Manifesto for Mothers Oppressed by Sexism, Male Domination, Racism, Ageism, Classism, Their Own Darling Children & (of course) Other Mothers
By Nadia Martinez Chantry
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.
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 –
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.
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
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 –
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
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
and then to heal
Instead we are discouraged
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
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.
Like a GODDESS
“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….
Nadia Martinez Chantry is a writer living in Portland, Oregon.