Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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I come to you from the land of spoons and knives
because forks are for people
who cook for people who have molars
I've got a rubber duck in my purse
and a diaper in my backpack
I am... a Mommy

Mommies are very practical people
trading in the currency of new melting smiles and poop
we are the wombs before every single person in this world
working hard in the original get-no-respect career
to feed, clothe, clean, and wipe the tears from little individuals
whom we ideally love, like, more than really a lot
I know that you've got one
whether you like her or not

we are the sometime Daddyfuckers
'cause you'd think having a baby suck your breasts all day long
would make you constantly hot for sex, but...

we are like nuns plus hags
plus 16 year-old drivers in a car crash

with soft tender kisses to downy heads
and grim determination in the face of screams
round the clock existence, time is continuous,
no longer broken into arbitrary day and night dreams
and for our children we are everything
if we don't shine, the sun don't shine
so shine, Daddyfucker, shine!

as soon as you're visibly pregnant you're in the club
swapping stories of morning sickness and hemorrhoids
and lacy infant clothes that look like doilies

it is a strange transformation
so Mommies bond about ridiculous situations like how
one night one mommy gave her baby some nakietime
just to air out, you know?
and then it got quiet
she found him
with a piece of his own poop in his hand
smacking his lips

oh people tell us we're adorable
"you are the cutest mom"
but we risked life and death
hope and loss and pain's tearing claws
are the price of newborn breath
and for every person on this earth
a mother did this common thing

12 billion times now
the trumpets blared, the crowds roared
and a whole new person met a whole new world
it's almost as if life had this deeper meaning, right?

Moms get so strong
we endure horrible deliveries
miscarriage and babies born dead
and still carry on like goddess soldiers
making war on the dasher of hopes
like we were born for it
like we just drank a nice big glass of omnipotence

so you'll see us obsess over little potties
and sippy cups and shoes
with laser eyebeams burning
we'll assess one million fifty two tiny details
and compress them into a daily to-do list
all just to express the giantness of what we know to be true
it is a mother's sacred duty to do this

this is life washing by like we finally got on the ride
taking on a role
we assumed was solely our own mother's burden
and my mom, she really pisses me off sometimes
her advice sounds like "you suck"
crossed with "I told you so"
and "you'll never be a real grownup"
oh she makes me burn!
but now
it's my turn

Cheryl Maddalena is mother to Andrew aged 19 months. She is almost finished with her doctorate in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and is a frequent competitor at the Berkeley Poetry Slam. If you like to cheer for poets or want folks to cheer for you, find your local poetry slam at

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