My Mother’s Daughter 

On Mother’s Day I have written this poem in tribute to my late mother  Mary Russell as a thank you for being a better role model than she ever knew. I have given it the title My Mother’s Daughter I hope you enjoy the read. 

My Mother’s Daughter

It happens on  the fourth Sunday of lent 

the date for mothering Sunday never changes 

on this day when we remember our mothers 

with chocolates cards and flowers

we celebrate who they are

 and what they have brought to our lives 

as for me I remember a woman 

with whom I have more in common 

than I would ever have thought 

my mother was a women of her time 

she found it challenging 

that I wanted to be a girl 

and grow up to be a woman like her 

though maybe an updated version 

this was something she couldn’t understand 

convincing herself my identity was just a phrase 

I refuse to blame her 

she worried what her neighbours would say 

I tried to explain wanting to be a girl  

was not the same as being gay 

which she classified as a sin or a waste 

depending on the looks of the man 

a kind heart hidden beneath her apron 

my mother was an amazing cook 

feeding us with with soups, stews, and steak pies 

empty plates never lie 

but show the proof of her skills 

when I asked to help I was told 

cooking was for girls 

boys should play games 

that teach them to be men 

she worried what they would think 

if they ever knew 

her son preferred pink to blue 

liking Donny and the Bay City Rollers 

would have served as a hint to some 

as would my stockpile of Jackie 

and other magazines of the day 

but my mum was content

 to stay in her bubble 

being a trans teen troubled

by the manufactured sense of self 

I was forced to create 

left emotional scars and a bond 

which though fragile was still strong enough to survive 

knowing the truth was no barrier to denial 

as I gained confidence I gradually stepped out 

 in bars, and clubs 

the kind my mother had heard of 

only in stories on TV or in the press 

the fact I went dressed to ‘ these places’ 

only proved I was easily led 

a target for some sex maniac to take to bed 

chance would be a fine thing I suggested 

she should have remembered 

I was her daughter I had her morals 

and wouldn’t do anything I felt to be wrong 

it wasn’t the way I was raised 

Sundays were the post, the roast , and songs of praise 

so it should be no surprise 

that I’m now in the pews on Sunday mornings 

like her friends in the area I grew up in  

though on the fringe of the city 

it had that village mentality 

it was the kind of place 

 where gender and sexuality were never discussed 

eventually we watched the Chippendales together 

though  I blushed when 

 I told her about the first time  I kissed a man

and liked it because it felt right 

I went in to detail about that night 

I confessed that though he was younger than me 

 it was me who made the move 

I didn’t wait to be asked

there was a difference between being nice  and being scared 

I wasn’t prepared to sit back and wait 

being respectable was over rated I claimed 

now no longer ashamed

 I was sharing mother – daughter secrets

though it had taken me  till my forties  do it 

even in private 

publicly she maintained my identity was a phase 

she was scared of what the neighbours would say 

that mattered more to her generation 

than it does to mine 

I remember the night she zipped me 

into my wine tafatta dress

her smile said more than any words ever could 

I was the daughter she knew wanted 

even though she could never admit it 

not even to herself  

it wasn’t her way 

I think of her on mother’s day 

and thank her for meals served with a diet of rules 

most of which I still respect 

I am my mother’s daughter after all 

© Gayle Smith 2017

 

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4 thoughts on “My Mother’s Daughter 

  1. What a lovely and honest tribute to your mother, gayle. She was beautiful inside and out, just like you. You are right, you do take after her. Happy Mother’s Day to her )

    • Thanks Beth it’s fair to say my mum and I had our differences but I think she knew more than she would ever let on. I think the fact that we watched the Chippendales together suggests that we not only had a mother – daughter bond it also hints this bond may have been even stronger than I thought.

      Love And Best Wishes
      Gayle XXX

  2. What a beautiful poem. It sounds like you and your mum had a very special bond, although it’s a shame that there were some things she couldn’t fully accept, probably due to being in the generation she was born in.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this poem. To be honest, it was a poem I was nervous about writing but at the same it needed to be written. My mum was a warm and kind hearted woman and I did love her though it’s fair to say we had our differences particularly on my gender identity. I think this was in part due to the fact she was socially and culturally conservative through ironically from a politically liberal tradition. To be fair to her, I think she was very much a product of the Scotland she grew up in and that shaped her in to the woman she was, I just hope this poem does justice to her memory.

      Best Wishes
      Gayle X

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