On Being a Mother and a Daughter

Expressing the essence of being a mother, a line often comes to mind from my poem, “After You Left” in Letting Go and New Beginnings  (For entire poem see post 37 on 3-29-11 )

I am watching out for you.
Even when I am not watching,
I am watching.”

“Even when I am not watching, I am watching…” Even when I need my own life, I gather my “chicks” now grown, under my wing. I can’t help it. Even if I struggle for balance and need to take better care of myself, if they need me, I want to be there for them.

What is the most important thing we want to teach our children? How do we free them to go out and live their lives fully? How do we transition to a more adult level relationship with our offspring, the foundation for the rest of our lives? How clearly can our children ever see us as real people?

Here is another poem about being a mother.


Upon Returning Home

From birth
letting go

and letting go,
letting go.

If I have taught you anything
let it be this:

Striving, yes

but be generous.
I let you go

and heal from the wound
and then you return

as promised
and gradually I adjust

and trust.
Then you leave

as I know you must
and I am filled with longing and sadness.

Letting go,
letting go

the greatest gift,
not to hold and define and smother,

but to see you writ large
by your own hand.

And I am always
your mother,

not a strange mythological creature
who tames dragons and rides unicorns,

but a woman
of flesh and bone.

Not frozen artistic perfection,
a marble statue unchanging, beautiful,

but a work in progress,
the same as you.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2003

From  Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey

As I wrote before, my mother-in-law, Rae, died in March. It felt very strange this first Mother’s Day without her. I kept thinking to remind my husband to call. It looked like my Mom might also be wrapping up her life, but she is strong in so many ways and she rallied. On Mondays after my voice lesson I call her. We both consciously treasure our wide-ranging conversations—for however long we have. (I sent her tulips.)  Two recent poems about her.


Valentine’s Day Conversation with Mom

Even close to the end,
eyesight failing,
words dropping out of her repertoire,
she looked to the west

over the building tops
from her apartment balcony
appreciating, savoring,
thoroughly enjoying a magnificent sunset,

full of vivid description
of the flaming band of clouds
that spanned the horizon,
filled with the grace of it, the joy.

And even a day later
would see it still in her mind’s eye
and tell her poet daughter
400 miles away, who could then
see it also…and enjoy…and write….

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2011



At some point
often a phone call in the night
and someone you love
is gone. Right now

all I’m saying
is the beginning of the end.
And if I cling to the notion,
the belief, that life is eternal,

still I am aware
it ends in this form
and there will be…soon…
one last hug, one last conversation.

As much as I try
not to think about it,
to be in the moment
where you still are,

still I cry softly
when I consider
you not being here.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2011

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