Tag Archives: family

Progeny

Half grown you

fit me end to end

legs, chest

heart and head

fall into the spaces

my body makes for you

still

This fierce love

has written me

made the striped

tiger skin

of my belly

The soft droop

of my eyes

The rise and fall

of my breasts

Now toys are gone

we play with words

but it is skin, blood

and bone

which

binds us

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Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children

The movie The Crow, contains one of the most moving lines about the mother-child relationship I have ever heard: ‘Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children’.

I think of this statement often at the moment, as I watch my eldest child, who is legally an adult, but emotionally a baby, make a mess of her life. When she fell over as a toddler, I picked her up, patched up her baddies, cuddled her and set her back down again, free to explore and play until she should fall again: I still do this, but her falls are potentially more dangerous, her baddies have the potential to scar in different, deeper, more painful and long lasting ways. Back then, I set the limits of her universe: now, I can be here to pick her up, but when I set her down again she must make her own limits.

Two days ago we had a painful, heart wrenching conversation, in which I told her that I cannot keep picking her up because I am at the limits of my own mental and physical strength and her current behaviour is threatening the health and welfare of her much younger sibling. I am to all intents and purposes a single mum, who works full time to support her family: the analogy I shared with her was that I often feel as though I am swimming across a deep lake with her and her brother on my back and that her flailing and splashing about threatens to drown us all. I told her that if this continues, I will have no choice but to take her brother and swim away, even though it will break my heart. She looked me in the eye and said ‘if you do that I will drown mum’. I know that this is true, but the only alternative is that we all drown and I simply will not let this happen. I told her this. She cried. I cried. She made me promises that I knew would be broken the very next day: I was right.

Someone very wise once told me that teenagers try to destroy their parents and it is their parents’ job not to let them. I can only pray that she is right and that in setting the hardest and most final of boundaries, the only one, in fact, that I have left at my disposal, I might somehow be able to keep my daughter safe, just like I did when she was a toddler. This poem is a little prayer, just for her:

Remember when

My hands were your nest

Stroking wisps of natal down

Turning the dead of night

Into a lactescent

Snow -white feast

Remember when

You landed

Under the full moon

Of my eyes

And took your

First steps towards

Arms as wide

As the sky

My love

The invisible

Intact umbilical

Is longer than

Any road away from here

Stronger than any

Harm which you

May do yourself

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