“I will not become my mother.”

One of the podcasts I listen to, Women on the Line ended with this poem recently. And I love everything about it.

Subtext
Maxine Clark

(sung):
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home

(spoken):
When we say, “I don’t want to become my mother,”
that isn’t an invitation to laugh.
Thinking about your mother-in-law.
And maybe the way she talks too loud
Or repeats herself when she gets excited.

Or maybe you hate
that somehow
your children love her
more than they do you.
‘Cause usually men don’t understand
that to their child,
“that woman” is also their mother.
There is no distinction.

If you listen to us,
you would hear that when we say,
“I don’t want to become my mother,”
what we are really saying is
“I want to be like my mother never had the chance to be.”
Or maybe even,
“I want to be like my father never let her be
or even understood she was.”

Listen hard.

Because when we say,
“I will not become my mother,”
What we are really saying is,
“I will leave you
if you buy me a big, square house
in the ‘burbs
and especially if you present it to me
like we’re a match made in heaven.”

We are saying,
“Who are you?”
and
“Do you even know who I am?!”

What we are really saying is,
“As bad a mother as you may think I am for it,
my children
are just my children.
And not my dreams.”

I would’ve been about seven
the first time I saw my mother on stage.
It took me seven years to realize who she was.

When I say, “I will not become my mother,”
What I am really saying is,

“I am my mother’s dreams.
I can’t afford to fail.”

She was our mother,
I loved that, but damn,
this woman!
she could’ve really been something.

When I say, “I will not become my mother,”
What I am saying is,
“I am going to be.
I will be.
I am.
What my mother was.
Before the world and his dog told that girl to stop.”

And I am saying,
“If you love me,
then when I say,
‘I will not become my mother,’
Listen.
and be frickin’ smart about it.”

It’s from this episode (iTunes link; poem at 25:40) and I copied it while listening to it, so apologies to Maxine Clark if the punctuation or line breaks are all kinds of wrong.

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