Kate Baer’s Motherhood Poems Make Me Laugh and Cry

Parenting Poems by Kate Baer

Have you heard of Kate Baer? The Pennsylvania-based poet writes about the behind-the-scenes of parenting and marriage in such a real way, you can’t help nodding your head while reading. Here are three of her poems…

Deleted Sentences
Dear husband. Dear lover. Dear darling of my
heart. No, I do not want to attend the barbeque
scheduled cruelly over naptime. I do not want to
go to the recital either. Can you tell your sister
that too? In the morning I saw you dancing with
our daughter and for a moment, I almost cried.
I hate when people say I almost cried. Why even
mention it at all?

What time will you be home? What time do you
think you may be home? What time should we
wait for you outside on the lawn while the pasta
boils over and the baby cries because he misses you?
Oh, before I go — what time will you be home?

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if you
died and I had to write a eulogy while lost in my
grief. What would I say? And who would take out
the trash bins on dark Sunday nights or hold our
children while they cried through fever dreams?

What time will you be home?

Robyn Hood

Imagine if we took back our diets,
our grand delusions, the time spent
thinking about the curve of our form.
Imagine if we took back every time we
called attention to one or the other: her
body, our body, the bad shape of things.

Imagine the minutes that would stretch
into hours. Day after day stolen back like
a thief.

Imagine the power of loose arms and
assurance. The years welcomed home
in a soft, cotton dress.

What Children Say

I can’t reach my cup, my water bottle,
the snack up on the shelf. I can’t do
it. I won’t do it. I would never do it
in a million years. You need to help
me. Help me faster. Do it the way
I asked you to. I don’t like pizza or
watermelon. I don’t like anything I
liked before. I do not want it. I do
not need it. I will never move up off
this floor. Do not help me. Do not
hold me. Do not sit down beside my
bed. I’m not sleeping. I’m not tired.
I’m too scared to fall asleep. You must
hold me. You must rock me. Do not
leave me all alone. I am thirsty. I am
hungry. I am too tired to put my toys
away. Do not be angry. Do not start
singing. Where is the butterfly I drew?
I’m still hungry. I’m still playing. Will
you leave me? Will you stay?

How beautiful are those?! And here’s a Q&A with Kate:

Joanna: When we started our Motherhood Monday column eight years ago, my goal was to write about the day-to-day reality of parenting. As Carl Jung wrote, ‘Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important.’ Your poetry reveals the behind-the-scenes of parenting with such honesty. Did you set out to do that?

Kate: The experience of motherhood is one of the biggest and most complex experiences we have in humanity. I started realizing that the vulnerability of talking about these themes — not the grandiose themes of parenthood, but the real intimate ones — is what leads to connection. The words just come out — the things we all do, that we all experience.

Do poetry ideas come to you as you’re going about your day — like, when you’re actually waiting for your husband to come home?
Yes, it happens all the time. It surprises me. I’ve even started to dream sentences. During the day, I jot things down on a piece of paper — or write a quick email myself so I don’t have to keep track of that piece of paper!

Do you have a favorite poem of yours?
My favorite that I’ve ever written is Motherload — about the make up of a mother, where all the things are in her body. I felt that really deeply.

How long does it take you to write a poem?
Deleted Sentences, which is by far that most popular, took me about 15 minutes. It was free flowing. Which is so frustrating because others will take weeks!

What other poets do you like?
When Mary Oliver died, I reread a bunch of her work, and it got me back into writing poetry again. And Ada Limón. She has beautiful, beautiful work.

What else has surprised you about this process?
People often say to me, I don’t like poetry, but I like yours. I take it as a compliment, but I always want to remind people that they probably do like poetry — you just have to find the form or poet that you like. It’s like saying you don’t like music because you listened to a genre you didn’t like.

Why do you connect with poetry?
Poetry is so boiled down, it’s straight to the heart. That’s what I love so much about it. It can be like reading your favorite novel in one paragraph.

Thank you so much, Kate! Kate is now working on a book of poetry, as well as a literary thriller. Cannot wait for both.

P.S. A favorite poem and three words that changed how I parent.

(Photo by Kate Baer.)

  1. Belchik says...

    First and third just clicked for me, so on point!

  2. Jamie Knol says...

    Oh, Kate you’ve captured motherhood beautifully. I’m currently in the thick of it with a toddler and a 6 month old, and find myself on the verge of laughter and tears nearly every moment of every day. These poems make me feel known and heard.

