How I found my kids again



Steph Turner, I think, is the author of the above poem, and she has a Facebook page called My Children Mean Everything to Me. This is the best I could come up with after a lot of googling and I am sincerely sorry if I’ve got it wrong. The poem has gone viral and meme versions of it such as the above are all over the internet so, who knows.

It has probably been around for years, but it came across my radar after a particularly hard weekend during which the twins painted a room in poo. Again. This time, it was their bedroom. Walls. Floor. Curtains. Beds. Bedsheets. Teddies. Ground in between floor board cracks. In the tracks for the sliding closet doors. Clothes in the closet. Behind the door. Under the bed. And of course, all over themselves. This time, I smacked. I smacked and I put their stinky, pooey, naked little butts in the bathtub. This was purely for containment. There was no water in it. I wasn’t going to let them enjoy a moment’s fun having a bath, they could sit there naked and stinky until I was good and ready to deal with them. I looked at them with that withering death stare (teachers and mothers know the one) and said in my lowest, angriest voice, don’t you move. My husband was out helping a friend. In tears, and alone, I crawled on my hands and knees and cleaned up shit for an hour. I threw everything washable into garbage bags. Every now and then I would look at the guilty culprits in the bathtub and repeat my warning. Do. Not. Move. After cleaning the room, I switched the shower head to ‘jet’ and hosed the twins down with a sense of mild satisfaction as they screamed with indignation.

My husband arrived home and I walked out. It was our seventh rainy weekend in a row and we had no dryer. I had two garbage bags full of shit covered laundry that would  not wait for a sunny day. I felt bad for leaving him, but I really had to get out of the house. I thought about driving down the highway and not coming back. I really did. Close to three hours (and $17) at the laundromat, and one large coffee by the river later, and I was almost able to form sentences again. I went home. I didn’t speak to the twins that night. Immature I know, I am supposed to be the adult.

There is something about these big moments of emotional loss of one’s mind that really clears your head. I was dipping back down to baseline when I saw this poem. I tried to read it out to my husband and cried like a crazy person. It was a plea, straight from my little guys to me, to please, please, try to understand us. Please don’t give up on us mummy, and we’re sorry that we’re so not there yet. I heard them saying straight to my heart how much they just need me to hang in there, love them without stopping and to never ever drive away and not come back.

The whole thing was a shock that resulted in a new connection with the littleness of them. A new love of that littleness and a new effort to just look at the little faces and remember that yes, one day, they won’t be this small. That day will be good in many ways, but they also may not cuddle as tight or as often, they may not hold my hand as we walk and they may not shower my face with a thousand kisses a day. They won’t redecorate in poo, but they may not want me snuggling in close at bedtime. They’ll eat their food not wear it, but they may have secrets they won’t share with me. Their incessant chatter may be replaced with teenage male grunting. And it’s OK, all of it is OK.

We talked about this and other parenting wake up calls this week on ABC612, listen here.



4 responses »

  1. No kidding! Nobody will understand untill you experienced it. Thanks for the article. It feels great that I have other mom to relate too. Too embarrassed to share the story with my childless friends. I cried, I sobbed while scrubbing those poop covered floors, doors, cribs and god knows, what else. I wanted to just pour the whole Clorox onto everything but I stopped myself!! Don’t want to their favorite teddy bears in mixed colors.

    I have a great respect on you that you can remained calm. I raised my voice. Yes, I did. I raise my voice when I said “do not move” while I put them in the tub. I put most of my anger into scrubbing the floors. It was a horrible and really depressing morning.

  2. Hey there, let me say this…I was NOT calm! But thanks for the lovely comment 🙂 You raised your voice you say? I shouted, I smacked, I death stared. It’s HORRIBLE. Nobody should have to clean up a room full of poo. React however feels natural I say, and if shouting is involved, make sure it’s loud 🙂 I figure my revenge will come when they bring their first girlfriends home and I sit them down and say, ‘now, let me tell you about this thing they used to do as toddlers…’ they will live to regret the day!

  3. I was a first time listener & a newbie to ABC612 when I caught this article. I heard you choking up as you read the poem in air but couldn’t find your blog later that day to comment.
    I got my wake up call listening to you read that poem. I am a good mum. My boys are nutritiously fed, warmly clothed, securely housed & adoringly loved BUT…….. I am not superwoman & I lose my cool & yell my head off & then feel guilty & sick to my stomach.
    Your reading of that poem brought me back to that awareness of the present moment & living each moment, not wishing them away. Your words.
    THANKYOU for putting it out there!

  4. Hi Dee, Thanks for your comment. I am so glad you found some encouragement and inspiration in that poem (not written by me). I too flog myself with guilt when I fail, which is often. All we can do is our best. Hope you are having a great day today!

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