Tag Archives: motherhood

After-birth

A white room.
The clock swam,
Wavered and loomed,
Like an artificial moon.
While I rippled in 
Concentric circles.

Buried in my cocoon
She beat with paper wings
Against the drum of my belly
A light tattoo

And then
Pushed her way through
The darkness
Took to her wings
And flew.

He came dressed in the coat

Of my womb

Delicate china head

Miles of Aegean eyes

Soft mouth that suckles

Helpless pink hands waver

Unaware

Featherless birds above his head;

When he cried my breasts

Ached milk

Like split coconuts

Into the paradise

Of his mouth.

Today he is four

I look into his eyes

And see

War.

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Get Your Own Dinner

If I died

you would finger paint

your menu choices

with my blood

kick my corpse

to fetch and carry

stretch my skin

into a tray

use my hair

to stuff your pillows

push shoes

on to my flaccid feet

and send me out to hunt

I am

gnawed through:

a severed cord

lying in

a pool of soured milk

Get your own dinner

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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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Motherhood

He keeps me here

Like a pet

Or a slave

While he babbles nonsense

At the sky

Spits out the dinner I have made

On the table

And the floor.

He takes pleasure

In the simple things

That I have forgotten

Shows me the world

Full of wonder

Through his full moon eyes.

If I try to do anything I want

He shouts at me

Creates, then hinders

My chores

Dirty fingers on computer keys

Ransacked cupboards

And smashed crockery

Nothing is sacred.

Puts his small arms

Around my neck

His chubby soft legs

Around my waist

And rubs his cheek on mine

He does not care

That I am not beautiful.

He throws objects

At my head

And screams for me to

Play mind numbing

Repetitive games with him

Kicks and rages when

I put him down for a nap

When all I want is

To sleep like a baby.

He smells like

Fresh air

His kisses are gifts

From a tiny sweet smelling

Pink bubble of mouth

His eyes light up with love

When he sees me

As he sings his mantra;

Mum, mum, mum.

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