  3. Kellie Shoten says...

    We’re having a baby boy in October and I am so happy to have found this adorable site! I am dying for the wylie romper – would be so cute this spring!

  4. Kristin says...

    Cup of Jo has given me so much, but this may be the best gift ever. Thank you so very much for introducing me to Kate Baer! And do please let us know when her book is available.

  5. hannah says...

    very hard to choose but I think the maude culottes in moss are wonderful!

  6. Kate says...

    Ahhh what a treat. I’ve also been a fan of Kate’s blog and writing for ages but thank you for highlighting her amazingness and her book! She is so talented. I’m 9 days postpartum and her words are beautiful and real, now more than ever. Sob.

  7. I had tears of joy reading this. So beautiful I literally have goosebumps.
    You are one beautiful soul :)

  8. Pats says...

    I love Kate Baer’s writing so much!

  9. VP says...

    Just read “Motherload.” WOWZA. Gut wrenching!

  10. Nicole says...

    Thank you so much for introducing such a beautiful writer to us. I have been following her for a few weeks (since you posted one of her poems on intstagram), and…wow. Hits you right in the gut.

  11. Kristie says...

    I almost cried, yesterday I too was waiting on the doorstep for my husband to come home with a fussy baby on my hip and a pan of meatballs hissing and spluttering over. She’s captured that daily little moment of yearning so beautifully.

  12. Alicia says...

    Oh my yes… “when will you be home?”

    As a stay-at-home mother of two with a part-time work-from-home job whose partner works full-time outside the home, “Deleted Sentences” just nails it for me.

  13. Saundra says...

    so hard to choose. the striped tee and those pinafores are darling!

    • You commented on the wrong post dear! Hurry and comment on the mabo post to enter!

  14. Katie says...

    I’ve followed Kate on Instagram for years. I first discovered her when I was pregnant with my first. My friend very helpfully sent me a blog post of Katie’s about how she felt like she was shitting glass for weeks after having a baby ?Thanks, Amanda! VERY happy to report I did not shit glass.

    All that said, I love everything she’s done, and I agree with others above that it was such a fun surprise this morning to see her on this platform. Her photography is every bit as good as her poetry. Her book reviews are also excellent. I used to love her blog (RIP). Eagerly awaiting her book.

  15. Eliza says...

    On not liking poetry: My sister told me she didn’t like poetry and I told her to imagine that all the poems she was reading were Beyonce lyrics before the notes were added.

    • Emily says...

      Oh dear! As a lifelong student of poetry, I wish this were the other way around…

    • Kate Shumaker says...

      Ooooh Kate Baer is one of my favorites. I’ve been following her for years (it seriously feels like we’re old friends) and she is incredible with words. She’s poignant and so funny and I’m thrilled to see she’s putting more of her stuff into the world. She’s a true treasure.

      Also- Fleabag!

  16. M says...

    Hi! I love these so much! And I have an odd question. How does Kate put an image file of her poems on Instagram? Does she screen shot a word document or does she use a special app? I’m also a poet and I’ve been struggling to figure out a way to do this and still keep the poem’s form. Thanks so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      she screenshots a word doc! :)

    • M says...

      Thank you, Joanna!

  17. Jasna says...

    I’ve been following her for a long while. She is a true gem! Literally screamed with excitement when I saw this post, as if she was a dear friend. :-)

    • Bekah says...

      I don’t know Kate at all IRL but have followed her for several years. She used to do these great tweet/GIF round ups on her blog, and I always loved her off-beat sense of humor. I was so happy to see her featured here. Yay, Kate! ❤️

  18. Ceridwen says...

    These are incredible. Really knock you out. I love What Children Say. It captures the depth and contradictions of it all and of the moments in parenting that really don’t last long but feel like forever at the time. My husband, stay at home dad, would relate to deleted sentences. He so often asks me that question… I’ll often text him back asking, “do you need anything on my way back?” And he says “No. just come home.”

  19. I can’t with her poems. I mean, I can because they absolutely gut me to the core. Still, I can’t because my mascara isn’t waterproof.

