An ode to the parent on the train

I see you on the platform,

London marathon jacket on your back,

Staring at your phone, making me wonder what you’re at.

You’re clearly dressed for business AND recreation too,

With your trainers on your feet, not a smart looking shoe.

 

There’s a fabric shopping bag on your shoulder

from ‘Oak-something’ primary school

with hand drawn self-portraits of the children, who long for Christmas soon.

Maybe that’s why you’re on your phone…you’re searching for some gifts?

Or maybe you’re trying to get ahead today, by making ‘to-do lists’?

 

And then you board and sit with friends, chatting openly about life,

The chaos in the morning, the trouble and the strife.

You talk about the party, you haven’t started planning yet,

the school trips, PE kits and how you must not forget the vet!

The cat needs to be neutered, George’s plimsoles are too small, the boiler’s on the blink and there’s mud all down the hall!

 

Your friends all sit and listen, nodding along with you,

“It IS so hard”, they say, “when you have soooo much to do”.

You smile politely and listen, as you look back to your phone,

Only to realise you forgot, you’ve got a meeting, so you’re going to be late home!

 

It is so hard being a working parent,

It’s a relentless balancing act.

The constant guilt is ever present as you continue to work out flat.

 

And as I sit and listen I can’t but help but sigh,

I wish life was not like this, for you or for I.

I never realised how hard it was, to be a working mum.

I didn’t know we’d have to give everything to everyone under the sun.

 

You’re on your knees,

You’re staying up late,

You’re trying to do your best.

And you feel you need to help everyone,

When you really need a rest.  

                                                                                                      

It doesn’t have to be this way,

You really do have a choice.

When the suffragettes fought for us, they also fought for us to use our voice.

So ask for help, be open and say I need a rest today.

The dishes can wait, the cat won’t die, and your friends won’t go away.

 

If you’re not looking after you, not caring for yourself,

You’ll find yourself exhausted and throttling that bloody Christmas Elf!

I’m not telling you to find more time, not telling you to sit,

Not telling you to ‘just relax’ because you’ll just say that’s bullsh*t.

 

I’m asking you, to ask yourself

What is it that you NEED?

Where should you start with all of this, to get you off your knees?

Can you choose to put you first, to nourish and to feed you?

You might say no, you might resist, because everybody needs you!

But in serving them, you’re staying dog tired and your to-do list just gets longer.

When you put you first, just once and a while, your body will grow stronger.

 

Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s a lifesaving tool,

It means you get to have a life and serve your family too.

Life is hard, life is tough, it brings so much stress each day.

But stress doesn’t have to be stressful, there IS another way.

Start with a “no” OR ask for help OR stop for just a little while,

Work will get done, kids will still have fun, and you, my friend, will thrive!