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.