I’m like a bird

Yesterday my husband and I were having one of those early morning “who’s got it tougher” quibbles when I happened to look out the window and spot a bird perched solo on a branch.  I wanted to zap it with laser beam eyes and somehow switch places.  Just hang out on a branch for awhile.  Catch some rays.  Flap my wings.

Because I haven’t quite mastered the art of teleporting I decided to do the next best thing which was play the sanctimonious fool.  I slow cooked pork, I baked a cheesecake, I entertained children, I cleaned things.  I was untouchable damn it.  Inside I was crying.

I kept thinking about the Dunbar poem on why caged birds sing until I felt sufficiently shamed for comparing a poem about racism and oppression with the woes of a white, middle-class housewife.

Once my husband and I got over ourselves I told him about my little bird on a branch.  He said “how do you know that bird’s got it so easy?  It could be flying around all day looking for worms, trying to support a family” – and he’s right.

I just want a little space to beat my wings, sit still on a branch, feel the sun on my skin or the grass at my feet.  A quiet mind without chaos or deadlines, places to be or faces to wipe.  Is that so much to ask?


I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals-
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting-
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings-
I know why the caged bird sings!

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


  1. Kimberley M says

    Awwww, I think we all feel a little that way as parents, Carli. I know I do! We had such an amazing life before kids, and we have an amazing life now, but it’s different – not as much freedom, particularly without grandparents in town. I totally get where you’re coming from.

  2. says

    I have had strong moments of longing for that space too. Most times, I guess I’m too busy on the treadmill of getting on with the routine. Even writing this, the idea of a little space is a refreshing though in itself. Maybe I can learn the one-minute meditation technique and teleport myself there! Hoping you find and get to relish your pockets of space. xx

  3. Caroline says

    Parenting is tough gig. And you are studying too! We all have conversations like that. I think dad’s don’t put as much pressure on themselves as we do x

  4. says

    Just a little peace and quiet is all I’m after but I can’t seem to get it without someone trying to look up my dress or ask for food… and that’s just the husband…

  5. Deb_BrightandPrecious says

    Carli, you have such a talent for expressing yourself. I could relate so much to this. Yep, a little bit of space, a quiet mind… these are the things that give us sanity. Modern parenting is full of unnatural pressures (in my humble opinion) – and you’ve got much on your plate to boot. You have every right to feel and express these things. I hear you. xx PS That argument with out spouses about ‘who’s got it tougher’ – it’s unwinnable! (though we know who’re right, right?!)

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