We Took This Chaos And Made Something Beautiful - The Mum Poem Press Community

We Took This Chaos And Made Something Beautiful - The Mum Poem Press Community
By Kaitlyn Wislang

Mothers and their children have a uniquely intimate relationship. The messiness of the day-to-day and the distinct joy are remarkable and brimming. It can both make and break us, in one thousand different ways.

The weight of this relationship is too much to stay cooped with, alone. Without an outlet, it can feel as though our entire selves have seeped out the edges, each day engulfed.

And so we find ourselves grappling with a means to cope with it all. 

Some of us talk. Some draw. Some run, some sing, and some can’t stop cleaning.

And some of us write.

Poetry is unassumingly cathartic in a way that little else is. There are few limitations on the how of it all. You don’t need anything special, you can write from sunrise until the depths of the night, and there are no monetary obligations. It is a relatively unhindered form of expression. It requires little of the world aside from what you choose to give of yourself.

I wrote my way through the postpartum period of my second child. Sandwiched between lockdowns and with a baby that wanted little but to sleep on my chest, writing brought me through. I wrote through the second night, through the first week, through the challenges that arose with raising a one-year-old and a newborn. I wrote through it all, not exactly sure why I was furiously typing on the Notes app, but just knowing that it was undoubtedly necessary.

Eventually, I mustered up the courage to start sharing my poetry online and quickly found The Mum Poem Press (TMMP). And I’ve never been part of an online community as endearing or encouraging. I spoke to several TMMP members while writing this article, wanting to understand their relationship with this space. How did we find ourselves here, writing in the dark of the night and sharing it with strangers the next day? And why do we keep coming back, writing poem after poem with an almost feverish longing for expression?

For many, having a creative outlet is crucial to not only enduring motherhood but thriving within it. As Victoria says, “it’s an escape and a creative streak that I desperately need. It brings a new dimension to life, especially when mothering can feel restricted and constrained.” Rebecca needs “a creative outlet to feel functional.” Writing offers us a way of being ourselves when we feel erased or shadowed by motherhood. Having a space to examine our experiences, beyond the ruckus of our own heads, is invaluable.

Poetry is also an accomplishment for many of us, especially when we’re in the thick of days that can drag. Eve describes, “such a sense of accomplishment, which can be something lacking from the day-to-day of motherhood.” Rebecca says, “I feel that within poetry, I could actually get somewhere.” When we feel limited, poetry is our open door.

However, writing is only half the cathartic nature of poetry. The absolute joy in sharing poetry with other mums is unbounded. Reading each other’s work, musing over our shared experiences, and most importantly, feeling seen by each other. It also challenges us to grow as writers too. Ellen explains that the community has made her “more intentional about writing . . . I seek out inspiration rather than only writing the stuff that comes straight into my head.”

And we continue writing, again and again, because through our shared words we belong. Motherhood in this modern age can be inherently isolating, with so much mere surviving going on within the four walls of our homes. The circumstances of motherhood, or of life in general, can make it hard to find a space that “gets” us. Rebecca describes that she “didn’t have a mothering community in real life - I am neurodiverse and find socializing in certain spaces difficult, so baby groups and the likes weren’t for me . . . but TMMP was immediately a place I felt that I fit.” Danielle also felt that poetry enabled her to connect deeply with other mums. In her words, “there’s also nothing quite like having someone reach out to tell me that something I’ve written speaks to them . . . that they feel less alone . . .I, in turn, also feel less alone.” 

The pandemic was the catalyst for many of us to begin cultivating our work. As Jenny describes, “I wanted something that no lockdown or pandemic could take away.” Our online poetry community is unique in that it bloomed through the isolation and trauma of the pandemic. Victoria describes writing during the pandemic as “a way to do something when we couldn’t do very much.” While everyday life was in upheaval, we all found each other and parts of ourselves through writing. We took this chaos and, as mothers do, managed to create something beautiful.

Within mothering, we exist only in relation to our child. Or so it often feels that way. But within the poetry community, we build upon ourselves in a way that expands the four walls around us rather than closes them in. We find ourselves free, through poetry. Or at the very least, untethered, and awash with belonging. As Eve affirms, “I know that I will look back on this season of my life and be so grateful that my exhausted, frazzled self picked up a pen.”

A huge thank you to The Mum Poem Press members, Danielle (@musingsonbeing), Ellen (@ellen_writes_poems), Eve (@evepoetry_), Jenny (@jennymunrohunt), Rebecca (@rebeccagreenpoetry), and Victoria (@victoriapunch_) for so generously sharing your stories with me.


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