Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.

Slow-Motion Learning: Day 9 of the April Poetry Challenge


I had originally thought to title this poem “Slow-Motion Parenting” but it evolved into more than that. On the other hand, “learning” is a wonderful summary of the parenting experience, is it not?


Slow-Motion Learning


That moment

when you realize you are NOT going to make it through bedtime.

The children move around you like squealing blurs,

words tumbling out too fast for your foggy brain to comprehend,

although the petulant tone is clear – there is whining involved.

And you.




It’s not that you don’t love them.

I know this.

I know that your exhausted limbs would leap,

and punch,

and claw,

and viciously defend,

if some dangerous intruder suddenly appeared,

to threaten them with harm more immediate

than the tooth decay you warn will come if they don’t





But when the danger is rather more camouflaged,

benign neglect,

your inattention…

Not such a threat, really.

And you are




Much, much too tired to respond with any speed

to urgent, so-called needs.


The only speed you are capable of is


The frustrated words of rebuke leap from your tongue,

like burning sparks bursting from the fire

that has consumed all your last stores of energy,

leaving only a charcoal version of your self,

an effigy,

late victim of the parenting wars.


Until it’s finally done –

teeth brushed,

stories read,

nightlight illuminated,

prayers (grudgingly) said,

and the open door is calling you out of the child-sized bed,

offering you the blissful release of solitude.


Until the darkness ushers forth the tearful story,

the friend who was mean,

the sense of rejection,

the frustration that he didn’t get his way.

And you learn again the awesome power of child tears,

like those of the phoenix,

restoring your charred heart to wholeness,

to the capacity to care, and nurture, and show love.


You almost cannot recognize the soft, calm voice,

your own,

that calls you back into this clear, and present moment.

It speaks of patience,

and forgiveness.

“Be quick to listen,

slow to anger.”


And you know you need this lesson most of all.



When you are so, so tired.

Author: Serena Gideon Rice

In early 2011 my family moved our home, temporarily, from New Jersey to Milan, Italy. In the process I quit what had been my dream job conducting policy-directed social science research, to focus on my other dream job, raising our two young children. The three-year adventure was exciting, exhausting, disorienting, fulfilling, and countless other contradictions. It also birthed in me a desire to share my reflections on life's joys and challenges with anyone who cares to reflect with me. Now that we have returned to the US I'm finding that the new perspective I gained in Europe has come with me, and gives me a whole new way of interacting with my home. There's still so much to learn and share! I hope you'll share the journey, and add your own lessons to my daily education.

2 thoughts on “Slow-Motion Learning: Day 9 of the April Poetry Challenge

  1. Serena~ I really liked this. So true!

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