  20. Jenny says...

    I’m currently sitting at the foot of my fiery, opinionated 3.5-year-old’s bed, waiting for her to fall asleep after a long, grey day with her and my 1-year-old, who was heartbroken today for unknown reasons, and I’m silently sobbing as I read through more of Kate’s beautiful work. She cuts to the core of what it is to be a mother- the heavy, relentless, profound honor of it all. I found myself grasping my heart and nodding as I read many of her poems. Thank you, thank you for bringing her to my attention!

    • Angela says...

      “Heavy, relentless, profound honor of it all.” So beautifully said! This struck me!!

  21. Meg says...

    That photograph… divinity. Love.

  22. AC says...

    I want a framed print of Robyn Hood in my office. Please, please put one on Etsy! Would be so great for my colleagues, friends and the young women I work with every day.

  23. Emily says...

    Let us know when her book comes out, I would buy it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i will!

  24. Hannah says...

    I have a 7 month old baby at home and teared up at my desk while reading this post. I can relate to every word. I feel like Deleted Sentences is something I feel weekly at this current time in my life. My love goes out to all the mommas out there.

  25. Steph Gilman says...

    I spent so much of my life feeling shame for not understanding poetry. Similar to my struggle to enjoy some classic literature. I’m a writer. You aren’t allowed to not like poetry if you’re a writer [is what I believed]. These could not be mutually exclusive. But then I discovered Naomi Shihab Nye and Mary Oliver and Sharon Olds. Their words clicked with my brain and I realized I had just never found my style. It was so refreshing to realize I wasn’t lacking something.

  26. M says...

    I am such a big fan of hers! So goooooood.

  27. A says...

    I needed this. Obsessed already. Thank you.

  28. S. O'NEILL says...

    Wow! I wish I knew of her a couple of years ago. Reading her work would have felt like therapy. I needed it then. I still need it now. But things feel a little lighter now that my boys are a litter older. 8 and 5. But this helps take some of the guilt away for feeling so tired and frustrated when they were babies. Thank you for sharing.

  29. Erin says...

    Oh yay!!! Fun fact: Kate Baer is almost my friend in real life. I love her and am so glad you’re featuring her on Cup of Jo!

  30. Stephanie says...

    I’m in the throes of young motherhood and her poetry really speaks to me- like tears welling in eyes and heart flutters. She so perfectly captures this season of life. I absolutely can’t wait for her book to be released. Thanks for introducing me to her COJ!

  31. Yayyyy Instagram worlds colliding! I just started following Kate and I love her work. She has inspired me to keep jotting down thoughts and poems that come to me while raising my daughter. Funny note, when she posts her poetry, her Instagram captions always make me laugh. Her caption for “Deleted Sentences” was simply: ETA?

  32. Abbie says...

    Thank you for all of these words, you beautiful, beautiful, incredible women and mothers. ??

  33. Justine says...

    Ok… I love this woman. Just went down the rabbit hole of her Instagram…. Kate Baer, you are wonderful.

  34. Justine says...

    Wow, Robyn Hood just brought me to tears. I can’t wait to dive deep into her Instagram (where I see she also does book recs). Also, Joanna, if I can just take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for recommending Fleabag, because it’s perfect.

  35. Sarah says...

    The poems are so touching. I’m especially in love with that photo! It seems to capture motherhood exactly.

  36. emily burkholder says...

    KATE BAER! I am beaming reading this! Been reading YOU and CUP of JO for so long. To see these 2 wonderful things collide is breathtaking!

  37. Sarah S says...

    I have loved her work for so long, it’s amazingly gratifying to see her on this type of platform. Also, she is hilarious! Her IG captions are pure gold.

  38. Hannah R says...

    Oh wow Deleted Sentences is me to a T! I agree with her in that “I don’t like poetry but I like yours” :)

  39. Karen T. says...

    Thank you for the introduction to Kate’s poetry, Joanna. I’m so moved right now. These hit home and “Deleted Sentences” reminds me of when my boys were little and I regularly asked my hubby “what did you have for lunch today?” as if his answer would fill the space of my toddler(only) filled days…

    • Abesha1 says...


  40. Cat says...

    Delighted to see Kate Baer being recognized here! Her instagram feed is one of my favorites – she always writes something I deeply identify with; it’s like magic. Also her book recommendations have never let me down!

  41. Jenna says...

    These poems are MOVING! I think i get poetry now?! I had to pause reading her Instagram page because it was just too beautiful and I felt like was reading them too fast (also i am at work and was worried i would break down into a sobbing mess). Thanks for sharing her with us!