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Poem: Resolution

First, by way of an intro, I need to make a confession:

Before having kids, I thought I was going to “do” motherhood perfectly. It would be challenging, of course, and probably character-building — but it wouldn’t be difficult to at least appear outwardly put-together, as a family. I mean, how hard could it be to teach kids decent manners and to dress them in clothes that couldn’t double as pajamas?

Famous last words — motherhood is hard. Your time, emotions, energy, and finances get stretched beyond capacity. Perhaps you’ve found this, too? Some things have to fall off the edges. And sometimes those things are … appearances.

I didn’t understand how drastically my priorities would shift after having kids. I had one friend whose kids were always wearing sweatsuits. I looked at them and swore to myself that I’d be dressing my future kids with a bit more style.

But now that I have children, my daily concerns are more practical — getting dinner on the table, kicking one kid’s whining habit, making sure another is thriving in school, and keeping myself balanced and sane — not attaining all my ideals of lifestyle perfection.

And those very sweatsuits I had criticized? They became hand-me-downs to our family … and my kids happen to love them.


for the pregnant woman at the supermarket

Resolve to always
feed them brain food
brimming with nutrients
and visual appeal.
Resolve to handpick
those foods with care,
as you glide through the aisles
of the grocery store,
aided by your polite progeny.
Resolve that you will never —
when the day comes —
raise the sort of children
who shun coordinated outfits,
like adorable corduroys
with wool pullovers,
in favor of worn t-shirts
and sweatpants
with stretched-out

Go ahead,
make your resolutions —
I did.

But later on,
if you find yourself
in the potato chip aisle
while two children
dangle from your cart
like a pair of monkeys,
with ill-fitting sweats
flapping at their ankles—
you have permission
to stop where you are,
to rest your head on the handlebar,
to collapse in a wheezing fit
of silent laughter—
and then, from the floor
by the tubs of pretzels,
you may, like me,
make a new resolution:
that you will never again
judge your fellow mother.

© Sarah Dunning Park, 2013. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Did you envision yourself as a certain kind of parent? How have you changed your goals since becoming one?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. mrs. camacho

    love. love love love!

  2. Catherine

    Oh, I love this. Just today I was tossing up between which pair of pants had the smallest worn holes in the knees for my son to wear to school. The button down shirt and the jaunty striped sweater to wear over it from J. Crew hang neatly in the closet while he wears too short sweatpants that he loves and sneakers with in built flashing lights (oh, the horror). His mussed up hair and snaggle toothed smile blind me to caring about it anymore!

    • Sarah


  3. Michele

    “Never again judge your fellow mother.”
    Applies to EVERY aspect of motherhood, really. This is great!

    • Sarah

      Thanks, Michele! Yes, I’ve had to eat my words in just about every facet of parenthood. 🙂

      • Sarah Westphal

        Amen! I have had to do the same.

  4. calliope

    Thank you for taking the thoughts off my mind and putting them into words
    Been there
    Done that
    I’ve learned the hard way (at least I did learn my lesson)

  5. Charis

    This is so very funny! I can totally relate as I have let go of so many ideals I had to embrace the reality of my blessings.

  6. Leigh Sabey

    So true! I’ve learned by now, 4 years into this whole parenting thing, that I can NEVER judge another mother. I visited a friend with 5 kids the other day and we chatted in the kitchen because she had mountains of laundry taking over her living room. I mean, unfathomably tall towers of laundry in various stages of cleanliness/folding. I didn’t even give it a thought because I know that if I ever have 5 kids, I’d be fighting the very same battles (or worse).

    • Sarah

      I hear you! I’ve finally begun to grasp that I can’t understand all the components of someone else’s life that have lead them to that moment. And now, as a mom myself, I have sympathy for other moms who find themselves in less-than-perfect places (read: everyone)…

  7. carmen

    Just wanted to say how much I love this. So true, I laughed a couple of times and worth remembering too.

  8. Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    I swore up and down before my daughter was born that she would never sleep in our bed, and would learn to love her crib right from the get go. Ha! God blessed us with a colicky, refluxly (is that even a word?), never ever want to sleep baby which = she ended up in our bed. It was the only way we could get a few hours of consolidated sleep. Never again will I make such bold proclamations, nor judge another mothers way of doing things!

