Having It All

Standing in my fortress and I’m holding up the walls
With kids and work and life, Hey, look at me! I’ve got it all.
I’ve created something masterful, come watch me if you will,
Running running running, all the time to just stay still.
One hand is in the kitchen making healthy food for four,
One hand holds back the crushing guilt from knocking down my door
The walls aren’t soundproof, not a bit, I’m wincing as I hear
“No concern you’ve sacrificed your kids for your career?”
That one’s a direct hit, and it gets me in the chest,
A neighbour smiles and waves as she sips tea and takes a rest.
She’s getting on just fine, there must be something wrong with me
If I can’t keep the house intact and raise this family.
The bricks are built of emotional load, they’re glued with mental labour,
The floor is paved with “Could you just…?” and “Can I ask you one small favour?”
I close my eyes for seconds, and the shrill bell sounds again,
A deadline looms, black and fierce, so I pick up my pen.
The voices haven’t stopped. They shout, “Have you made that call?”
No one else will make it, and what’s one more juggling ball?
“Catch it with your shoulder, oh wow you’re super-mum!
Managing this (unfair) load, you inspire everyone!”
Drowning out those voices, which pepper us with guilt,
Assessing all our choices, in these castles that we’ve built.
“If you’re not happy that’s just shameful, look at what you’ve got,
Imagine all the others who’d be grateful for your lot.”
A stone cold cup of coffee, goes in the microwave,
Sifting through the leftovers to see what I can save.
“How’s your hair looking? Your man will be home soon”
Wife guilt in place of mum guilt, we all love a change of tune!
Ding dong, oh that’s the doorbell. Come in- excuse the mess.
Sit down and let me tell you eighteen reasons why I’m stressed.
I’ll laugh them off once I’m done, with a humorous remark,
“You’re allowed to find things tough, just please don’t lose your spark.”
The voices won’t let up, both exhausting and infernal,
Nope, it doesn’t help to recognise they’re almost all internal.
I paste the smile firmly on, you’d never spot the trick
I take a couple Nurofen, no time’s allowed for ‘sick’.
The roof’s twined with relationships, it’s looking quite dejected,
Patched up with late apologies, both surprising and expected
One loose leaf falls next to me, I swiftly read the page
“Where have you been? We’ve missed you! Dude-its been an age!”
I look up at the patchwork papers, many yellowed with neglect,
I watch another fade from sight, well- what did I expect?
“You can’t do everything” they chide, “something’s got to give”
“Work harder” says the other side “craft the life you want to live.”
This week’s different I tell myself, because of X Y Z
Next month is much quieter,
I’m almost sure,

That Moment

When you make her laugh and no one else could, when you see him smile across a crowded room before you’ve quite caught his eye. When you write that thought down, in fear of losing its memory, when you solve that puzzle first out of the group. How you interpret that comment as a compliment, so that no one gets hurt, how you change your mind last minute and save the day. As you remember why you loved your career all along, as you turn that final page and sit in silence. He grips your finger so tightly, that tiny person you gave life to, she asks you not to leave her alone as her breathing becomes shallow.

People like to talk about how small they feel, how infinitesimal they are in relation to the world, like that’s comforting. And maybe it is, in terms of a higher power who looks after such incredibly complex features of the universe as the tides and the planets so therefore cant have any trouble keeping you safe and happy. And maybe by feeling so small, so insignificant, your troubles become insignificant too.

But I prefer to think of those moments. That come up so rarely, but remind you, unquestionably, that you are not small.

You make an immense difference, at least in that instant, to another person. You have set into motion a sequence of events;. You’ve thought of something new, something real. That’s what’s comforting to me, the mind blowing realisation that you are one of billions, and yet you are one. In that moment, in your moment, you belong to people, you exist, and you matter.