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Parenting, Reviews

Some beautiful poetry on mothering & breastfeeding (and a giveaway)

20 May, 2014

I’ve sort of given up on pithy titles for my posts, can you tell? After a gnarly couple of posts on the blog (with some incredible discussion in the comments – do read them! And thank you for joining in with such honesty and with such open hearts…) I felt like today would be a perfect day for four beautiful poems on mothering and womanhood. They are penned by the brilliant poet Cathy Bryant in her new book Look At All the Women. There are poems on love to make you fall in love again, funny ones (Wonder Woman hitting menopause made me laugh out loud) and stirring, political ones (she takes on the Bedroom Tax and climate change in one chapter.)  I was always going to be drawn to the poetry on breastfeeding though, eh?

At Last
She feeds her baby
and it is the first loving touch
she has ever felt
in her bruised and battered life.
She strengthens and nourishes
her little one,
and introduces him to love and trust
and he does the same for her.
He thrives, and so does she,
for the first time;
for the first time, and forever.

Poetry on motherhood

Hard to believe now
that we are such separate beings —
you a great strapping
toddler of three, all-knowing,
I a hopeful extemporising
Thankfully, when you were born
and we parted for the first time,
we kept that close touch.
Feeding fed us both
with love and care
and slowly, only when ready,
you drew away to other
sources of nourishment.
But the everyday miracle
is still there in my memory
of the closeness between us
and of us and in us
and the sweetest, most gentle
bonds are unbreakable.

Poetry on Motherhood

Child and the Future
Little one, your hurts, though deep, are fleeting.
You always hope for better, tomorrow.
Not like me, too knowing, slug heart beating
while yours pounds swiftly in joy or sorrow.
As the doors of dreams slam finally shut
and knee grazes become heart’s dragging wounds,
one copes with haircut, pay cut, paper cut;
music no longer magic, just nice sounds.
It’s not all bad. You keep some illusions.
The drawn-out years become flashing seasons.
You can smile at popular delusions
and settle with your comfortable reasons.
Yet, child of mine, keep hope for better things.
Innocence should shape what the future brings.

Poetry on Motherhood

Look At All The Women
Look at that woman breastfeeding in public!
I think it’s absolutely disgusting

the way people give her a hard time.

Look at that lass in a minidress!
Whore! Slag! Bitch! Slut!

are just some of the things she’ll be called
by prejudiced strangers.

Look at that grandmother!
A lot of support is needed

from her for all her friends and relatives,
but she still finds time to lead a vibrant, balanced life.

Look at that campaigner!
She should get to the kitchen,

have a glass of wine and put her feet up,
later on, after standing up for us all.

Look at that woman writer!
It’ll be all flowers, dresses and chocolates

at her many literary award ceremonies.

Look at that sister!
She’s arguing with her siblings again

which, done with affection and a willingness
to compromise, is a really useful life skill.

Look at that stay-at-home mother!
She doesn’t work, of course

apart from 24 hours a day, seven days a week
doing one of the most important jobs there is.

Look at that woman scientist!
She’s outside her natural environment

analysing soil samples from the planet Mars.

Look at me!
Ill and unable to work again

but still making people laugh, and still giving
the best hugs in Manchester.

Look at that cleaner!
The lowest of the low

will sneer at her, as she makes our lives pleasanter
for a pittance.

Look at that daughter!
Disappointing, really

that she still has so much sexism to face.

Look at that lesbian!
You can tell what she needs

— equality, and recognition of
her voice that enriches us all.

Look at that schoolgirl!
They shouldn’t be educated

differently from boys.

Look at all the women!

What a waste of time

life would be without them.

The publishers, Mother’s Milk Books, would like to send a paperback version of Look At All The Women to a reader somewhere in the world. Simply leave a comment to be entered. I’ll draw the winner of the giveaway at random at 9pm June 9th. I’ll redraw two days later if I don’t get a response to my email. 


Avocados get pointed: On parents and making judgements

3 July, 2013

Not me at you, reader. I love you. I’d never point anything at you let alone an avocado.

But you know who I pointed my avocado at recently? The mum whose little girl was having a whale of a time on the swings at the park who got so annoyed with the kiddo’s wriggling and giggling that she yelled “IF YOU DON’T STOP PLAYING GAMES WE’RE GOING HOME!”. I chuckled mirthfully (“Games! At the park! Ha!”) then pointed my avocado.

Huh? You are going to make me explain all these references to my berry gesturing? (It’s true- an avocado is a berry. The Internet: blowing your mind since sometime in the nineties.)

