Weekend links & poetry

Ever deal with battles at bedtime? Here is our resident poet’s take on the struggle to get a little one to finally go to sleep. Read and enjoy…


I pull her door closed again,
or nearly closed, since I know better,
drawing it toward the jamb with a practiced arm,
pausing at our precise line of compromise—
the angle where her longing for light from the hall
meets my only condition, sufficient shadow
for her to fall asleep.

All is quiet as I tiptoe away, holding my breath
because the act of exhalation might be taken
as a summons—then I settle in bed with a book,
claim my first long breath of the day,
and let my mind sidle into the story.

I have mentally defected when she appears
without warning, knocking me back to the world
where I’m a parent of a child with needs:
this time it’s a drink of water that for some reason
she can’t fetch for herself. That is my clue,
but I am tired and have been listening all day,

so what I hear is that our truce has been breached,
our short-lived ceasefire is over, and now this is war—
I spring out of bed and march her back to her room,
dropping a barrage of explosive rebukes.

By all accounts I seem to have won—
she is restored to her rightful place in bed
and the water is long forgotten—but it’s a paltry win,
if the reward is to retreat to solitude and a novel,
for I am in her space, still talking;
my blood pressure still escalating.

As soon as I fall silent
she produces a new excuse to keep me
in the room, and I see a slight smile surface
at the success of these guerrilla maneuvers.
But then one hand balls up to rub at her eyes
and a yawn escapes her now grinning mouth—

she is tired of fighting sleep single-handed,
and now that I’m there
she can lay down arms
and rest.

© Sarah Dunning Park, 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Tsh and Sarah

Tsh compiled today's list of links. Today's poem is by our poet-in-residence, Sarah Dunning Park, whose book, What It Is Is Beautiful, contains poems about the complexities of being a mom. Writing this poetry sometimes helps her be a better mother, and sometimes leads her to yell at everyone to let her think in peace. Sarah and her husband, Charlie Park, run PearBudget.com, and attempt to be good parents for their three daughters.

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  1. Thanks for the links. Just curious- How come Simple Design isn’t on the side bar with all the others? I’m always forgetting about it!

    • It’s coming, I promise! We’re working on some site upgrades… Thanks for the reminder, I’ll put it to the top of my to-do list.

  2. Aaaaah. I am loving this poetry. 🙂

  3. Sarah, I love the “precise line of compromise.” Your words are always so rich; I feel like I’m spying on you at home. Best of luck getting back to your novel reading!

  4. Oh, I love that poem. I’ll have to send it to my sister, who has one such on-going war at her home almost every night. I think she’d really appreciate the thought of not being the only one!

    • Thank you, Alarwyn!! Please do pass it along to your sister. And I’m encouraged, too, to not be the only one!

  5. Wonderful, as always, Sarah.

  6. Oh how often bedtime does feel like a battle! I can so relate to the mental defection…
    Also – I feel a bit giddy that my Sorta Crunchy guest post made your links. I’m practically famous! 😉

    • Hi Jessica—I’m so glad you can identify! And I loved your guest post…especially the ‘book date’ idea!

  7. I can so relate to this poem–love it!

  8. So true! Sometimes I marvel at how a small, three-year old can push all the right buttons and make my skin boil – like you said – blood pressure rise. I keep thinking, one of these days we’ll have to wake them and coax them from bed. (One of these days – meaning like ten years from now).

  9. This is me and my boy to-a-T! Honestly, I know he is just excited about life and wants company but such struggles really can get to you when they encroach on your only few minutes of peace. Slowly, slowly we are getting there but I’m glad I’m not the only one who suffers with this night-time battle.

    Love and peace,


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