    • Sarah

      “bold proclamations” — exactly. I made way, way too many of these.
      I hope your hours of consolidated sleep keep getting longer and longer, Brittnie!

  9. Tammy

    Oh my goodness! I love this. So, so true.

  10. Kimberly

    I was honestly quite taken aback by the judgemental comments I received (all from other mothers) the first time I posted something on facebook, quite innocently worded about wanting a little time to myself as a stay at home mom. Most of the comments were “well you shouldn’t have had kids then” and “its not about you anymore”. I just wanted to explode because I feel like yeah, I do get that. I gave up a lot of things that I REALLY wanted for myself to be a full time parent because thats what I felt was best for my kids in the end. I think I’ve had under three outings without children in the past two years (under three hours each), so its not like I’m constantly dumping them on other people to go party or complaining about them. I had to seriously restrain myself from passing judgement against them and posting “well maybe all of you would think about this a little differently if you didn’t dump your kids in daycare for 10+ hours a day.”

    • Sarah

      I’m so sorry. Facebook has a knack for bringing out the flippant in us, doesn’t it?
      I hope you’re able claim more opportunities to go out without kids — I have to admit that I live for that time, some days!

  11. Beth Young

    This is so, so good! Love it.

  12. Sarah @ Your Healthy Home Biz

    Ah – I can let myself off the hook for the unbelievable mess my house was most days when the kids were little! They’ve grown up healthy, with a good dose self-confidence and appreciation of life.

  13. Brandi Gunn

    Oh, wow. LOVE this poem. “Ill-fitting sweats / flapping at their ankles”… Mine suffer an inglorious attachment to stretch pants with holes. So my girls push each other through the grocery in tight highwaters with a little knee peeking through. One of them can’t let go of a sweatshirt we SPRAYPAINTED for the school play last year, its once-white sweat cuffs now off-brown after a full year of hard play and washings that didn’t cut it. The other sneaks to school wearing multiple layers of underwear. Like, three pair at one time. We have to try to catch her before she makes it out of the house. The worst part is, I’ve chosen my battles and these fashion atrocities aren’t the battles. May we never judge one another – never, never, never.

  14. Amy@PermissiontoPeruse

    Not sure I have a thought-provoking comment, just want to say I’ve lived this poem in the grocery store so many times. Well done.

  15. Lucille

    I just loved this poem! It made me laugh and smile. And it’s so very true.
    Thank you for sharing!

  16. 6512 and growing

    Absolutely lovely.
    The “wheezing fits of silent laughter” may save us after all.

  17. Nina

    I remember vowing that I wouldn’t clutter my home with kiddie stuff. It’s still fairly spacious and clutter-free, but there are *definitely* kiddie stuff and toys around. I give myself a pass when I look like crap running errands but after a while I need to at least brush my hair and put on a decent outfit, otherwise I’ll start feeling terrible. Happy mama=happy kiddos 🙂

    • Katelyn

      As far as “kiddie stuff” goes, I just remind myself that it’s my son’s house too and rightfully should reflect him as well as us (his parents.)

  18. Ann

    I laughed so hard I had tears.
    This is totally me. Thanks so much for a dose of reality.

  19. Tsh

    Sarah, I feel like I also want to share this with our cute, spunky 20-year-old babysitter who never says anything unkind, but I’m sure from time to time she must think, “How hard can it be to keep a house clean with three small children?”

    Thanks for this rockin’ awesome poem. You have a gift.

    • Jen

      I laughed when I read that. I have a one year old girl and work outside the home so at the end of the day I look around and go ‘how is this possible?’ We would have been home a total of 2 hours before she’s in bed and yet the house is a disaster. Take the babysitter out of the equation and I still wonder how such a tiny little thing that can barely walk can make such a huge mess. 🙂

    • Sarah Dunning Park

      Thank you, Tsh! And I’m so honored to have the chance to guest post here!
      I bet you’re right about your babysitter… I remember thinking similar thoughts back when I babysat! 🙂

  20. Kristin

    Well said! Today I sent the kids off to school dressed for Mis-Matched Day. They were so proud of the crazy outfits they chose. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how they looked different from any other day.

  21. Noe

    Oh, I love this! 🙂

  22. Michelle

    Judging is so easy versus understanding…amazing how we often end up in those shoes!! I absolutely loved it :o)

  23. Jessica

    I never comment, but had to this time and tell you I love this!

