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This Parenting Poem ‘as Gaeilge’ Took my Breath Away

Jennifer Lawlor

I remember it so clearly, a few years ago when one of my best friends recited this poem to me. We both had two toddlers at the time and were joking about the chaos. As an Irish speaker, she spoke it ‘as Gaeilge’ first and then in English. It took my breath away when I heard it...

‘Subh Milis’ by Irish writer Séamus Ó Néill.


Original

Bhí subh mhilis

Ar bhaschrann an dorais

Ach mhuch mé an corraí

Ionam a d'éirigh,

Mar smaoinigh mé ar an lá

Nuair a bheas an bhaschrann glan,

Agus an lámh bheag

Ar iarraidh.

Translation

There was jam

On the door handle

But I suppressed the anger

That rose up in me,

Because I thought of the day

when the door handle would be clean

And the little hand

Gone.


It gets me every time – sniff.

After the arrival of my three boys my perfectly tidy show home is long gone. It seemed to literally happen overnight, one day I just gave up. I made peace with the clutter, embraced the scratches, and moved all the breakables out of the way! Don’t get me wrong, I can usually be found scrubbing furiously before any visitors arrive, but on a day to day basis I’ve definitely accepted the chaos.

I’ve learned that almost everything can be cleaned away, and the things that can’t are memories from a time when they were small and they lived in a happy house.

Now, I’m off to find a tissue – the last time I saw them they were in the coal bucket!

Jen x


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