Note: I wrote this when my fifth child was an infant, and I came across it the other day. Mothers of large families often get criticism, and some people wonder how you spread your love among a number of children. An elderly neighbour once told me ‘babies always bring love with them’. Your children will not remember how hard you cleaned the floors or how many times you tidied the toys, but they will carry your love forever.
The dishes are piling up in the sink
and my son is annoying the cat,
The state of my bathroom I hardly dare think
and nothing much new in all that.
For weeks I’ve been tardy with housework;
no denying it, not even maybe
I’m happily, blissfully, wonderfully taken
up with enjoying my baby.
Tomorrow will do for the washing
The cobwebs will wait til next year
Bother the muddle, I just want to cuddle
For he grows ever faster, I fear.
I have older ones, sure, and I love them
I have been through all this before –
But now that I know what I’m doing,
I find I’m enjoying it more.
There’s an elephant under the ironing
A nose to be wiped at my knee,
As one not-so-tall draws a frieze on my wall
I try to plan something for tea.
Who cares about dustpans and dinners,
Blue loos, matching shoes and the rest?
My sweet love affair with my infant
Is causing the most interest.
I am sure when I get to my heaven
Dust and odd socks won’t lie round in heaps
And my angel will ask the Father of Time
To give me a baby for keeps!
Carmel O’Brien 1982
To those who care …
If you can stay with a troubled soul
And hold a hand or dry a tear,
And help someone regain control
And be respectful and sincere …
If you can hear their pain and fear
And try to understand it, too
Not delegating kindness here
But boldly say “I am with you”.
If you flag love in a greedy world
Exposing what it tries to hide,
A gentle hand or word unfurled
Seeking contact with those most denied.
We owe the world to folk like you
Who lift our spirits and light up hope;
And gift us faith in ourselves anew
Without which none of us would cope.
In service are rewards indeed
But truth is we take turns to fall,
In the eyes and hearts of those in need
Is a mirror image of us all.
The Seven Secrets of Relaxed and Happy Parenting
1. Choose Your Partner Carefully The best way to ensure trouble free parenting is to be really, really careful when choosing your partner. Most people who find parenting relaxing already know this, and they are often married to a woman. If you are already pregnant, it may be too late and you will have to make do as best you can.
2. Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Education Start now to memorize useful information that will make parenting easier for you. Learn as much as you can about spiders, dinosaurs, snails, fairies, drum kits, dress-ups, finger-paint and stain removal.
3. Plan Ahead Of course, if you could really do this well, you would probably not have children. However, it is a fact that children do best in a consistent and predictable environment, with an even-tempered parent. Even slight changes can be unsettling. Where possible, avoid social outings, siblings, pets, supermarkets, carpet, play dough, stairs, renovating and, above all anything to do with camping. In fact, if there is anything significant you want to do in the next 20 years, make sure to get it done before starting a family.
4. Shop Wisely Most of your money from now on will be spent on things that are eaten, broken, lost, grown out of, fought over, scribbled on, despised, thrown up or thrown out of car windows at high speed. Most of all, remember that the wisest way to shop is alone.
5. Get Plenty of Rest When you have a new baby, try to have at least two half-hour naps during the day when your baby is asleep. After all, you won’t be sleeping at night. With practice, you will find that you can fall fast asleep during TV shows, movies, church services, visits from relatives and even consensual sex.
6. Have Fun and Enjoy Parenting Small daily disasters are half the fun of parenting. In time you, too, will be laughing about getting wee’d on, hosed down, tripped up, embarrassed, disillusioned, sworn at and having your eye poked out by the magic wand of a two year old that you are wrestling at full speed into a shopping centre toilet cubicle.
7. Seek Help When You Need It Some older parents have read too many books or forgotten what parenting a young child really feels like. If you need support, seek out someone with twins!
Listen to Carmel recite her poem on ABC Radio, Mornings with Jon Faine, 11 July 2018
When I say I am afraid of men who mean me harm,
You tell me not to make a fuss, there’s no need for alarm;
That not all men are like that, not to stress my pretty head
Or talk about those other men; just look at you instead.
But what of women suffering, a slap, a punch, a shove,
A life of menacing oppression from a man they love.
Not all men are sexist, not all men disrespect
Not all men are the man who harms what he should protect
Not all men are vicious, not all men are brutes
Not all men are the man who punches, rapes and shoots.
Not all men use violence, most are courteous and kind
But when I talk of toxic men the others feel maligned.
So I ask you to consider when you jump in to defend
How did speaking up for women become slandering of men?
Why is it when I voice my fears you first defend your brothers
Instead of listening to your sisters, mothers or your lovers?
I need you to hear my voice and listen to my fears
But you keep on shouting louder and my voice just disappears.
Not all men will listen, not all men understand
You tell me you are ‘not all men’, a verbal sleight of hand.
I can look at you and love you, and yet still be afraid
While so much deadly violence still seems to be man-made
Do not usurp my story, don’t tell me what to do,
This is not about all men, don’t make it about you.
Do not muffle my singing, I need to sing my song;
Don’t place on me your curfew, I have done nothing wrong.
I will persist in riding waves although there may be sharks, and
Despite the evil some men do, I will walk in parks.
Morning, noon or sunset, or in the dark of night;
I will keep on walking, I have a perfect right.
I will enjoy the starry sky, I do not fear the dark;
Despite the evil some men do, I will walk in the park.
Do not blame my timing, my looks, my age, my size.
The way I wear my hair, the colour of my eyes.
Don’t bind me with the legacy of ten thousand patriarchs,
Curb the deeds of evil men so I can walk in parks.