My mother said

She would not help me

If I went back to work

After my daughter was born

So I stayed at home.

I tried to be the best mother I could be.

Not just good enough, but better.

The first five years, she said,

Were the most important

And she was a children’s nurse

And a midwife and a health visitor

So she knew best.

Then my second daughter was born.

The winter was damp and dark

And long and horrible,

Being the best mother I could be.

I was tired.

I sat on the hearth and

I asked her for help,

But she said she couldn’t help

So I hired a nurse

And we got through it.

And then she died

No warning, just one night.

All alone.

“She’s gone”, Dad said

And that was it.

We hardly mentioned her again.

I felt liberated –

Not immediately, but later –

And guilty for feeling that.