    • Sarah Dunning Park

      Hey, thanks for speaking up, Jessica!! That made my day.

  24. megan

    Oh Goodness, do I know the feeling. TV was my big one. Then reality hit: a two year old who stopped napping and a 6 month old who didn’t sleep through the night. Hello, PBS kids!

    • Sarah Dunning Park

      I know. What would we do without PBS kids?!

  25. Emily @Random Recycling

    Agree. Add to that the days your little girl won’t let you do her hair, won’t wear matching socks and refuses to wear pants. I’m trying to let it go more this year and just enjoy their personality more.

  26. Ms. HalfEmpty

    I can just picture you looking at the pregnant woman in the supermarket with your wisdom of motherhood — so vivid and real! I’m glad you’ve given yourself and other mothers permission to just be, and allow your kids to explore their own sense of “fashion” and the monkey bars in the grocery store. Keep up the great work of raising your amazing little creatures.

    • Sarah Dunning Park

      Thank you, Ms. HalfEmpty! You know what monkeys they can be… 🙂

  27. michaboyett

    “you have permission
    to stop where you are,
    to rest your head on the handlebar,
    to collapse in a wheezing fit”

    I love this, Sarah. Thank you for giving us permission!

  28. cathy


  29. ninac

    Love this poem. I think I am lucky because I am the 4th of 5 girls. And I had my child much later then my sisters so I got to see their lives. I remember thinking my child would never sleep with me. And gently laughing with/at my sister because her family played a game of bed roulette. They all went to bed in their own beds. Then the oldest would migrate to the parental bed…my sister would get up and go into the now empty child bed…the youngest would come in and lay with her, then my sister would move to the empty bed and both kids would crawl in (the twin bed) with her, she would go back to the double bed…and it would start again. The husband never moved. And I asked her why she did that and she wearily said – you pick your battles. I decided my preemie could not sleep away from me when he was born (a monitor was not good enough to hear him breathe) and now five years later I broach the subject of him in his own bed and am met with hysterical crying…so he’s still in my bed. I’m amazed how fast he gets holes in his clothes (do they force them to walk on their knees in daycare?). Due to working strange shifts I actually dress him in his clothes the night before. For the first two years we would change at day care but I figured even ten more minutes of sleep made it worth it for him. Eating a rainbow does not happen. And sometimes he goes out in public dirty. And he’s five and doesn’t read – who knew me reading at three would not translate to my children not doing that?! I am still working on figuring out how to teach him so he actually learns.

  30. ninac

    Oh and since he doesn’t get to wear pjs during the work week when we are off, he does and if he wants to stay in them all day even while running errands, I’m okay with that. PJs are comfortable! And you know how cute little boys look in jeans? Not my son since he hates jeans or any type of button pant. Sigh…

  31. Hayley Lewis

    Brilliant! I love this! THANK YOU!

  32. Margaret

    Oh how this made me smile! Since I am the youngest of 6 and the last to have children, my revelation wasn’t quite so dramatic, but I too find myself doing things I would “never do” with my children.
    I am also a preschool teacher and it warms my heart when a child arrives at school in an outfit that was obviously their choice. Not only are we as parents choosing our battles, but we are also instilling independence in our children, and teaching them not to judge others by their outer appearances.

  33. connib

    Oh to get back the time wasted on the ‘so not necessary’ resolutions of parenthood!!!

  34. Kiasa

    Love this poem! I’m crying. I have always lived and worked with kids. Everyone around me told me I’d be such an awesome mom. That motherhood would come easily and naturally. I believed them. Having 3 little ones is hands down the hardest, most insanity producing thing I have ever done. I love being a mom. But I never imagined it would be so difficult.

  35. Kendra

    This is a wonderful post, even for the non-mothers, like myself 🙂

    This Little Ladybug

  36. Mary

    I am still perplexed when I see the kids in well co-ordinated outfits wondering how the parents make it happen (and more importantly stay).

    As to Tsh’s comment about sharing with her babysitter, I don’t remember ever thinking anything about any of the families’ homes when I babysit. I’m just optimistic my babysitters are as oblivious as I was! 🙂

  37. Alicia Berberich

    Yes, I was the perfect mother and knew all the answers… until, that was, I had kids of my own!! Oh baby! How things change!!

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