Mummy, or Mother’s Day Blues

by Katharine Whitehorn

(after Kipling’s poem “Tommy”)

I went into the kitchen, to get a cup o’ tea,
The boys they stopped their talking, and their eyes all said to me,
“Look, can’t you see we’ve friends in?” and they ‘eaved a pointed sigh.
I climbed the staircase back to bed, an’ to myself sez I:
Oh it’s Mummy this, an’ Mummy that, an’ “Mummy, do you mind!”
But it’s “Mummy, can you help me?” when your boots are hard to find.
“I’ve left my football kit at home, so could you bring it round?”
“Oh thanks, that’s grand – and by the way – you haven’t got a pound… ?”

When kids start on their schooling, those darn teachers know it all –
“Could try harder… Must write neater… keep your eye upon the ball.”
If you should try and teach your kids – “That’s not the way it’s done.”
But you bet they’ll blame his background if the boy goes on the run.
Oh it’s “Mums keep out!” and “Mums don’t fuss!” from teachers that we’ve paid,
But it’s “Thank you, Mrs Atkins,” when they want the lemonade,
The biscuits and the costumes for the fourth form pantomime.
They’re dead keen on us mothers when they want our overtime.

We’re Mums, so we’re the cleaners too, the washers, and the cooks;
And they think that’s all we’re good for once we’ve lost our dolly looks.
My ‘usband doesn’t mind to say I’m just a silly moo,
But he sees it all quite different when he wants my wages too.
Oh it’s “Mum’s too slow,” and “Mum’s too fat,” and “Mum’s a bleeding fool,”
But it’s “Mum could make some money,” once the kids are off to school.
They want us scrubbing saucepans, and they think that’s all we do,
But they call us “Superwoman” when they want our wages too.

We ain’t no superwomen, nor we ain’t no numbskulls too,
But common thinking people, most remarkable like you;
And if sometimes our tempers isn’t all your fancy paints,
Well, women stuck with ‘ousework don’t grow into plaster saints.
The “Mum, come ‘ere!” and “Mum, get lost!” would make you go beserk,
But it’s “Motherhood is precious,” when it’s men that want the work.
It’s washing, and it’s ironing, and it’s food to feed their gobs,
But it’s “sacred task of Motherhood” when men want all the jobs.

You talk o’ better terms for us, playgroups an’ nursery schools,
And think such things will settle it; you must think we’re all fools.
It’s a job without a let-up, an’ just when we think we’re through
We find that we’re expected to “mother” Uncle too.
Oh it’s Mummy this, and Mummy that, and Mummy up and down,
But sailors all call “Mother” when they know they’re goin’ to drown.
We love our kids and lump it, but all we get for pay
Is the thin red bunch o’ roses that you bring on Mothers’ Day!