This brilliant article Glennon Melton wrote on judgemental parents went viral on Monday and it is pretty clear that “avocado pointing” is now the new “judging.” I loved the article, it made me laugh and love wise dads and the world. I found it liberating- YES! It’s true! Thinking everyone is judging you IS meglomaniacal! Of course they aren’t!

I moved around on a Cloud of Feel Good for a few hours, floating right along to the park where I heard the mum and daughter interaction on the swing and fell off into a Puddle of Judge.

My thoughts- along the lines of “Blimey, if you can’t play games at the park where can you?! Poor kid, I wonder if she just gets bawled out constantly”- were uninvited and I worked hard to replace them with more gracious ones such as “I bet that mother’s having a tough day.” and “Ha, it is a bit like that time yesterday when Ramona wanted to dawdle home, and I, er, REALLY didn’t”.

But you know what? I did judge, and I do judge and I KNOW people judge me. Hello, I pull out some of the most strange parenting practices ever. People are DEFINITELY rolling their eyes and thinking I’m crackerjacks.

Hey, here’s a picture of last night’s delicious walk around the park. People probably weren’t judging me then. If they noticed us and DID judge it was a good kind of judgeyness. We were playing in the meadows, picking daisys, having fun.  Judgemental Parents

And then this happened:

pebble up nose

A sharp edged, little stone, the perfect fit for Ramona’s nostril.

And sure as the sun rises people were thinking what in the name is that mum doing to that child at a time WELL past bedtime, binding her hands tight, lying her down on that bench, probing around in her nose while that poor, POOR, toddler weeps and wails?!

And if they weren’t judging me then, well, they would if they had heard what I said a few moments earlier when Ramona showed me the pebble and showed me how perfectly it fitted. I couldn’t help myself, I was in a fabulous mood, high on life, I jovially exclaimed “Wahey, it’s the perfect fit!”  And in it went.

Right in, poked sooo far up. Truly, the perfect fit.

(Thank goodness for our wonderful friend who lives around the corner who is a paediatric A and E nurse. She showed us the Mothers Kiss – get that trick under your belt, parents.  Yes. The name is a little sexist. )

Sometimes we make mistakes. We have hard, tired days. We have days when we are rubbish and sweary.

Sometimes we make decisions that others don’t choose to make. People have different preferences and values and circumstances that require another choice.

Sometimes we live in a way that provokes curiousity and comment. Parenting or lifestyles that seem strange or just too different for people to handle.

All of these things do mean that people will judge. They’ll see something, weigh it up, and make a call about how they feel about it.

Of course, it’d be amazing if every initial judgement was followed up with an internal discussion about how that person is just trying their very best. We should all try and do that, as the world would be more beautiful.

Why do I feel the need to write this post? To encourage others to step off the cloud of Feel Good? I guess for two reasons;

The world probably does feel less heavy if you just pretend people aren’t judging. But it’s a much deeper liberation if you can acknowledge that you might be getting judged and still feel okay about your decisions.  When it comes to parenting, people need to think about what path is right for their family, and deliberately go for it, and be proud of it, and find a community of other’s doing it that way who can support you when criticism strikes. When you get a feeling of being judged,  those raised eyebrows or brazen remarks, you can stand tall knowing you’ve made the choices best for you.

Then I also think that the process of judging helps us figure all of that stuff out. Finding someone’s response to something weird has made me think about what I would do in that situation, and I’ve been ready for it. It’s also helped me understand my own instincts and value certain choices. And, you know what, conversations with people that have begun as a “I wouldn’t do THAT” have led me to come round to their way a little, to concede and feel okay about trying something out. (An example of this for me involves the Pikler/ RIE Freedom of Movement for babies thing- being so on board with The Continuum Concept I couldn’t understand the need to keep putting babies flat on their backs- they should be 100% of the time tucked up with their mamas! Now Juno has a little bit of time lying down, with me right there, and quite enjoys it. Yesterday she even went to sleep like it! YEAH I KNOW! Without a mammary gland IN SIGHT!)

So. Point your avo at me. I can handle it. I’ve made my bed and I’m lying in it. (Not literally. But crumbs, it is where I want to be right now. I love my bed.)   And if this helps you figure out your own way then grand. And if you can learn from my errors – you all know EXACTLY how not to respond when your kid is holding a tiny object up to their nostril hey?- then perfect.

Would love, really would love,  to hear your thoughts….

Pssst- I have a new youtube channel!