Guest Kasia James on The Milk of Female Kindness

Today, I’m Guest Posting over at the fabulously named “Peanut Butter on the Keyboard”. It’s a blog close to my heart in that it’s run by a group of great women who also manage to juggle writing with motherhood.

So please – pop on over to visit them.  🙂

Guest Kasia James on The Milk of Female Kindness.


Mum trumps all

I don’t normally write about my private life on here, (other than my private creative endeavors of course), but this week is different. This week my child had gastroenteritis serious enough to get us admitted to hospital.

He is starting to turn the corner, I hope, but it has really brought home to me some truths about being a mother like a snowball to the face.

Firstly, there is nothing more important than your child, especially when they are sick. I love my partner dearly, and so I almost hesitate to type that, but being an adult he can look after himself, rationalise things, and he can seek help and resources outside me. My bub, especially as he can’t speak more than a few words, is entirely dependent on us to help him. We are his entire world. Sometimes all you can do is cuddle him. My professional work and my creative work, come so far down the list of priorities in comparison that they don’t even rate a number on the list.

The other thing is that gender equality and that delicate balance we weave as joint partners in bringing up this little person go completely out the window. My child is no respecter of politics, or even other people’s feelings. All week he has pushed his father away (and is grandfather is out of the question), because he needs ME. Intensely, 24 hours, and in close contact at all times. It’s been hard on my partner to be left feeling second best, especially as they have such fun when he is well.

Someone at my work recently suggested that a colleague who was going on maternity leave at the end of the month would have a lovely relaxing time when the baby comes, reading books and putting her feet up. I confess that I did have to pipe up and put him straight – about the intensity of the relationship – about how it is hard to explain what you do all day, but your days are completely full – about how my child was so demanding when he was tiny that I lost weight as I had no chance to eat.

One of our reviewers (Ella Dee) for ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’ said that as she is not a mother, reading the book was like reading science fiction, the worlds of mothers’ real and honest experiences were so different from her own. I can completely agree with that. I don’t think you can have any real idea of the intensity of the relationship until you are caught up in its whirlwind.

Hopefully this particular whirlwind will set us down somewhere a little sunnier and calmer soon.

Cover reveal! Milk of Female Kindness

Finally, I can reveal to the world the face of all our hard work over the last year! Drum roll please….

Here is the cover of our anthology of honest stories about motherhood – ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’.

MOFK COVER front final

The Anthology is a collection of the work of twenty-eight women from around the world, who have been brave enough to write honestly about their experiences of motherhood. I’d like to extend my most sincere thanks to all the contributors. It has been an honour working with such an inspiring group of people! 🙂

Unlike most other books on the subject, we have a creative focus – there is artwork, poetry, short fiction, essays and interviews.

The collection is deliberately diverse, in all senses. All stages of motherhood are reflected, and really the aim is to broaden the range of stories out there, and allow women to think for themselves what it means to be a mother, rather than relying on the shallow and market focused roles that the media might like to push us into. You may disagree with some of the work: others pieces will resonate with you. Whatever happens, it will make you think more deeply about being a parent.

The book will be released in paperback first, with e-book to follow soon after. Stay tuned for developments!

Kay Nielsen’s Stunning 1914 Scandinavian Fairy Tale Illustrations

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These are too beautiful to miss, so I thought I would reblog them for you.

I particularly like the sense of line, and the carefully chosen colour palettes. If only I could get some illustrations as gorgeous as this for my novel and short story collection: I’ve been thinking for some time that it would be nice to release a version with illustrations. Somehow the lack of time gets in the way – not to mention that my own style of drawing tends rather to Dr. Suess than Errol LeCain. 🙂

You can see more of these lovely illustrations at:

Kay Nielsen’s Stunning 1914 Scandinavian Fairy Tale Illustrations | Brain Pickings.

Author profile: Jessica Kennedy

I’d like you to meet another one of the fabulous women who will be contributing to our Anthology ‘The Milk of Female Kindness – An Anthology of Honest Motherhood.’

Jessica Kennedy writes a terrific blog over at mamaconfessionals,where she writes honestly, and often with terrific humour, about her life and the ups and downs of bringing up three small children, the elder two of whom are identical twins: ‘the ladies.’

She says that Mama Confessionals was created on a feeling. A feeling of disconnect. A desire to feel as a part of a whole. Jessica says:

“I knew as a new mom I needed a space where I could come and know I was not alone on my journey. I wanted to feel and hear the other foot soldiers of motherhood. I wanted a space where my words were heard and someone would understand. I had a strong desired to hear ‘I know, me too!’ I needed a space to come online and find endurance, hope and connection. I wanted to be able to join together with marvelous women who fight their own battles everyday, to share our power and wisdom.


