Five minutes with…Temper-Mental MissElayneous

Each week, we ask a daughter to give us an insight into their relationship with their mother. This week, we sat down with Elayne Harrington aka, Temper-Mental MissElayneous.

The Daughterhood - Temper-Mental MissElayneousList three things you do with your mother.

Reflect. We reminisce on the times she would take me to work with her because there was little or no childcare available (ironically, I accompanied her to Labour meetings where she herself was fighting for such rights). She made many a statement with my presence. I was important and she made me see that.

Discuss. We get into discussions about the tangible and the abstract; topics like the practicalities of feminism and the subtleties of misogyny. We converse on the exploitative and discriminating aspects of, what we, as two women from different generations, witness and experience socially. She wants to know my views in the context of modern feminism, although, I more than often refer to her own original teachings.

Resolve. We support each other in a variety of ways. She is consistent even when I am not and I practice consistency even when she ‘fails’ to. We have mutual respect and love for each other; loyalty and honour are necessary attributes that our connection bears. We have an egalitarian relationship. We like it, it works. We resolve any soreness aggravated by bonds that can cause friction and pinch. We seem to use them to evolve and reach understanding.

What characteristics do you share with your mother?

Fire – Phil is a hard worker, good at negotiating and at getting things done. She’s great in crises and has ambition and firmness. I didn’t lick that off a stone, as her father, my grandad would say. This is reflected in my creative and community endeavours.

Compassion -Tender kindness is in the fibres of my mother’s fabrics. Although it can be promptly charred with that above mentioned asset for the sake of the quality noted below. Another feature that is apparent in how I am with my peers and the young people I teach/guide.

Morality – My ma knows the story when it comes to what is morally right and wrong. She is flexible to change, yet seems to have been born with opinions. I bear this trait also.

What life lesson did your mother teach you?

Mam taught me to forgive always and never to submit. That’s been a fun paradoxical juggle thus far. Fortunately, my father and sisters taught me that there is a difference between submission and forgiveness.

Where do you fall down as a daughter?

I sometimes refer to her as ‘The aul’ dear’ but it’s in remembrance of my paternal grandmother so I know she doesn’t mind. She can comprehend the colloquial endearments of our turf. We were reared in the same working class town. We appreciate our own tongue. As a child, I once spelt ‘phrase’ as ‘fraise’. Surprised, she sternly corrected me (I was usually an excellent speller). I was reminded that her very name contained the same initial sound but did not start with ‘F’. Thanks, Philomena. I called her ‘Phil’ up to 12 years of age (but we really don’t view this as a ‘downfall’, more so unusual.) Same with my father, Paul. Referring to them by their birth names reminded us that they were human beings as well as their roles in the family unit!

How has your relationship changed with your mother over the years?

I was proud that she was my mother. I had patience then I had none. I gained more patience then lost some. I was tolerant and humble. I was impatient and haughty. I was sorry . I took it back. I was doubly sorry. I am proud that she is my mother, I am proud that I am of her flesh, blood and soul.

My mother makes me feel…

The way that warrants poetry to be written on that maternal bond, so I’ll end with this poem I wrote about her in 2007.

She Built Me a Sky

My mother conquered seas of grief.

It filled her days with rain.

She clutched a somewhat frail belief,

She crumbled under pain.

Comprised of words and thoughts and bloods

It seems, like any other.

I don’t deserve – I surely can’t,

This priceless gift – my mother.

She and I; we share one face,

Her details etched more clear.

She buried smiles for miles and miles.

Let mine stretch ear to ear.

When she had childish thoughts like mine, a clean white sheet to fill

She began to build a sky constructed of her will.

Planting all the strongest seeds,

Gladness fills my heart.

This blue sky that you painted allows clouds of my mind to part.