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We have lived for years in a lower-income area of a large southern USA City, Miami.  It's hard enough when higher income women with children are divorced, abandoned or widowed, but it's cruel indeed in the lower income strata, where it seems to most often take place.  I wrote this free-form poem in 1968 in sympathy with these mothers, many my friends and neighbors, and their disillusionment at a time society was still teetering on the edge of expectations of  stay-at-home full time mothers.

Somebody Should Have Told Me

When I was younger I often read tales of
Large storybook families,
Lots of kids,
Lots of love,
A father who cared deeply about a good home life
And a better world for his children.
Sometimes I still do.

I really think I would have been satisfied
With all that hard work
(and satisfaction )
Trying to make things better
(and doing so)
Dedicating myself to kids, home and husband
(and all that love)
As a real executive housewife-mother
With a strong man who wanted what I did.

Well, when the good things were handed out
I must have been standing behind the door
Along with a huge crowd of friends and neighbors.

Maybe I was sleepwalking,
Dreaming dreams brought on by too many cruel fables
That just won't wash in the the light of

misunderstanding,
food stamps,
being alone,
inflation,
never enough time,
child support,
poor quality merchandise,
medicaid,
things falling apart,
birth control side effects,
child care costs,
low wages,
long days,
exhaustion,

And other realities that should have been written
Somewhere between the lines.

I sometimes wonder......
What harsh author of fairy tales
Has been messing around with our heads?

Copyright, 1968 Bess W. Metcalf

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