Poem: What is Mum?

(In honour of Maternal Mental Health Month)

What is mum but the clay and the moulds
Through which our whole worlds are shaped?
What is mum? The vessel in which
Her children she selflessly creates.
A mum should be gentle and loving,
Firm but understanding, strict yet kind.
Mum’s the one to which we all look to
For love, compassion and empathy to find.

What is mum but this irreplaceable angel
Who seems to be able to juggle it all?
Who rarely seems to get angry or sad
Who loves her children, warts and all?
She carries out her motherly duties,
Her small smile positioned for all to see –
There are always haters and begrudgers
Itching to unveil the real bitch she can be.

What is mum on our island of Ireland,
Where she is no longer shackled to the sink
and yet she cannot find a high-paying job
to make the costs of childcare considerably shrink.
And yet if she chooses to stay home with the sprogs
she’s accused of arsing around –
But how much of their little lives will she miss in the office?
No matter how she tries, she never finds that middle ground.

What is mum but the smelly worn out old sponge
Incapable of holding back her tears any longer?
The woman who beats herself up for all her mistakes
And wishes she could be that little bit stronger?
The woman who worries, overanalyses and criticises
Not knowing that she’s actually great –
She pushes down the hurt, blocks out the voices
That constantly serve to mock and berate.

You see, mums are incredible
But, alas, they’re mere humans too,
And believe me, they are drowning in their own expectations
So they certainly don’t need more added by you.
Every mother out there who loves their kids
Is undoubtedly doing her best,
So with that in mind, leave callousness behind
and let’s give this whole judgemental lark a rest.

Because mothers will never be perfect
(as much as this pains me to say)
but how they perform in their duties
will be down to society at the end of the day.
So let’s not put mums on a pedestal
Where they will feel isolated and alone –
And instead listen, encourage, support and love each other
Whether it’s over coffee, WhatsApp or a natter on the phone.

What is mum?
Only what we allow
Mum to become.

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Ten Years On

 

Ten years on,
and how should I feel
other than numb,
Dumb
Lost for words?
I remember that day
It prickles the soul –
The ringing of an office phone
The air was as grey as a gravestone.
A vital organ
Viciously removed
Left me gasping for air.
It didn’t seem fair –
Sure hadn’t we just spoken
A few days before?
It couldn’t be right
And try as I might
I just couldn’t believe
You were
Dead –
Taken by the angels, they said
As this somehow made it okay
That you wouldn’t awaken to see the next day.

Ten years on, and my heart still stops
When Carly Simon is piping through the shops.
A whiff of Samsara, the taste of a good stew
Deceives my mind into looking for you.
and I know after ten years things tend to look rosy
when in fact we both know that things weren’t always cosy
Between us. But I have learned
to abandon that baggage in the lost and found –
It can get very heavy carrying it around.

Ten years on
And I struggle with survivor’s guilt and what-ifs
The empty chair in the corner of my eye
As I slipped on the gold ring
and cooed over the bassinet.
You left when I wanted more:
one more day, one more meal, one more moment.
The anger reverberated through my bones
Resenting you seemed the easiest option
(the right thing is never the easy thing).

Ten years on, and sorrow visits automatically
Like a summer tourist on a return booking.
And I don’t want to feel anything.
My bruised heart clams up, recovering
From past wounds. Time heals
and steals
precious moments.
You are the archetypal mother-in-law,
the doting nana,
The headcase ringing me ten times a day with trivial gossip.
That remains.
Light barges through the fog,
And I hurt:
I remember.

And ten years on
I realise
You can’t be dead
If, within my soul,
You have survived.