If you are a parent who is trying to juggle it all right now, Maria Rushe's heartfelt poem is the gentle reminder you need to go easy on yourself.
Mumpty Mumpty, up there on the wall…
You look at your babies, both now grown so tall
That their uniforms probably won’t even fit
When we finally get ourselves out of this shit.
You look at the table, the mess on the floor,
The toys that are trailing right out the hall door.
You look at the school books, still sitting in piles
You see your to-do list that still goes for miles.
You stare at the laptop, then set it aside,
For you know all the work that awaits you inside.
You fight off the constant attacks of the guilt
That now sit on your shoulders and won’t seem to quit.
You listen to questions, to snaps and to fights
You wonder how many more hours until night
When you’ll finally get your wee darlings to bed
When in dreams, you would tuck them in, kissing their heads,
Before putting your feet up and watching TV.,
But these days that simply won’t happen you see,
For once your kids finally succumb to their sleep
It’s time to start working and trying to keep
Up with zoomcalls and emails and missed calls and work,
All the things that one simply can’t do while we burp
Our baby on our knee, or are wiping a bum.
While trying and failing to work out a sum
That we possibly learned ourselves while in 3rd class
But that now we don’t understand, nor would we pass
Our son’s Irish exam or his History or sciences
And we wonder, while stuffing more socks in appliances
How much of this stuff we have learned but forget
How much of it really was needed, and yet
We feel like a failure for not being able
To answer the questions being fired from the table
Like missiles and bombs that might make us explode
And the dishwasher’s beeping to signal its load
Is all done. It needs emptied, as does the machine.
And once again, over the cooker you lean.
And speaking of empty, the fridge needs restocked
For breakfast, break, lunch and dinner are all round the clock.
While washing the dishes, we’re answering calls.
We’re hitting our deadlines and cursing our walls
That we’re all sick of seeing. We long for normality
Where work is for work and where home is for family.
Where hours are set for the parts of our lives
That are suddenly jumbled together like knives
In a drawer that’s a mess, where nothing is found,
Where as parents we can’t keep our feet on the ground.
We’re doing our best, but we’re doing too much.
We’re tired and stressed and our brains are like mush.
We’re trying to be parents and workers and teachers
To be friends to our children and support our teenagers
But stop. Take a minute and gather your thoughts.
Who says that we have to keep joining the dots?
We can’t do it all. It’s impossible really
To try to do everything we once did so easily.
And who is it really that’s making these rules
That we all have to manage to mix work and school?
We can’t do it all. It can fall asunder
We’re breaking ourselves with the pressure we’re under.
Our children need school, of that there’s no doubt
And they’ll get back there soon and with glee we’ll all shout.
There’s light at the end of this tunnel, you’ll see.
And soon, all of this will be just memories,
But now, in the meantime, go easy on you.
And remember there’s only so much you can do.