poem about sleeping child

Poem: After Two Years, I Should Be Doing Anything Else

There is something magical about a sleeping child. My son turned five last week and I wrote this poem when he was two, as the title suggests.

As a parent, especially as a working parent, nap time can be a precious time to be productive. I had a ritual of pausing for a few minutes to just watch him sleep before I ran for my To Do list. It was a sort of meditation to just watch and soak in the awe of his existence.

I don’t mention it in the poem, but at the time I was experiencing the transition to single parenting, and these moments to let awe sink in were crucial to keeping purpose and perspective.

After Two Years, I Should Be Doing Anything Else

Slow breaths fill your body, still small,
but no longer so delicate.

North, South, East, West –
legs and arms sprawl.

When you were six weeks old,
a stranger told me how it would be:

his son is eighteen and still
he can’t stop staring.

You stare at your children
as long as they let you.

Awe slackens my jaw, straightens my spine,
smoothes tense fingers, stabilizes breath.

I watch you sleep and everything
is emptied from me.

Crystal Ellefsen

Crystal Ellefsen lives in San Diego with her blended family. She writes poetry, helps authors with their internet marketing, and makes time for sunsets and reading books.

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  1. Before I had my children I never understood the pictures or commentary around staring at sleeping children. Now, well – it’s a ritual. Just one last peek. Every night.

    Beautiful poem. Perfect.

  2. tricia Paoluccio says:

    your poem really moved me
    thanks for sharing it

  3. Crystal S says:

    I can completely relate. Thanks

  4. Beautiful.

  5. There is nothing in the world so peaceful as a sleeping child. That utter abandonment in rest propelled me and gave me a sense of purpose as I transitioned into single motherhood, too. It reminded my that all my striving was valuable because it allowed my little ones to rest secure.

    Best wishes!

  6. When I had my oldest and she was a few months old I remember standing over her crib and watching her sleep and thinking “this little innocent baby will one day be sitting on top of another little one” and how true my thoughts were as I gave birth to my second 20 months later. (the older one did give her some time though before she started sitting on her)

  7. I love this so much! I shared it with my mom’s group and they all sighed in recognition as well.

  8. Such a beautiful poem. I particularly love listening to the rhythmic, comforting breath of my daughter as she sleeps deeply. In moments like these everything else disappears and all is well with the world.

  9. So sweet… those moments are so precious… moments you wish you could keep forever.

  10. Love those last lines. Beautiful, Crystal.

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