Yesterday was just what I needed. P took over with Reuben and the house and I took the other three children to school and stayed out until it was time to collect them. I went swimming. I drank Chai Latte. I wandered slowly along footpaths and looked in shop windows. I noticed crumbling walls tatooed with tiny flowers and the way all the rooftops were different. I sat on a bench and ate avocado and olives filled with feta, and watched people going about their lives.
I opened a book in a tiny museum shop and came across the poem I am sharing with you here. As I read it my eyes filled with tears. My shoulders relaxed as the words sank into my tired brain. I know they are true, I have said them to other mothers in my own way, and yet … and yet I forget. The mind second-guesses and the world outside my front door seems to sing to such a different tune. The poem is anonymous; maybe you’ve heard it before. Maybe this is the first time you have come across it. Maybe, like me, you need to hear it again. And again, and again, and again. It takes courage to be true to our convictions, but the rewards of the investment of time we make in the lives of our own children and the children we care for will be like echoes that sound over and over. I hope you follow your heart today.
* * *
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The nappies soaked a little longer,
The odour grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall
Will likely not get cleaned at all.
The dirty streaks on those window panes
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?
I held a baby while she slept,
I held a toddler while he wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that’s true.
Unless you think that what I’ve done,
Might be important to someone
With perfect eyes and softest hair,
If that is true … I’ve done my share.