Manifesto for Mothers

Manifesto for Mothers Oppressed by Sexism, Male Domination, Racism, Ageism, Classism, Their Own Darling Children & (of course) Other Mothers

By Nadia Martinez Chantry

To begin:

I am so oppressed I can no longer even dream

No, I cannot.

So this – this soliloquy for you all is shit.

It’s not filled with little gems of wisdom. It’s not humorous. It’s not even (fake) tear worthy.

It just is.

Because I can’t even begin to imagine how to edit my thoughts into a cohesive fusion of power.


And I could say I’m drowning but really I hear drowning is the way to go because the body ends up acting so calm – you just kind of float, silently and subtlety away.


I’m really on fire.

Like a witch at the stake.

Screaming, howling

with blisters on my feet and on my breasts

And all I need is someone to believe me

Just fucking believe me!

Believe that I need help

Believe that I am suffering

Believe that I am telling truth –

every moment

every breath

No, I really can’t feed my children.

No, I really can’t love them every fucking moment of every goddamn day.

No, I really can’t kick them until they pass out.

No, I really can’t stand to touch them most days.

No, I really can’t remember the last time I peed alone.

No, this really isn’t me but it’s what I’m thinking and I no longer have access to reality, to a solid foundation and all I hear day in and night out are the screams, the wailings, the pleadings, the whining, and soon I no longer even recognize the laughter or the joy or the precious little hands and all I hear are the voices. The voices that lead to vans in rivers, husbands asking why, grandparents terribly confused.

And alone.


Then a hint of strength emerges and I realize:

It’s not the voices


It’s the Oppression.


The unrelenting needs

of three young, inexperienced yet hungry, demanding souls

The exhaustion

from tortured sleep;

two hour stretch, four hours, one hour, three hours

finally six hours in a row! Yes! Wait! Panic! Fuck! Who died? Who isn’t breathing?!

And you reach out to gently rest your palm on their soft round bellies, willing them to fucking inhale…

Inhale, dammit. INHALE!

and then you withdraw

Who cares if they’re dead…?

Then you’ll get sleep!

Maybe get a chance to read a novel. Shower. Watch a trilogy.

And then you shake them awake –

sickened by your selfish desires

a dead baby

Who rejoices over a dead baby?!


And then the Oppression continues

and you’re pissed.

Ticked off at you

because you chose to wake them up


And the burning continues


I am not a witch.

I speak truth.


I speak blasphemy.

I have forsaken all gods

& worship only the sun

and revere females for the warriors we are.



Breath by breath

Curve into curve

Belly fat into thigh strength into foundation feet


All I want is to write a love sonnet to all of us –

us mothers


The ones who conceived in ignorance, the ones who lost fetuses, the ones who carefully planned & ate organically before sperm reached ovum, the ones who lost air-breathing children, the ones who wish that they could wander deep into the forest and lose their own children so their house would no longer smell of urine, cheap wine and mud.


a love sonnet


Because we are the ones

creating, growing, birthing

planning, teaching, loving

singing, dancing, humming

washing, feeding, nurturing,

kneading, massaging, bathing, cleaning,

holding, rubbing, soothing

kissing, licking, playing, carrying

picking up

setting down




Fucking. Working.


And I’m still burning


And we watch each other burn

Women burning other women

Mothers burning mothers


All part and parcel of the Oppressive System

We don’t even need men any more

We are hurting each other

We are squashing each other’s dreams

We are competing

As if love was a finite resource

As if compassion would stop flowing from our mouths and hands

As if smiles cost us $5 a piece


We have been denied our opportunity

to fight

to struggle

to win

to lose

and then to heal

Instead we are discouraged



Our Strength

Our Intelligence

Our Bodies’ Power & Beauty




Throw out the articles & books.

Stop listening to your mother.

Stop listening to your friends, to your partner, to strangers.

Stop listening to me.


Start listening to you.

And not damaged, hurt, broken, doubted you


Listen to YOU


YOU: The Fearless Tiny Human

who learned to walk even though you fell hundreds, if not thousands, of times

who destroyed towers and then learned to build, to design, to create entire worlds

who created works of art treasured simply because YOU created them


Now’s the time!

Stop Listening to Your Mother

Start Listening to You


Start believing

start screaming

start destroying

and then

start playing

start creating

No one needs to tell you

No one needs to show you

No one needs to give you permission.


And the next time someone looks at you

– your stained t-shirt, your hastily pulled back hair, your muddy sneakers

and you reply, “I’m a mother.”

Don’t shrug your shoulders in apology

Don’t plead with your eyes for them to accept you, to commiserate with you


Stand taller, chin up.

Not like a president or a CEO.

Not even like a queen.


And demand:

“I am a mother!”


I am keeping my soul


I refuse to suffer

I refuse to see doubt

I refuse to fuel the fire


I am choosing MYSELF first

(and my children second)

Because if I don’t teach them how valuable I am….

who will?


Nadia Martinez Chantry is a writer living in Portland, Oregon.


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