Exploring the stories of women who live by a ride-or-die philosophy

[POETRY] Not the Only One’s

“Motherhood” by Nora Heysen

by Chantelle Cressman



we aren’t the only ones who breed

who lust, who feel the need

to be touched

So why are we the ones they turn to

when it’s time to feed

their hungry mouths

to make the house

shine and gleam


Because all the glossy ladies know

how to get their kitchen

organized in 10 easy steps

how to look better NOW

how to dress right for spring

how to raise smarter, happier kids


And if you don’t do it just. like. this.

your child will never

be part of society

your child will be a burden

and you will be 100% responsible

for every unfavourable act

that child visits upon the world

Because if you do anything

that you aren’t supposed to

if you contradict the expert

the paediatrician

the child psychologist

that best-selling book on motherhood

(which was written

by a bachelor)

you will be haunted

by debilitating guilt

when that child

not knowing what is right

because of you

takes that wrong step. and falls.

So above all else mind the contradictions

because they will lead you astray

but don’t you ever ask for help

or you must immediately

without question

relinquish your badge of motherhood

And furthermore,

don’t rely on that man of yours

but for anything he does voluntarily

praise him and thank him

(I would suggest with an

unexpected blow job)

and be grateful he is there for you

Because if you don’t know

how to keep that man

or any other man

clearly you are unlovable

by all of humanity

and even worse so is the child

that you bore for him


we aren’t the only ones

who hear our babies cry

whose nerves split like hairs

at the sound of their windy lungs

So why are we the only ones

who sing their lullabies

who hold back our screams

and when others ask we lie

“I couldn’t ask for more,

I have never been. so.   happy.”

Because if we tell the horror that we feel

at our sometime resentment

for our own helpless offspring

for our lives ripped to shreds

for our breasts stretched and drained

that can never give them enough

What happens then?

I will tell you.


I would rather take the shame

the spiritual stoning from the masses

the blame for wrongs I didn’t do

than be the martyred mother saint

head draped in silky blue cloth

face creamy as a child

wide doe eyes

turned up to an empty sky pleading,



Why the burden of the child

without the pleasure of sex

why this child I didn’t ask for

why visit the sins of the father

upon the child who had no choice

but to be born

the placenta torn away

my blood spilled

my flesh stitched back together

like a second-hand quilt

I didn’t ask for this

I didn’t know about the pain

about the loneliness

of maternal love

I didn’t choose this for myself

I didn’t choose this for my child

I didn’t even want it

and I would rather take the shame

and the blame

and the spiritual stoning

and the disowning by all those happily married mothers

who are obviously so much better than me

than take all the love of all the children

in this world

because the pain is just too much

and I didn’t know that love could hurt like this


we aren’t the only ones

with hearts that break

So why are our souls offered up

for our children’s sake?

ChantelleChantelle Cressman is a French teacher, single mother, and writer who lives in St. Thomas, Ontario with too many cats.  When she isn’t teaching, writing, or mothering, she is running long distances to escape her fears and frustrations and to come up with more writing ideas.

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