into the kitchen floor and remember what peace there may be in the food-high silence immediately after dinner.

As far as possible, without being insincere, be on good terms with all persons who have ever volunteered to help with cleaning and/or babysitting.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly (even and especially over the fury of a frustrated toddler) and listen to your children, often and fully, even when the story seems uninteresting and the question ridiculous; they too have their story.

Avoid busy soft-play centres; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with other parents, you may become judgemental or self-critical, for always there will be better and worse parenting approaches than yours.

Enjoy your small achievements as well as your big plans (getting showered on a hectic day can feel like as much of an accomplishment as organising a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Australia). Keep interested in your own career or hobbies, however humble; they can be real possessions and reminders of your identity in the changing fortunes of family time.

Exercise caution and strive to keep your children safe, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not prevent you giving them freedom to explore their world; many persons out there will have a positive effect on your children and everywhere they will find heroes.

Be yourself. Especially do not worry if your affection for your child wanes at certain moments. But neither let them forget about the constancy and power of your love; remind them that in the face of all their upsets, tears and demands, your love is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of others who have gone through this journey, gracefully accepting well-intentioned advice, but ignoring it and following your own instincts as necessary.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you and your family in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself imagining the difficult situations your children may encounter. Many fears are born of fatigue so try not to drink too much coffee after lunchtime.

As you try to exercise compassion with your children, also be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the child you have birthed into the world; you have a right to be here and nobody expects you to be perfectly right all of the time.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt your family adventure is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with a messy house, whatever dreams of minimalism you once had.

And whatever your age, parenting style and dreams for your kids, in the noisy confusion of family life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its challenges, uncertainty and broken sleep, family is such a beautiful thing. Be cheerful even as the dishes pile up and sand gets tracked around the kitchen.

Strive to remember you will look back on these busy days as some of the happiest of your life.


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