Sometimes Feel Irrelevant in Motherhood?

a poem



The matter at hand is always changing

from breakfast to lunch to dinner

from cash to time to patience

from the dog who stops, refusing to move

pushing the owner’s lips into a shape of a sigh

until there is nothing left to notice

but the white animal straining at the leash

with need to capture this specific scent.


We make lists to capture what is most important

then we turn away, hardly ready to begin number one.

What is so important that a moment can’t reverse?

All I hear is relevance; what is relevant to you?

The day gets away from me and the chores are undone

as I turn the syllables over and around in my head

rel-a-vance rel-a-vance: what is in front of you won’t last

not the shape of a body or the sound of a sigh

although it sounds familiar, watch, it’s not the same ever again

only a piece of it remains. Who still needs you and why?

If need defines you, what do you really want?


My children place themselves in front of me

so full of need and want that I spend time every day

sorting out need from want, knowing even the definitions hardly matter

as their bodies change shape I’m just lucky to be in the room

providing myself on bended knee, offering up the middle years

to their younger years, all of this rushing by until I stop

in front of the sign one of them made

that categorizes needs and wants

pushing me back to the idea of a pyramid of needs met.


I am privileged and white, hardly working and working all the time.

Is there relevance in the laundry

as surely as service is a form of love?

I ponder the idea of independence, of help being a hindrance

of what a dinosaur I will be career wise

when I no longer wash the school uniforms or cart my youngest

off to five tutoring sessions a week.

How relevant will my resume be then?

But still and yet, Rumi calls my name

and I’m off to kiss the ground of this life I have chosen

would chose again, even as I wonder at a parallel universe

hear someone calling me doctor, editor, preacher instead of mother, dabbling writer, wife.


About Nancy Schatz Alton 1 Article
Writer, editor and writing coach Nancy Schatz Alton is the co-author of two holistic health care guides, The Healthy Back Book and The Healthy Knees Book. When not navigating parenthood, she uses her brainpower to write, edit and fact-check articles for magazines and websites (including Find her personal blog at Within the Words.