Welcome to the ‘Look At All The Women’ Carnival: Week 1 – ‘The Lovers’
This post was written especially for inclusion in the three-week-long ‘Look At All The Women’ carnival, hosted by Mother’s Milk Books, to celebrate the launch of Cathy Bryant’s new book ‘Look At All The Women’. This week our participants share their thoughts on the theme ‘The Lovers’ (the first chapter in Cathy’s poetry collection).
Please read to the end of the post for a full list of carnival participants.
The Walnut Hearts
And this is what I found within
the hard and secret shell:
two walnut hearts, identical
in substance, texture, taste.
They were as one, now cleaved in two;
their flesh exposed to air.
They wither, dry; time makes them weak,
their shells begin to crack.
And what of us, my lover, friend?
We must expect the same.
We live, we love, we age, we die;
yet still our hearts are twinned.
I’m not a big fan of ‘forever’ and ‘always’ and the idea that there is only one ‘right’ person for each person on this Earth, but when I wrote the above poem I felt it was right to include a line about ‘twinned’ hearts. My husband and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage tomorrow so I can’t help but maybe add a touch of sentimentality to this post! My point is that by being together for 17 years (we were a couple for 7 years before we got married) we kind of are twinned – in the sense that we sometimes seem to read each other’s minds, and that whatever happens in the future, history will twin us. If our children go on to have children, and they go on to have children, we will be in their family tree – our names ‘forever’ beside each other. Separate, but together.
What strikes me about wedding anniversaries is how I often think about them in connection to the local news. Local newspapers often carry stories about couples who are celebrating their ruby or diamond wedding anniversary, and it’s a rare chance to congratulate these couples on the longevity of their relationship and to ask them what the secret of their wedded bliss is. Sometimes the answer given is: “Doing things together – having similar interests and hobbies”. Sometimes the answer is: “Laughing together” or perhaps: “Being able to compromise”. Undoubtedly these things are important – and hopefully there as a solid foundation to the relationship right from the start, but surely good communication has to be key to the growth and harmony of a relationship?
Becoming parents has certainly changed our relationship. How could it not? In her book What Mothers Do, Naomi Stadlen writes:
A two-person relationship is radically different from one of three people. A two-person relationship has a kind of elegant symmetry, whereas this three-person one is complex. It is not symmetrical. The two parents have a biological relationship with their child, but a consensual relationship with each other… …Additional children increase the complexity, but the change is not as great as the two-into-three change. This doesn’t necessarily drive a ‘wedge’ into the marriage. But it certainly changes it.
This change can be challenging, but clear communication can make all the difference. Talking, and really listening to the other person can help such a lot. Some days, for us, it goes like this:
After a long day of mothering all I want is a cup of tea and to be able to discuss my day with my husband. After a long day of working at a demanding job all my husband wants is a cup of tea and some quiet time. After a long day full of excitement, and discovery and play, all our children want is to talk to us! We used to snap at each other at the end of the ‘work’ day, which left all of us feeling unhappy. This snapping, though unwelcome, at least allowed us to realise that this time was an ‘emotional hotspot’. It took clear communication and a bit of creativity to help us get to a place where ‘daddy home time’ is now no longer so fraught!
Family life is busy. Sometimes conversations between my husband and I consist of five minutes of talking about bills before we go to bed. And yet family life is also fluid – we can often snatch moments when our children play together happily to have a hug and to ask each other that all-important question: “How are you?”. “Fine,” I might say. (More often it’s “Tired!”) But the other day it was “Fine. Looking forward to going out for lunch on our anniversary.”
Look At All The Women is now available to buy from:
The Mother’s Milk Bookshop (as a paperback and PDF) – we can ship books around the world!
and as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk.
It can also be ordered via your local bookshop.
If you’d like to get involved in the ‘Look At All The Women’ carnival please find more details about it here:
Please take the time to read and comment on the following fab posts submitted by some wonderful women:
‘Fantasy, love and oddity.’ — Cathy Bryant, guest posting at Mother’s Milk Books, shares two of her favourite poems about lovers from her second collection of poetry, Look At All The Women.
‘The Walnut Hearts’ — Marija Smits shares some ‘nutty’ poetry about love and reflects on the role good communication has on a harmonious relationship.
Georgie St Clair shares her feelings on why we should indulge our passions as lovers in her lighthearted post — ‘Creative Lovers: Not Tonight Darling’.
‘The Lovers – Or What I Don’t Know About Love’ — Kimberly Jamison posts to her blog The Book Word what she has learnt about love from story books, people watching and her own life and wonders if she actually knows anything at all.
‘Implicit v Explicit’ — Ana Salote at Colouring Outside the Lines considers literature’s role in teaching children about relationships.