The Feigned Calmness of the Broken-Hearted Mother

She looks calm –

From the outside, the broken-hearted mother looks like any other mother.

Like any other woman.

But do not let appearances fool you.

She is like a swan –

The broken-hearted mother may look placid, calm, serene, but underneath she is working hard, so very hard: to keep afloat, to keep going.

Usually against the tide.

She is exhausted,

The broken-hearted mother.

Paddling against the tide will wear you out. Sooner or later.

So while she appears calm – on the outside

A storm rages within.

Finding strength to get up every day, carry on, find joy in life, to move forward, to not let tragedy define you in a negative way, to not be bitter.

Life is unfair, so very unfair.

She might look calm –

The empty-armed mother

From the outside, well kempt, hair done, time to get things done.

Calmness is coping. Coping is calmness: ‘it is what it is’, as much as you wish it was otherwise, you know that cannot be.

She wishes she did not have to be calm –

On the outside.

For life to be anything but calm.

For life to be full of caring for her baby: playing, feeds, nappies, getting up in the night.

No time to get things done. Hair a mess.

She may look calm.

But look closer.

The tell-tale sign?

The sadness in her eyes.


And then the fun began...

26 thoughts on “The Feigned Calmness of the Broken-Hearted Mother

  1. Rosemary says:

    This poem struck such a cord for me as my son Malcolm died on 21st May 2011 of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 34. The swan image is so true although I worry sometimes that people might think that ‘I am over it’ because I am doing my best to ‘be normal and calm’ although it is such hard work especially around the anniversary and his birthday 1st of June. Writing this comment has been tough enough so I really admire your courage in setting up this blog and reaching out to other mothers in this way. Please accept my best wishes.


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss of your son Malcolm. I understand what you mean about worrying about people thinking I am ‘over it’, when you are not at all, just trying to function. Thank you for commenting. Take care xxx


  2. thenthefunbegan says:

    Ah. Beautiful and poignant Leigh. I think you express so well what so many out there must be feeling and the rest of us would never know if we passed you unawares in the street. Keep strong Xx #thetruthabout


  3. Astrid says:

    Oh wow, this is so beautiful! I am not a broken-hearted mother, but to some extent, I can relate. It is so important ot look beyond immediate appearances. #theprompt


  4. sophieblovett says:

    A beautiful and heartbreaking poem. It is so, so important to be kind to people. None of us really has any idea what is going on beneath the surface of each others’ realities. The swan analogy is just perfect xx


  5. mummyshambles says:

    Heartbreaking but again, so beautifully written, Leigh!
    They say the eyes are the gateway to the soul and I agree with that…sometimes a person’s smiling but the more observant will notice that it doesn’t quite reach the eyes…
    Big hugs X


  6. Louise says:

    So beautifully written. I am sure that outward calmness hides a huge whirlwind of emotions. So true that you can’t go by appearance and that there is often so much more beneath the surface than people realise x


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