Sonnet: On Maternity Leave. To My Daughter.


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, says Will Shakespeare. Oh wait,

did Browning write that? Did I not do a

Degree in this? Who knows. Before you, there was

Another me. She liked her job, her books,

Her wine. She drank coffee and had blow drys.

Now you. You taught me much. Like love, whilst drenched

In peanut butter flavoured vomit. Like

Patience, while your cries gradually softened

To whispered breath as all the while I sang

Old songs and hymns, your tiny form on my

Old heart. You were the Tiny. That’s what we call

You, our baby, though you were never small.


Our beloved. So tall, in clothes for those

Of twice your age. So beautiful and so

Tall. Our last week as a pair of giggling

Clowns, lazy picnickers, of grimy diners, lounge

Lizards (lounging in parks, cuddled on chairs),

Is here. Will your new nanny know the ways

I love you? Will she know how you like to

Hold your monkey as you fall asleep, and

For your Mummy to hold you when you wake?

That your outstretched arms mean you want to be

Close? That you love cats, clocks, balloons, balls that

Bounce, Bells, Mungo Jerry, spoons, tuna?

I need to tell her that you don’t like the

Opera! You know, just in case. Oh dear.


You know, you brought me to my knees in prayer

When it was hard and when it was sublime.

You. You widened my smile and deepened my

Laugh. I return to my desk as someone

Other than that one who left. I am softer.

Tougher. Fragile. More wise? I’m older. I’m

Younger. This is starting to sound like a

Meredith Brooks song, but you know what I

Mean. How can I describe the love I have

For You? How can a simple sonnet tell

Of such depth of feeling when try as I might, I’m

Just not Shakespeare (Or Liz Browning either).

A year of unfinished coffee, bad hair,

Flip flops, chipped nail varnish, and love.

Fourteen lines are just not enough.


This blog is part of our ‘A Letter To’ series.

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Founder of MGF, Helen is a mum of four who spends way too much time on the interweb and not enough time in bed. She loves wearing her dressing gown, car boot sales and watching TV programmes featuring food. Her specialist subjects include 'how to overfill your car boot' and 'how to avoid dusting'. Follow her at Twitter: @Ginfund, Facebook: @MGFund, Instagram: @mummysginfund and online: