a woman’s life had rules

sepia photo of my elegant mother

my mother as a young woman

A woman’s life had rules
when I was growing up,
rules about silence, propriety
in its many guises;

masks, false smiles, pretended
enthusiasm for male ego
being a good listener and always
maintaining silent approbation.

Those rules were cast in iron
and wrapped in a death grip ’round
heart and mind, restricting
blood to brain or any thought
of what  I might be, want, or do.

So it never occurred to me
to breathe into my heart,
question, create my own line
of boundary or defense – never thought
I had the power to say ‘NO!’
‘I’d really rather not,’ or

‘what about me?’

Those rules so silently slipped
from mother’s mouth to daughter’s duty,
silent words demanding silence –
there were of course other rules;
but as someone for whom words
are key, I found myself slow
to dismantle
that mother tongue
that tore speech from me
and sent it into oblivion.


Daily Post: Power, Rules

8 thoughts on “a woman’s life had rules

  1. Dear Sarah, What a powerful piece, it goes to the heart of what many women still experience even in these times. Thanks for putting it out there, I can see using in my practice if that is ok with you. Love, Phil

    • Really? I’d love to know how you would/plan to ‘use it.’ And of course – with proper attribution!!Sounds like you might like to see the entire manuscript . . . Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Wonderful writing that had me nodding my head all the way through. I’m trying to avoid this mother-daughter process with Little My (my ten-year-old). She’ll probably have hang-ups about her mother having drilled independence and self-respect into her instead 😀

    • Isn’t it wonderful, MM? No matter what we do or don’t do, there’s going to be something to complain about. I really appreciate your comment. This is part of a collection I’ve been working on for a l-o-n-g time and for possibly obvious reasons, a tad, um, uneasy about putting forth. You give me heart that my stories may be universal enough to ‘work’ out there . . . As for your Little Me: nothing wrong with independence and self-respect! Especially offered with open-heartedness and deep listening ears. It sounds like you’re both doing well. Dance on!

  3. Pingback: Daily Prompt: You’ve got the Power | A Fanatic Novice

  4. A deeply personal piece that moves me to my core. The photograph adds another powerful dimension to the post.

  5. Pingback: Take The Power And Shove It | The Jittery Goat

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