If mothering is the kind of work that makes all other kinds of work possible why are mothers and grandmothers turning to the media as a last resort to plead for jobs and housing for themselves and their families? Why have we not figured out a way to nourish and support mothers in the work that they do? Why is motherhood often impoverishing? Why do women as group earn less than men as a group (around 18% less in Barbados) and why is motherhood part of the answer? Why have we not figured out work-life balance? And learnt a way to honour the multiple journeys to motherhood? That post-24, pre-35 (heterosexually) married, middle-class, with medical insurance, making more than the national average, able-bodied, sound-of-mind, mythic ideal of appropriate motherhood is a minority experience in the Caribbean. Can’t we honour and support all moms to be the best moms that they can be?
Here’s a poetry playlist that addresses motherhood in all it’s complexity. Happy Mothers’ Day!
1. For all the queer, feminist mothers. & DO YOU SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU by Haitian-American poet Lenelle Moise.
2. For those who have had to bury their mothers. After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down by Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison.
3. For the new moms. Morning Song by American poet Sylvia Plath.
4. Abortions will not let you forget./You remember the children you got that you did not get. Because abortion is part of the multiple experiences of motherhood. The Mother by African-American poet Gwendolyn Brooks.
5. Praise Song for My Mother by Guyanese poet Grace Nichols is a praise song for all mothers who have wished us well on our journeys towards our wide futures because they know they have prepared us well.
6. For daughters. Because the child gives birth to the mother. Poem for a Daughter by British+American poet Anne Stevenson.
7. They fuck you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do. Just keeping it real. This Be The Verse by British poet Philip Larkin.
Tell us your favourite poem about motherhood in the comments below.