She Never Wanted Us To Call Her Mother

For my Mom, Brenda Woodard, who always took the time to be Mom. She never rushed a day of my childhood, not even for her own convenience. My sister and I are so very grateful for her.

I’ve not written a Mother’s Day poem in twenty-some-odd years, but Moms really should know how much we love them – even if it comes out cheesy.


She Never Wanted Us To Call Her Mother

She said when she was a kid she’d heard some hellion holler
it out with hatred and she could never get over the tone
in the child’s voice. Mom, Momma, she said we could even
call her Brenda; just not to ever pair our sullen venom
with the word Mother, most especially if we were really angry.
She never let us go to bed so ill-tempered, though. It was a rule
in our house: we always talked about why we were upset
and we were to apologize even if we were not in the wrong.
Swallowing the blame, she taught us, was better than letting
the anger burrow in our thoughts. We saw her temper on occasion;
it only flared when she was being protective over us girls.
Momma was a hellcat and let us learn it’s okay to lose control–
in the right moments. She never lost it with us; not once
do I recall her hand striking me for my wrongs. Yet, I’m sure
she’d have torn through an army to fight for me.

          Every child ought to feel that safe.

I’m sure she had faults, but I never knew of them
when I was a kid. To my sister and me, she’s the woman
who made us fish-sticks and french fries for lunch, if that
was what we wanted, and then helped us make mud-pie dessert
in the yard. She’s the woman who would sneak Bandit in,
so we could take a nap snuggled up next to our dog and grasp
the meaning of friendship. She’s the woman who held my hand
if I was scared, and rubbed my back so I could fall asleep.
She’s the woman who convinced my sister and me that anyone
who was mean to us was only envious of our brown eyes.
In my thirtieth year, I still catch myself wearing black eyeliner
when I need an extra jolt of confidence. I can look in the mirror,
and see my Momma’s eyes staring back at me. In those moments,
I know that I’ve been taught to handle most anything.