A Prayer for Mothers with Shitty Mothers

 

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A Prayer for Mothers with Shitty Mothers

 

Please protect us from our difficult mothers.

Please protect us from our critical mothers.

Please protect us from our mothers, 

Who seem to have forgotten that 

we are not the worst parts 

of themselves.

 

Please protect me from becoming a difficult mother. 

Please protect me from myself.

 

My mother says

‘I am not sure how to forgive

I am not sure how to forgive somebody

 who is still harming me.’

The harm from a mother is long.

It reaches through lifetimes

generations

comes tangled with love

impossible

impossible 

to separate.

 

Please protect us from the love of our mothers

Please protect us from the love of our mothers

Please protect us from ourselves.

 

This is a prayer for my mother’s mother’s mother, 

Vincenza. 

Poor and exhausted from raising six of her own,

She insisted that her Daughter, 

Rose, 

have the abortion that killed her.

Rose, my grandmother’s favorite,

My grandmother, 

Anna Mariantonetta, 

who grew up without the protection of her sister, until she met 

Angela, 

her brother’s wife, a new sister

Who died from an abortion two weeks before 

they were to leave for America.

This is a prayer for my grandmother, who did not dare,

Who kept her child, kept my mother, 

except for those months

my grandmother was committed, 

Put my mother in boarding school

at age four, then again at age six,

My grandmother

Unmarried, Catholic, 1940s New Jersey. 

They called them nervous breakdowns,

The times she couldn’t drink enough 

to keep her rage contained.

 

This is a prayer for my mother, 

Luciana, 

Or Lucy Ann, for America’s sake,

Though my father’s three sisters still called her a dago.

Alone with three daughters 

while my father had affairs,

My mother aborted her fourth early on

So she could leave him

But after the abortion he stayed home

And started raping me

So she stayed home, too.

 

This is a prayer for the daughter I lost

My father’s daughter

Just after I turned thirteen

My father and his friend, both doctors

Performed the abortion

laughing

While the word ‘mother’ repeated itself in my head

Again and again

til I forgot what it meant.

 

This is a prayer for the mothers who have lost more than I have ever had.

This is a prayer for the mothers who have lost everything and still live on.

This is a prayer for their lives,

May they be filled with love from the ancients,

May they reach out their hands and feel us reaching back.

May they never be alone.

May they never be alone

Again.

 

This is a prayer for me,

That I might someday remember the meaning of the word,

Mother.

That I might someday understand what I am.

 

Even the words I was taught are wrong. 

It is not hold, 

I will not hold your pain.

I will be with you while you feel it

So you can let it go. 

And if you do not learn, I will have to learn, 

and if I do not learn, my children will have to learn, 

generation 

after generation 

after generation. 

I am afraid this refusal to learn 

will live longer than love.

I will not pass it on.

I will find a way,

I will find a way to 

let it go.

 

Here’s to every mother

With a shitty mother

Who embarked on the journey of becoming a mother

Because she thought she knew something her own shitty mother did not.

Here’s to that mother finding out that she was wrong

Here’s to that mother finding out that she was wrong, 

That she doesn’t know more than her own mother did. 

Her own mother knew all of it, 

which takes the sting away for just one minute, 

one solid minute,

til the burn sets in, 

sears her skin, 

Permanent.

Could have done better but didn’t.

It stings and it burns and 

Now I am angry.

My mother knew what I know

She knew what I know,

How hard it is

To be a mother with a shitty mother,

How hard you have to fight

Not to do the same damn thing to your children.

The same fight came for her that’s coming for me

But she gave me up 

to save herself

From feeling shame

From feeling anything

It hurt that much.

 

It was not til I became a mother myself that 

my previously forgiven mother 

became unforgivable

All the work I’d done, 

undone at my daughter’s birth.

 

This fight came for me

And I understand now

How easy it must have been 

for my mother to lie down,

Turn away,

Pretend everything was ok, 

But me, 

I choose.

I choose

back into the fray

Every day.

Every day.

5 thoughts on “A Prayer for Mothers with Shitty Mothers

  1. Beautiful and incredibly accurate. As I’m sure you’ve found, it doesn’t stop at birth- every time your child reaches a milestone associated with a trauma, the rage sears hot all over again.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Like

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