Three years ago, I was brutally introduced to motherhood. In January of 2010, I gave birth to identical twin girls. Chloe and Charlotte. The ladies, as I like to call them. I was not ready for them. I thought I was, but no one could have prepared me for twin infancy. It was beautiful, scary and far too revealing. This organic and honest version of myself came bubbling to the surface and she scared me. My chance at perfectionism was thrown away and my raw core was revealed, like an open wound. I was scared and felt extremely disconnected, so I began to blog. I took my long standing love for writing and began to share my words. I began to receive response from women I knew. They appreciated my thoughts, and felt the same way. Knowing that my words were being heard and others felt like me made my heart sing. I felt part of a community and my desire to feel connected was being satisfied.
When my girls were about to turn 2, I found out I was pregnant for the second time. In July of 2012, Canton was born. His sisters have lovingly named him Canty-boy. I am now the mama of three wildly amazing children. They smell of lavender, have hilarious one liners, smile like the whole world is looking and sometimes drive their mama crazy.
Somedays it is hard… really hard. But I always know that at some point  they will fall asleep and I can watch. I will be transfixed on the beauty of motherhood. I am able to watch their little chests rise up and down, their soft blond hair falling haphazardly all over their pillow, and their tiny fingers gripping their favorite nap time stuffy, and I know I am powerful. Their beauty is always prevalent, but in those moments of pure mama joy, I know I am beautiful and strong. I know I can do this. Our family is complete and I have since found my groove. I know that other mama’s feel similar to me. Desiring more connection, searching for a space to feel the power of ‘mama army’. I want to help create that space, filled with honest, truth and light for the powerful and ever changing mama. A space where we meet to create beautiful light and to be powerful together using our common experiences to flourish and simply be the best possible woman we were intended to be.
I wanted to contribute to this outstanding anthology to connect us with stories. I wanted to help tell the story of honest mother hood. We hide from the dark but only with the dark are we able to see the true spectacular beauty of the light. “
Jessica is planning to put together a book of poetry, built around words from children. It’s a terrific idea, and here is one of the poems. Enjoy!

Killing Them with Kindness.

The monster is coming.

Hide in the trees.

Waiting and waiting but not to be found.

I ask, Is he still here?


We hide in the bush.

couched low to the ground, listening.

I ask again, Is he still here?


We hide in his house.

A big wooded house.

It echos and creaks.

Surely we will hear the bedlam of this beast.

But only silence surrounds.

Is he still here?

No, she says.

I saved him.

He was a nice monster.

I kissed him.

Now he is gone.

copyright Jessica Kennedy, 2013

Time to draw breath

wipI’m starting back at work next week, after about ten months break to look after my bub. This week, I went back for a three hour workshop, and a few things really struck me.

First, was the introversion of most of the people I work with. Two asked how the baby was. No-one asked how I was! One person greeted me with simply the words: “Heathmont is a nightmare. I hate it.” Heathmont being a project I was working on before I left. No doubt they think that they’ll hear my news in time, and are perhaps too shy to ask. Either that, or they are too wrapped up in their ‘nightmares’ to give a damn. Never mind. I’ll enjoy hearing what they have all been up to.

The second thing was the situation with projects. Many of the same projects are still going on, after all this time – but people have become more cynical and depressed about them. It’s like I’ve just been away for the weekend, not most of a year, but everyone else had a shocker of a weekend.

I don’t feel particularly worried about going back to work, despite this. It will be a nice change to work a couple of days a week in an office, and I’ll do my level best to resist the negativity.

It did lead me to reflect though on what I’ve been doing while my work mates have been in their hamster wheel. It’s a chance to draw breath before I dive headlong back into the corporate world. And I find that breath is rather sweet.

I’ve done such a lot this year. Brought new life into the world, and nurtured it. He’s learning and growing all the time, and changing all the time, and so am I. I’ve learnt an awful lot about him, but also about me, and my partner, who is an awesome Dad. I’ve learnt that I have an angry flash now and then which I need to learn to contain. I’ve learnt to live in the moment. I’ve learnt an awful lot about patience, and sharing, and giving myself freely, and without reservation. I’ve learnt that I can still do a lot, but squashed into a much shorter and more intense period of time. I’ve learnt to do a lot of stuff with one hand!

I’ve also managed to continue to write, which is of course an activity which takes a certain degree of concentration and a quiet mind. Not only has there been a lot of progress on my Anthology of Honest Motherhood, but also on my short story collection. It’s actually cemented in my mind that because I’m finding the time to still write, then it must be really important to me, as the need to prioritize has become more urgent.

So – will I still find time when I’m working? You bet. I’ll have all that lovely commuting time to fill in, when I can let my mind free without replying to raspberries and playing peek-a-boo.

How about you? Did something in your life change the way you see it? Did something crystallise your need to write, if you do? Love to hear your thoughts.

My child


That first hard stretch

He’s as reflective and gyroed

as a marble

Echoing emotions and

selfishly spiking

Anger and adoration


Early hesitant smiles


Dangling response

A softening as tantalising

as a distant shimmer

before desperate thirst


Now a sounding board

amplifies feeling

He is my resonant frequency

Shame blankets ire

Delight oozes

Like warm fudge sauce.

Childhood fantasies

I am slightly exhausted today, as we had family staying with us over the weekend, who have a baby and a three year old.

The three year old is obsessed with all things vehicular, particularly cars. Cars are his life: he races toy cars, loves ‘The Fast and the Furious‘ and of course the Pixar film ‘Cars’, and makes very convincing car noises, complete with gear changes and air brakes.

Which made me wonder – are these early obsessions a real indicator of what we will be passionate about in later life?

I don’t recall being completely captivated by any particular area for a long period of time, with the notable exception of reading. My whole family reads widely and eclectically, and I always have too. The more eclectic the better in fact. I love to mix it up so that I can have a Murder Mystery, followed by something on Neurology, a Romance, and then perhaps some Sci-Fi as dessert.

Writing came much later, which seems a tad unusual when I see all the people who have been hoarding scraps of writing since they were knee high. They must have such a wealth of content to dive back into, which I find quite humbling. Personally, I started writing as I had a day off, and thought I would have a go at writing a novel. Why not? I had read some pretty terrible sci-fi (although I have found so many great authors now), and thought that I could probably do better.

I’ve no idea if I succeeded, but it has been a great journey! 🙂

Following my eclectic tastes, the book I’m theoretically working on now is more of a Ghost story, but we’ll see how that goes.

I’d love to hear your stories. Have you always wanted to write? Do you only write in one genre, or several? And did your childhood tastes feed directly into your adult passion?