This month we're sharing posts by mama-writers as inspiration for our latest creative activity, Book of Mum, (doodling an imaginary book cover for that book you're going to write, one day...).
Our second guest post comes from the lovely Teika Bellamy of Mothers Milk Books, sharing her experience of compiling the words and art of 100+ contributors in her anthology Musings on Mothering; and a wonderful taster of the book from Rachel O'Leary and Lisa Scott below.
High Heels and Lipstick
Clickety-clack, clickety-clack. Must be ten o’clock, there goes Carol from up the road in her high heels, lipstick bright, hair neat, covers on the pram spotless. I twitch the curtain so she can’t see me – still in my dressing-gown, hair all over the place, house covered in laundry – and sit on the stairs to feed the baby… again.
How does she do it? Why can’t I be like that – organized? Am I “coping”? Doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes it’s blissful, when the baby relaxes in my arms and falls asleep at the breast. Often it’s stressful – when she screams and I can’t understand why and don’t know what to do about it…
Somehow, we got through those days, and nights, and sometimes I even made it out of the front door – to a La Leche League meeting on good days! (I was always late, but they didn’t seem to mind).
Years later I met Carol at work, when our children were teenagers. With a wry smile, I told her how I’d been so impressed by her, all those years ago. She chuckled and said, ‘That’s the only way I could stay halfway sane! I was falling to bits at home, I just had to get out of the door, and the high heels and lipstick were to make me feel as if I was “coping” when I wasn’t at all!’
I wished I’d known; we could have had a laugh about it when we needed to. I wish I hadn’t assumed I was the only one drowning in isolation. I wish I’d got to know her better, and allowed her to know me with all my failings. I wish women could help each other more and compete less.
First published in Musings on Mothering (Mother’s Milk Books, 2012).
On the Birth of ‘Musings on Mothering’
By Teika Bellamy
Musings on Mothering came about because I wanted to give something back to the charity that had helped me so much when I was in my first year of motherhood; struggling and sleep-deprived. The Leaders and mothers I met through La Leche League didn’t provide me with a magic cure for my daughter’s night waking; they listened and empathized, which was unusual because up until then virtually everyone else I knew had been giving me advice on how to make my daughter sleep (most of it completely unhelpful!).
I appreciated the support I was given to mother in the way that felt right to me, and found that going to meetings gave me a much-needed soul boost. I was so grateful to all these volunteer mothers and so decided to do some fundraising for the charity that had become so important to me.
I’ve always been a big believer in the power of story, and how relating our stories can set us on a path to empowerment and healing – as well as inspiring others. So, I came up with the title ‘Musings on Mothering’ and set about the task of collecting and then collating approximately 150 pieces of art, prose and poetry from the 100+ contributors on the theme of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Then I turned the pieces into a book. It was a huge task! Yet, I’m incredibly proud of the anthology, and to know that I’ve helped mothers to connect through the book AND raise some money for La Leche League GB is a lovely feeling.
La Leche League is an international charity which provides information and mother-to-mother support and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed.
Emma and Josiah
Photograph by Lisa Scott: www.lisascottphotography.com
Reproduced by permission of Rosie Evans
This image appears in Musings on Mothering (Mother's Milk Books, 2012)
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