I have some esoteric and useless talents. I’m great at arranging dried flowers. I can bake the most delicious traditional English desserts. (You’ve probably never heard of any of them except for Sticky Toffee Pudding). And I can write almost anything in verse. Pretty good verse, too.

I started my career in poetry when my first child was born in 1980. I started writing cute cards in verse ‘from’ my infant son to his Dad and grandparents on holidays and birthdays. It became a tradition. I branched out into humorous personalized poems about the ‘subject’ family member. I wrote a post heart surgery poem and Bar and Bat Mitzvah poems for my kids. I also wrote a wedding poem for my son and for Tom and me.

A poem I wrote for my first husband who loved wild ties

I have poems documenting our family’s life from 1980 to today. Sort of a family history in verse. I’ve copied all the poems and put them in folders for my kids to have.

I even started a business based on my poetic skills. I customized poems, sometimes in conjunction with a photo montage, for other people’s special events. If you talked to me for about twenty minutes about your friend or family member, I could personalize a poem about them that was spot on. People couldn’t believe that the person who wrote the poem didn’t even know the subject.

I got paying clients steadily for a year by word of mouth. Then it suddenly stopped. This was pre internet and I know nothing about marketing. I couldn’t afford to hire someone to do it for me. So the ‘business’ died.

But I kept writing my poems. I wrote a long one for Tom’s 60th birthday and had his commercial artist brother surround the poem with personalized drawings of Tom. It’s hanging in our front hallway.

Poem for tom with customized illustrations

Then my daughter challenged me to write her some relationship truths I’d learned and wanted to pass on to her. She said she’d read what I wrote if I made it ‘interesting’. So I did it in verse. I called it “Advise In Verse or Visa Versa”.

I loved the idea of writing mini essays in verse. So I started writing them and called them “Rhyming Rants: Witty and Terse Essays in Verse”. I’ve written six so far. As I said, they’re useless, but I think they’re fun.

So here is one of my favorite Rhyming Rants, this one on parenting. Enjoy!



 Ellin Curley


In most child-rearing books, for good reason, I confess,

The parent experience gets very little press.

The focus is on the child – she’s what it’s all about –

Not parents who may be plagued by fear and by doubt.

So here’s a new perspective for a parenting guide;

Viewing child development from the parents’ side.

The story starts when you meet your daughter or son

And your life journey together has just begun.

You know the side effects of sleep deprivation

But not those of serious ego deflation.

Now no one wants to know how you are anymore.

It’s all about the baby and it cuts to the core.

You must also accept, at this major junction,

A diminished level of mental function.

But repeat to yourself, so it’s easier to bear:

“An intelligent adult is still in me somewhere!”

Another low blow that will eat at your soul,

Is losing the illusion of being in control.

If you’re a night person but baby wakes at five

Learn to love the dawn if you want to survive.

If you’re spontaneous, give it up and don’t grouse

Cause now it takes an hour just to leave the house.

As infant turns to toddler, you reach another stage

And must learn to adapt to the rigors of this age.

The crushing fatigue from your perpetual motion

Makes you miss mere lack of sleep as the price of devotion.

On the mental side, non-stop toddler questions will show

Despite your education, how little you know.

So play “Jeopardy” for hours and trivia games,

Study how everything works, learn everything’s names.

This may give you some of the information you lacked

So your ego can survive relatively intact.

At age five or six comes a period of calm

When it’s not as wearing to be a Dad or Mom.

Children sleep through the night and feed and dress themselves

(Though they still can’t master putting toys back on shelves).

They can be fun and loving and do their own thing;

They think you’re the greatest but don’t need to cling.

The down side of this otherwise benign phase

Is you’re running around in an overscheduled daze.

You have to help with homework and projects till you’re numb;

Practice, lessons, play dates you must get them to and from.

Now you’ve finally hit your stride in the parenting role;

And then you enter the infamous “teen years” black hole.

You thought that, at last, you had rejoined humanity

But a teenager emerges to reclaim your sanity.

One day you’re living a relatively peaceful life;

The next, your days are filled with frustration and strife.

Your child is erratic, but always down on you;

You know nothing at all, in their oft expressed view.

They avoid you and can’t be bribed into talking,

They won’t go “en famille” without whining and balking.

So, of course, you feel rejected, hurt and confused;

Also angry at being so wrongfully abused.

You feel powerless, a failure, you’re in great pain;

You see all that you’ve worked for going down the drain.

But somehow, with time, you come out the other side.

Your teens grow into people you can look at with pride.

Your “adults” respect you (you’re not dumb anymore)

And spending time with you is no longer a chore.

But speaking of chores – you’re doing them again;

Their laundry and meals; how did this happen and when?

Adult kids bring companionship and less angst, it’s true,

But you still worry, cry or cheer, whatever they do.

This time around though you must not “interfere”

So you don’t say things directly, you can’t “tell”, you just “steer”.

But then you get grandkids and your ego again soars.

You are doted on and worshipped – by their kids, not yours.

Your past is in perspective and your future is clear

You’ve now come full circle in your parenting career.

You watch your kids as parents and see their kids grow

Knowing bits of yourself will live on, when you go.

Enjoy these years with family, of sharing and giving,

Cause soon they’ll be selling you on assisted living.

Have fun being stubborn and saying “No!” to every pitch –

It’s your turn to drive them crazy – payback’s a bitch!


    1. It’s all so vivid to me still. It was so many years ago but still so real in my mind. Sometimes I miss the little people I used to live with. The grownups are wonderful. But those little guys were so special, at each stage growing up.


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