I was reading this morning about the Repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland that criminalises abortion in all cases except where to continue a pregnancy would result in death. I saw author Louise O'Neill discuss feminism in Ireland and draw a line in history that places the 8th amendment as the direct descendant from the Mother and Baby Homes and the Magdalene Laundries.
Today is Mother's Day and so notions of direct descendancy and the reward for that are rife. Mothers everywhere are being thanked, no, scratch that, 'good' mothers everywhere are being thanked. So much has been written about the deification and the vilification of mothers; there are still television programmes being made that seriously pose the question of whether the blame for the behaviour of psychopathic murders can be laid at the door of their mothers....another lineage of descendancy as fake as the stereotypical 'good' or 'perfect' mother.
I was of course thinking about my own mother and her struggles with the task at hand. I was thinking about friends, who find a strong identification between their own mother and LaVona Gay Harding as recently portrayed in 'I, Tonya'. I was thinking about friends whose mothers died when they were young and whose bereavement left them vulnerable to violence and abuse.
I was thinking about direct descendancy, the nearness of history and how we understand ourselves in relation to both. I was thinking whether a politicised understanding of history can ameliorate the (painful) lived experience.
My mother should never have been one and I think had she been born in a different time, or, had her own direct descendancy been more nurturing, she could have made, would have had the opportunity to make, different choices. So who do I blame, if indeed blame is of any value? Where is the source? Where is the confluence? These questions are unanswerable except I know I cannot lay the blame in totality at my mother's door or on her doorstep (which she polished with Brasso every day). And there's the rub...the personal and the political...she was as much a victim as I was, and it is only the choices of how we manifested that victimhood that are different. I chose not to be a mother and in doing so ended the lineage of abuse within my family. I wish my mother's history had been different and in the writing of that I wish she were with me.
My new play vessel is about all this, about how we hold our history and how our history holds us, about the connections between the personal and the political and, above all, about the radiance of survival. It is the direct descendant of Can I Start Again Please