Inside "Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth"

Inside "Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth"

Ladies, this is a must read!
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Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Warsan Shire eloquently brings readers into her reality, filled with contradictions and conflict, and inspires others to do the same with their story.

"Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth" by Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire captures the story of every woman. From yearning to self-identity and all those in between, she lays out the path for her reader to expel her demons and find redemption. Though the title might sound audacious, Shire does not mean any disrespect or bear any hatred towards her mother. Shire hopes in telling her mother how to give birth, she will find a greater purpose within herself – she is more than what her religion or ethnicity says she is.

Shire does not spare any details, her voice flies unto the page with raw emotion. In “Your Mother’s First Kiss,” the first line she writes goes “The first boy to ever kiss your mother later raped women when the war broke out.” If she is not writing intriguing first liners, she is wrapping her reader around one of her main themes: feminine virtue or the lack thereof.

In “Beauty," Shire writes about her promiscuous sister, who has an affair with her neighbor’s husband. “It’s 4 a.m and she winks at me, bending over the sink / her small breasts bruised from sucking / she smiles, pops her gun before saying / boys are haram, don’t ever forget that.” Though Shire’s older sister is being loose, she gives her young sister advice on how to keep her innocence (ironically) by telling her that boys are forbidden, but the younger sister pays no mind because everything that leaves her older sister’s mouth “sounds like sex.”

“Birds” finds the reader mulling over the issue of virginity – how sacred men make it seem and how some women hold it in little regard. “Sofia used pigeon blood on her wedding night / next day over the phone, she told me / how her husband smiled when he saw the sheets / that he gathered them under his nose / closed his eyes and dragged his tongue over the stain.” The husband is unaware that he was tricked but he praises her anyway, calling her pure and chaste. Shire shows how important men from her country find chastity to be; even men in the 21st century feel themselves swell with pride when they get to be the first one to deflower their lover.

What Shire does best is understand the identity of the women in her life. The women are bound by the age old order of oppression. In “The Kitchen,” the woman is portrayed as weak, letting her husband have sex with her even when she is knowledgeable about his affair. The wife comes to terms with her husband’s infidelity with “sweet mangoes and sugared lemon / he had forgotten the way you taste / sour dough and cumin / but she cannot make him eat, like you.”

She continues on the next page with “Fire,” which felt like a fitting sequel to “The Kitchen." The woman gets a phone call from her mother that does not seem like something a mother would say. “What do you mean he hit you? / your father hit me all the time / but I never left him / He pays the bills / and he comes home at night / what more do you want?” Shire drives the point home that women in her culture would rather suffer the hand that they are dealt instead of making life better for themselves.

In this collection of poems, men are shameful, deceitful, and downright dirty. “When We Last Saw Your Father” is about a father who is staring at the hospital building, looking at all the lighted windows wondering which one of those rooms bares his mistake. The men hold no significance to Shire, if anything, they are the catalyst of why the women act the way they do. The men make the women disregard themselves and pass onto their daughters that the same must be done if they want to keep a man.

Warsan will do the opposite, as she writes in “In Love and In War." Instead of making sure her daughter fits into societies’ barriers, she says “To my daughter I will say / ‘when the men come, set yourself on fire’." Much like the woman did in the “Fire” poem, Warsan Shire wants her daughter to kill herself first before she lets a man take advantage of her. For Shire, that is the bigger lesson to be taught, the lesson that her mother could never understand and teach her own daughter.

Shire paints these traumatic and sensual experiences for the reader with finesse and vigor. This is not just her story; this is the story of others who will forever be in silence. Warsan Shire describes herself as a female activist; to her, it is important to nurture a young woman into being strong about her beliefs and herself. She wrote this book for those that do not have that mother, aunt, or sister in their lives telling them to be great without apology.

Cover Image Credit: toallthebooksivereadbefore.wordpress.com

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15 Texts We'd Get From Dogs If They Had Thumbs

"If you're reading this, send Milk Bones."
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Let's be real, anyone who has a dog knows that it if we could, we would text our dogs all day long. If they could text us, our thread would look something like...

1. "Are you coming home soon?! Let's go out!"

2. "So not to be weird... but you never ended up answering me last night... Am I the good boy? Idk I just want to be clear on our relationship I don't want to be lead on if I'm not."

3. "The cat is being such a bit** I literally can't stand her"

4. "Hey, just wondering, are you going to wear those black booties tonight? If you are, I'll chew the zipper out of the brown ones instead."

5. "Okay, so don't freak out, but something not so chill happened on the rug..."

6. "Are there any leftovers in the trash? I'm not gonna get into it, I was just curious. Love u."

7. "If you're reading this... bring Milk Bones."

8. "Hey, what's for dinner tonight?! Purina again?"

9. "Miss you!!"

10. "Are you gonna eat that food on the counter or is that for everyone? Asking for the cat."

11. "I LOVE YOU"

12. "OMG, I can't wait for you to come home on break! Can you sleep in the guest room tho? Mom said I could have your room when you moved out. Love u!"

13. "Ice cream date later?!"

14. "We should go for a walk I need to get my ass back in shape for summer. You should be my workout buddy!"

15. "Netflix and chill tonight?"

Cover Image Credit: Salon

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What Your Favorite Thanksgiving Food Says About You

What Thanksgiving food is your favorite?

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As Thanksgiving is fast approaching and family members start rolling with loads of food in tow, figure out what your favorite Thanksgiving food says about you.

1. The Turkey

Thanksgiving Oven Roasted Turkey photo by Alison Marras (@foodbymars) on Unsplash

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You are a traditionalist, you are dependable as well as patient. You depend on your dish to be there and you are patient as others argue over dark to light as you know there will be plenty to go around after the mad rush is over.

2. The Stuffing

The Grains of Life Holiday Treat photo by Chelsea shapouri (@thegrainsoflife) on Unsplash

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You are the warm and fuzzy type, you enjoy the coziest of all dishes which can sometimes leave you emotionally exhausted. You believe in true love and if you haven't found it you are still probably looking for that missing Turkey in your life.

3. The Mash Potatoes 

Potato, pattern, shadow and light HD photo by Lars Blankers (@lmablankers) on Unsplash

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While some will consider you basic and they aren't wrong in thinking so but you do occasionally add some spice to your daily planned out routine. The pondering question of to add gray or to not does add a little mix into your life.

4. The Rolls

Yeast buns with jam photo by Monika Grabkowska (@moniqa) on Unsplash

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You enjoy the simple things in life, even the simplest of things bring you great joy and happiness. Fall is full of the little things that make you happy the color changing of leaves, the giggle of a baby at your family gathering, fall is a wonderful time for you.

5. The Cranberry Dish

Rustic Cranberry Pie photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian (@foodess) on Unsplash

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You are sweet and sassy, when life becomes tart you sugar coat your problems in a way that keeps you from having to deal with them directly. So as the weather begins to get icy think about meeting your problems head on!

6. The Vegetable 

Plate of vegetables photo by Joyce (@squarebowls) on Unsplash

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You are conscious, you feel the holidays are no reason to get crazy and forget all about your healthy eating. You gladly signed up for this year's turkey trot because getting healthy is always a conscious choice!

7. The Pie

Pie, pumpkin pie, slice and plate HD photo by Element5 Digital (@element5digital) on Unsplash

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You are quite the rebel whether you show it or keep it in the inside you know you want your dessert first! You enjoy having fun and don't feel like waiting around to have your pie and eat it, too.

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