The Cold Cup of Tea

Welcome to the ‘Look At All The Women’ Carnival: Week 2 – ‘The Mothers’

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 Mothers’ (the second chapter in Cathy’s poetry collection).


Please read to the end of the post for a full list of carnival participants.



'The Cold Cup of Tea' by Marija Smits

‘The Cold Cup of Tea’ by Marija Smits

The Cold Cup of Tea


An already-cold cup of builder’s-strength tea

is sat by the sink, and saying to me:

“I’m delicious, delightful, so drink me up, do!”

But I’m knee-deep in nappies, and children, and poo;

so call me again when I’ve sorted this mess

and have time to relax, and unwind and de-stress…


Later, much later, when the kids are asleep,

in my nightie and slippers I quietly creep

to the kitchen, and there is that cold cup of tea,

still delicious, still delightful, and still waiting for me…



(This poem was first published in Musings on Mothering, published by Mother’s Milk Books, 2012)


I wrote this poem about two years ago, when my youngest was still in nappies. Back then, every single day was hectic. It seemed as though no sooner had I dealt with one kind of bottom mess I had another one to deal with… The laundry machine seemed to be constantly on, with load after load of terry towels, nappy liners, wraps and body suits. As soon as I had met one child’s needs the other needed me. As soon as one household chore was completed another one needed to be done (and we’re not talking about fancy things like dusting ornaments but real heavy-duty stuff like cleaning very icky toilets!). When my youngest was hungry I could immediately satisfy him with a breast feed. When my eldest was hungry I’d rummage around in the cupboards hoping that some nutritious snack would be readily available to keep her tummy from rumbling. When I longed for a cup of tea and a little break… well, sometimes, I just had to wait until the end of the day when the children were asleep or when their dad (or their wonderful grandmas) could help me out.

It all sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? It was tiring, of course, but looking after two children is tiring (no matter how much support you get, or what your mothering style is) but when I was in the thick of it I had the help of the lovely mothering (and breastfeeding) hormones to keep me going, and going, and going…

Now that my two are older it’s all rather hectic in a different way. Yes, they are independent enough now so that I can (mostly) enjoy a quiet cup of tea when I want to, but the list of ‘other’ essential chores grows: the ferrying to clubs, providing a listening ear for when there are friendship troubles, helping with maths homework.

And alongside all of this are the rest of the never-ending household chores…

I’ve been a mother for 7 years now and it seems ridiculous to say this, but it is only now that I really – and more fully – truly understand the implications of having a child. For this mothering work goes on and on… It will, no doubt, ebb and flow in its intensity but I am in it for the long-haul and more aware – and so better prepared for – its many seasons. It is also now that I feel immensely grateful for all that my own mother has done (and continues to do) for me and my children.

Mothers, what you do is valuable, it is necessary. Go make yourself a cup of tea and take a well-earned break. Better still, get someone else to make you a cup of tea. I hope you get to enjoy it while it’s still hot 😉


Look At All The Women, by Cathy Bryant

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

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:

‘Moments with Mothers and (Imaginary) Daughters’ — Cathy Bryant, guest posting at Mother’s Milk Books, shares more poetry from Look At All The Women — her own version of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ and a poem inspired by her imaginary daughter.

‘The Cold Cup of Tea’Marija Smits shares some poetry that gives a glimpse into the everyday life of a mother.

‘Creative Mothers: You Need to Stop!’Georgie St Clair, shares an important reminder, that all mothers need to dedicate time and space to be creative.

‘The Mothers – Or Promises to My Future Child’ — Kimberly Jamison posts to her blog The Book Word what she has learnt from her own mother, and writes an open letter to her future child.

‘Bonobos are my Heroines’: Ana Salote at Colouring Outside the Lines puts the nature back into nurture.

‘Baby Body Shame: it’s Time to Push Back’ — Stephanie from Beautiful Misbehaviour wants to challenge society’s treatment of the post-birth body.

Helen at Young Middle Age talks about finding strength from thinking about all the other mothers, during hard times.

Rejections, recognitions and reaffirmations…

In the past month I’ve received one rejection of a poem from a magazine editor, one acceptance of a poem by another magazine editor (hurrah!) and two online recognitions of my poetry; one from Baby Wisdom, and one from the blogger Slummy single mummy (as part of her brilliant review of Musings on Mothering).

When I receive a rejection I feel sore, wounded and then baffled… (since each poem is my own precious ‘baby’ – born of my spirit.)

‘But that was my best poem by far!’ I exclaim. Then I think ‘Oh well.’ Grump.

But I accept the rejections because they strengthen my resolve to hone my writing; to make it as good as it can be.

They also help me to reaffirm why I write. I have to write. I love writing and I cannot help but write.

Solar-powered fairy lights in tree

Solar-powered fairy lights in tree

When I won the Swanezine Short Story Competition last year, as well as spending some of the prize money on prosaic things like food, I bought some solar-powered outdoor fairy lights. I thought I could put them in our old apple tree, by my daughter’s little patch of soil and we could make a magical fairy grotto out of it. It’s not quite like that at the moment… but still, when the fairy lights come on in the evening and I catch sight of them, I remember the competition and think ‘ah!’. Big smile. It inspires me to keep on writing; and at the end of the day if — and no doubt when — I receive more rejections I know it doesn’t really matter. Yes, it would be great if I could earn a little money from my poetry to help towards food and bills, but I write because I love to write, and I will have faith that although my style of writing isn’t right for some magazines I will keep on going and write in my own ‘Marija’ style. A person’s own style is unique. I cannot be (and therefore, write) what I am not.

Conclusion: write, write, write; reappraise, refine and hone your writing; be yourself. Then wait and see…

A few words about ‘Musings on Mothering’

Four of my poems appear in this anthology:

Baby’s First Feed

The Cold Cup of Tea

The Daffodils

The Ballad of the Beach

and the last two are accompanied by stunning works of art. Although I’m never keen to review a book that I’ve been involved with (as I feel I might not have the objectivity that a good reviewer should be in possession of) I did want to share some snippets of reviews from others:

Saffia Farr, the editor of Juno wrote:

“This is an amazing book. It is possible to get completely lost in it…

…Often, as mothers (and fathers), we are so busy caring and meeting everyday needs that we run out of time to muse. This book can help us to read others’ reflections and then see how they make us feel… 

…On first reading I was overwhelmed by the power of what is within. Motherhood is both wonderful and complex and Musings on Mothering captures this perfectly. All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to La Leche League Great Britain.”

Angela Topping, a poet and educator (and one of my favourite poets) wrote:

“This book is not just for women, but for anyone who was ever born. Do consider buying someone you love a copy.”

Musings on Mothering can be bought from Amazon (there are 4 lots of 5 * reviews on there), but as we’re trying to go Amazon-free this Christmas in order to support publishers and independent book shops I’d encourage you to consider buying the book from either the publisher’s online store;

Mother’s Milk Books online store

or this store:

LLLGB online book store

or even these ‘real’ shops:

A Room Full of Butterflies, in Nottingham

ShopIndigo, in Oxford

The Inner Bookshop, in Oxford


Rough one page cover for Musings thumbnail


Oh, and I nearly forgot the fact that ‘Baby’s First Feed’ is in this gorgeous YouTube Video, along with two other poems I love: ‘Conception’, a haiku, by Michelle Sorrell and ‘Motherhood’ by Jessica Starr.