Faith, Family, & Focaccia

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

Poetic Purge for a Pensive Parent


Sometimes the hard of parenting is nevertheless gratifying, because you know that the effort you are investing in your children will eventually pay off. You are shaping their character. Giving them self-confidence, or empathy, or the ability to understand and respect boundaries. It is not the stuff that goes into hallmark commercials, but it is worth all of the lost sleep and grocery store temper tantrums. You are helping your children to grow.

The last few nights have NOT been that kind of hard. They have been more the “what the %@&$ am I doing wrong? My children are selfish little monsters. Why must they treat me like a prize to be won by any means necessary?” kind of hard.

The rational side of me knows that this is not the full picture. My perceptions are warped by sleep deprivation and back pain and an overdose of that delirium-inducing cocktail made from equal parts whining and sibling squabbles. Things are not nearly as bad as I feel.

The rational side of me also knows, however, that every other parent out there with more than one child has had nights like this. And so, I offer my poetic purge of all the frustration as a form of public service.

Sister…Brother… we have all been there. You are not alone.

What kind of love…


I do not want to be loved like a commodity,

whose apparent scarcity invokes incessant bidding,

where market share is based on skill at whining,

and wins are computed by monopolizing bedtime attention.

I do not want to be loved like a shrinking pie,

trying to divide myself in equal shares,

while they squabble over crumbling capacity,

and I disappear into the vacuum of bottomless appetite.

I do not want to be loved like a soap opera,

where manipulation and deceit are central characters,

twin ploys to force compliance to demands,

and happy-ever-after only lasts until the next frustrated longing breaks all promises.

I do not want my children to see themselves as greedy consumers of my love.

And yet, I have to wonder…

Have I taught them to love this way?

to see love as a game that must be won through someone else’s loss?

to see love as a limited supply for which they must compete?

to see love as a selfish gratification for their desires?

And if I have…

How can I change that lesson?

And teach them now, instead, to see Love

as the Source

and self-giving purpose

of their lives?

That last question is genuine. Ideas welcomed.



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.

6 thoughts on “Poetic Purge for a Pensive Parent

  1. Unfortunately in answer to the last question, it may just be their ages too. They seem to be at that age when they are trying to see what the limits are and how do they get what they want. And in developing their self identities your opinion matters and it matters who you love more. It is going to take patience, a great deal of patience. Just the fact that you are asking these questions should help you realize that you are aware of what is going on and that is a good thing. Exhausting, but good. I also think they are at an age when you can correct them on emotional issues and they begin to understand.

    When they are whining for your attention, being deceitful, manipulative or competing with each other you can put them in a time out. Then speak to each one or them together and ask them how would they feel if someone was doing that to them? How would they feel if you made them feel the way they are making you feel? Put it back on them. Make them aware of what they are doing and how it is affecting another person. I believe we are born with the capacity for compassion and empathy, but it also has to be encouraged and taught to be used.

    “I am your mother and I love you both, I will not choose between you, I will not love one more than another and I will not allow you to manipulate me into giving you anything, especially my affection.” Try that and see what happens.

    Good luck from a Mom who has been there. 😀

    • Thank you for the encouragement and advise. We certainly do talk with the kids about considering how their actions impact others (“kindness” is our family word), but that always bears repeating.

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