Guest post: Cathy Bryant on ‘Moments with Mothers and (Imaginary Daughters)’

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.


I learned about loving mothers from Facebook friends. They miss their children when they go to school; they help with projects; they care and love and argue and resolve. They hold their children in tender arms. They get through their children’s adolescence somehow, and nurture the emerging adult as carefully as one might help a struggling newborn butterfly out of the last husk of its chrysalis. This was all news to me – joyful, wonderful news. I am so glad that people feel that kind of love. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world.

As you might have guessed, I’m a bit jealous really. I don’t have any contact with my mother, nor do I desire any. I won’t go into the whole morass of that here. Neither am I a mother myself (except of books – oh, the births are difficult, but they are so beautiful and you love them so much when they arrive)!

Facebook showed me a world of love and caring and kindness and yes, problems and imperfections, but all against that amazing background of loving motherhood.

Mothers, I take my hat off to you. I do have an imaginary daughter. We watch films together and take walks together (I’m not disabled when I’m with her). She changes her name every so often. This first poem was inspired by her:

Skimming Moments

Mummy, where do ripples come from?

From the stone pushing the water, darling.

And where do the ripples go when they stop?
And where did I come from?

You remember then that because of the most
extraordinary concatenation of circumstances
you looked up and he looked up and your hearts
gave a lurch and somewhere a butterfly flapped
its wings like a beating heart and that’s
how typhoons start and children get born.

You squeeze your daughter’s hand and wonder
how to explain chance, love, biology, mathematics,
loss. You smile helplessly, sadly at her
and she laughs back and dances.


This second poem was inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’.

I’ve always had issues with it – it seems to be more about repression than emotional maturity, and I wouldn’t want to use it as advice for a child. So I wrote my own version:


When you know the time to be strong
and when to give way to your feelings;
when you will stand up for yourself
as others blame you unfairly, yet
still be tolerant of different views;
when you can meet triumph and disaster
and know to celebrate one and mourn the other,
because otherwise you’d be a ridiculous
unfeeling rock and your life pointless;
when you know better than to risk all
your life’s winnings on a single bet;
when you know that your will is one
of many, all deserving equal respect;
when you can listen in and to crowds, and not
lose the common touch when with royalty;
when you allow people close enough to hurt
you and know your vulnerability, know you;
when you truly love the planet and those in it,
despite the hatred and mocking laughter,
then you will have truly grown up –
and then, you’ll be a Woman, my daughter.


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.