Parenting is…

… 60% laundry, 10% a niggling feeling that you should be doing laundry. It’s waking up after two hours of sleep ready to get into the day or waking up after six hours wondering how you’re going to zombie yourself through the morning routine. It’s somehow managing to get through regardless. 

Parenting is laughing along with your three year old’s shenanigans – pyjama top half off or feet kicking away the socks you’re trying to help put on until it’s suddenly just not funny come on now we have to go. It’s a tiny hand in yours as you walk around the block marvelling at the bees in the weeds or a small piece of rubbish that sparkles in the sunlight. It’s that same little hand breaking free from you to fix a slouching sock when you’re in the middle of crossing a road. 

Parenting is back pain. Sometimes from lifting and rocking and patting and shooshing and jiggling, sometimes from being climbed on like a horse or scaled like a mountain or just from waking up huddled and scrunched. 

Parenting is a small collection of rocks at the bottom of a school bag, a handful of leaves carried faithfully then discreetly discarded, it’s a pocket full of things you’ve picked up off the bedroom floor intending to put in the bin at some point. It’s an assortment of sticks around the house that look like letters or dinosaur bones.

Parenting is finding a moment to go to the loo and on the way clearing dishes from the table, while I’m here I’d better sweep those crumbs up, take that discarded sock to the laundry – should I be doing laundry today? Checking the weather on your phone and reading three new messages before remembering you really need to pee as someone calls you to their own urgency. 

Parenting is a series of urgencies.

Parenting is a pattern of rushing chaos followed by eery calm. Moments of never having enough time interspersed with moments when everyone is finally asleep and you’re not sure what to do with yourself. Parenting is sometimes just not knowing what to do with yourself when you’re finally and briefly alone.

Parenting is calling your own parents to describe the quirks and frustrations of the stage you’re enduring – the explosions of emotion, refusals of certain foods, usually green – and being told I remember it well, unable to decipher the tone as wistful, empathetic, regretful or… vengeful?

Parenting is simultaneously looking forward to the next stage while scrolling through google’s remember this day? photos whispering to yourself, yes! How was that three years ago? or no, no, no, I don’t remember that day at all. It’s an exercise in letting go, farewelling each phase of the small person as they change before your eyes the way the sun sets just slowly enough to make the clouds pink around the edges, both brighter and darker at the same time. 

Parenting is watching a sunset and knowing you still have a whole night of maybe sleeping, maybe waking to get through before it will rise again. Perhaps the morning will be pink too or foggy with condensation and sleep deprivation, or perhaps the sun will rise above the clouds and stream down like divinity on the clothes line and tomorrow will in fact be an excellent day for laundry.


From the too early to ask but wanting to know
to the shared wanting to the trying to the monthly red stain no.

From the blood tests and food shifts
to the caffeine withdrawal and supplements

from the trying some more to the relief and amazement
to the dancing in the living room joy.

From the tired to the queasy to the secret until 
safe to tell for the congratulations.

From the swelling to the scans the nervous to the healthy
other parents’ stories from the horror to the perfect.

From the haemorrhoids that passed to the ones that bled
through maternity dress on the morning train. 

From the slow slow walk to the tired tired tired
from the phone scroll waiting to the waters breaking

from the induction to the horse breath waves 
of squeeze and release to the remember your horse breath

the pushing and crying the holding and feeding
from the crying and the crying and crying.

From the leaking to the feeding the pooping the leaking
the waking and waking to the crying some more.

From the pain to the fever hot red rocks of infection
to the antibiotics to the happening again.

From the lockdowns the masks to the walks but not sitting
the curfews the radius the zooming the slowing down.

From the packing and moving to the solving and solving 
from the sickness to the steps to new words and daycare.

From the washing to the laundry the soaking and drying 
to the nappies the laundry the food on the floor.

From the potty to the wetting the frustration the refusing
from the anxiety to the getting it but the anxiety still there.

From the wanting only mummy to the not wanting mummy 
from the going back to work to the never having time.

From the wanting again to the saying it out loud
from the positive test to the covid positive test

from the scans to the appointments, the explaining
the announcement to the excitement

the exhaustion at the thought 
of the crying the waking the leaking ahead.

From the nausea to the magnesium to the virus again
to the tired the tired the tired…

From the meltdowns to the accidents the shouting and biting
too tired for games too big now to hide build forts carry run.

From the wait wait wait to the sudden gut punch and gush
from the rush to the shout to the boy.

From the coming home to the blurry
to the cuddles and recovery.

From the sweetness to the adjustment the struggling to adjust
from the meltdowns to the sleep

Oh the sleep.

From the feeding to the social not wanting to miss this time
from the things being open to the please keep being open.

From the trips to the flights the long long haul
from the family to the home again to the growing and growing.

From the jet lag to the waking winter setting in 
from the sleep coming back the good sleeper is back.

From the real estate agents to the doctors
to being blindsided by news

from this thing to the next thing and the next carry on. 


I’ve glued my daughter’s hair clips back together
pink fabric ripped, but salvageable and
a small blue heart from my own broken earrings.

I could ride my bike to the mall right now 
buy them ten times over, buy the brightest ones
the most expensive ones, ones that will survive 

small fingers and curiosity. They’ve lasted less than two months 
the trip to Kmart her first time using a public toilet, everything 
an adventure after months of lockdown, everything an adventure 

when you’re not-quite two. I could buy her new hair clips 
every day, but I won’t because one bedtime meltdown
she’d been moved away from the cat, who

puts up with more than he should, though loved
puts up with so much she thinks his tail is fair game.
She’s still learning not to squeeze so hard. I took her 

to her room, wiped streaks of tears sat opposite,
a pale green swaddle from newborn days draped
over her head and mine as she calmed, held 

my face with the gentleness I know she has
gentleness I hope for her, but hope will not be her undoing
as it so often has felt like mine…

Thank you for my joy, Mummy I checked I’d understood, Your joy?
Yes. Thank you for my joy. Thank you for dinner, Mummy.
hands still gentle, the same hands that dissected hair clips

beat fists on the ground, made the cat flinch (but never leave, 
I really feel he should sometimes just leave)
Thank you for my sparkly hair clips from Kmart, Mummy.

So I’ve glued them back together, adding a piece 
of me, knowing we’ll break and renew each other
twenty more times before morning.

March 20th

The world is told to self-isolate just

as I might feel like mingling with the world again

I get Friday mornings off to shower, cut my nails

drink tea while it’s still hot. Rainbows in the living room

I walk around the block


collect two fallen frangipani flowers

an autumn garden inconsistency. Summer

a blur of pregnancy birth baby

two months measured out in feeds and naps

tears, each week I walk this walk a little quicker


each week things get better

before they get hard again, but mostly

there are more good days than tricky days

and never do I call them bad days.

One of my flowers blows to the ground


face-plants grass, stem to the sky

the other I hold as I write, bringing it to my nose

with each pause of the pen, sun-warmed

black-clad body, cheap kmart shapewear

holds my weakened core together


I swing my briefly baby-free arms about

the scent of good days and tricky days ahead.