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#208 - Motherhood Minus the Medals with Helen Bryce
Episode 20824th August 2022 • Happy Mama Movement with Amy Taylor-Kabbaz • Amy Taylor-Kabbaz
00:00:00 00:26:51

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Helen Bryce is a poet, writer, mother of four and outward feminist. Her collection of poetry, Motherhood Minus the Medals, writes from a point of view of how invisible, unseen, uncelebrated, unvalued and unsupported motherhood can be within the systemic patriarchs of society. This conversation demonstrates how many different layers and factors we experience daily within motherhood and oozes motivation and breathtaking moments shared. Listen as Helen and Amy discuss:

  • Generational changes and choices we now have entering into motherhood, how that is impacting decisions to become a mother.
  • Journaling to find release, reflect on experiences, continue, celebrate and find a voice on the page.
  • Stripping back to diving feminine qualities and appreciating beauty for the sake of it.
  • Having a self within motherhood, whatever that may look like.
  • The good mother myth and idea of perfectionism and loving every minute of motherhood.

Helen delights us with one of her pieces from her book at the end of this conversation. It is a powerful and amazing experience which is bound to take your breath away.

I encourage you to purchase a copy of Helen's book, Motherhood Minus the Medals, it's a powerful and wonderful read. Also, follow Helen on Instagram @nellythewriter.

There needs to be a change in the way mothers are valued and seen in our society. We are here to spread the whispers of Matrescence together. Find out more and receive your Matrescence map here https://www.amytaylorkabbaz.com/matrescence/.

Transcripts

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Aura nation

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

on which this podcast is recorded as the traditional custodians of this land.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

And as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

knowing and my own elders and teachers.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Welcome back Mamas.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Today, I am speaking to a divine Mama of four based in the UK who has published

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

a collection of poetry about motherhood.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Not the type of poetry that sings the praises and focuses on the love.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Although, yes, there are some poems in there.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

This is our type of poetry on this podcast.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

It's a poetry around the reality of motherhood.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Motherhood in patriarchy, motherhood that is full of complexities and

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

contradictions that you can feel lonely, even though you are never alone.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

That you can love so deeply and desire your freedom, so deeply.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

This book is called Motherhood Minus the Medals.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

It's published under the name, Nelly Bryce, but the author's

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

real name is Helen Bryce.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

I jumped on a call to talk to Helen about her collection of poetry,

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

which she mostly wrote during COVID lockdown over the last two years.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

And how this creative outlet, this reflection on the experience of

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

motherhood, not only is the statement to the world about what we need.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

But has also been incredibly healing for her.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Enjoy.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Helen welcome to the podcast.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I'm so excited to talk to you.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I have loved reading your collection of poetry.

Helen Bryce:

Thank you.

Helen Bryce:

It's so lovely to be here.

Helen Bryce:

Thank you for having me.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You're welcome.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So how did this collection of poetry begin?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You are a Mama of four.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And when did this artistic streak begin?

Helen Bryce:

I often think that I started this during lockdown, because that was

Helen Bryce:

when I wrote the majority of the book.

Helen Bryce:

Well actually it probably started after my first was born, so

Helen Bryce:

that's 10 years, 11 years ago now.

Helen Bryce:

Um, and I think at that point, It was the first time I I'd always

Helen Bryce:

written a journal or a diary kind of throughout my teenage years.

Helen Bryce:

Um, I stopped it during my twenties.

Helen Bryce:

And then when my, daughter was born, suddenly found myself completely in

Helen Bryce:

flux and turned back to this, this thing that had always kind of saved me when

Helen Bryce:

I'd been in difficult times before.

Helen Bryce:

And I picked up my journal when I was, when I was going through

Helen Bryce:

some difficult times after having my daughter and started writing.

Helen Bryce:

And I think it was only in the last couple of years, I realised that some

Helen Bryce:

of what I was writing was poetry.

Helen Bryce:

I almost didn't define it as such, I thought it was just scribblings

Helen Bryce:

that were coming out of my head.

Helen Bryce:

So the very first one of the poems that goes the furthest back is probably from

Helen Bryce:

then, but the majority of it was written during lockdown the last couple of years.

Helen Bryce:

Which I think for everybody brought things to her head, didn't it.

Helen Bryce:

And you kind of really started to, think about who I was as a mother.

Helen Bryce:

And, and I kind of pulled back from that whole experience I think.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because you really write from this point of

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

view of how invisible, how unseen, uncelebrated, unvalued, unsupported

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

motherhood is in a patriarchal society.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Did you feel that right from the very beginning?

Helen Bryce:

Yeah, I think I did.

Helen Bryce:

I think I did.

Helen Bryce:

And I think I was really shocked by it.

Helen Bryce:

I don't think I expected it.

Helen Bryce:

I think I was, I mean, I, I write in the book that I was probably shamefully naive

Helen Bryce:

to it because I was in my own bubble of, of youth I suppose, and, and privilege.

Helen Bryce:

And then, yeah, I suddenly realised when I had this, I had a baby that

Helen Bryce:

know, I couldn't quite understand how I'd gone from being really visible at

Helen Bryce:

work and in, in all areas of my life, really to suddenly feeling like what I

Helen Bryce:

was doing wasn't as important anymore.

Helen Bryce:

And that hit me because I felt like suddenly taken on the most

Helen Bryce:

important job in the world.

Helen Bryce:

And I couldn't work out why nobody else saw that the same way that I did

Helen Bryce:

so, yeah, I really, really felt it.

Helen Bryce:

And, and the judgment, I think that you feel as a mother, particularly

Helen Bryce:

as a new mother, I think.

Helen Bryce:

Particularly your first baby, cause you're not expecting it perhaps.

Helen Bryce:

The feeling of having to be expected to be a certain type of mother.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah, mixed with the invisibility of, you know, returning to work and suddenly

Helen Bryce:

being maybe not seen as, as important or as, you know, worthy of promotion.

Helen Bryce:

Or, you're working part-time and I, I certainly felt like those two things

Helen Bryce:

were so stark that, that it really messed with my, with how I was feeling.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

That's it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And cause your poetry reflects on that a lot.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

This contrast of being both completely invisible and so visible as a mother

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

and being judged in how you do it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And this absolute split between knowing and being told you're doing the

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

most important job in the world, but having absolutely no resources to do

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

the most important job in the world.

Helen Bryce:

Exactly, exactly which doesn't make any sense at all.

Helen Bryce:

And I think, during the pandemic that became more visible to me.

Helen Bryce:

And perhaps that was some of what spurred me on to start putting this down onto

Helen Bryce:

the page in that I really felt that split in the way that, um, parents were

Helen Bryce:

expected to pick up so much of the work.

Helen Bryce:

And I know everyone suffered during the pandemic that continues to go on.

Helen Bryce:

But just automatically expected to pick up that work.

Helen Bryce:

Um, again, almost invisibly, uh, without kind of any

Helen Bryce:

consideration for what that meant.

Helen Bryce:

And at the same time still feel the pressure to be, you know,

Helen Bryce:

homeschooling our kids and making sure that they have the best upbringing,

Helen Bryce:

which of course we want to do.

Helen Bryce:

But yeah, without the resources, it's hard.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And I love how you say right at the very beginning that, you

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

were brought up by a strong single Mum.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Who taught you that women can do anything, but then you entered a

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

world intent on forcing the opposite.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I loved how you said that, because that is our generation.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

We were brought up to believe that the world was our oyster.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

We could do it all.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

We could be a mother, we could be a wife.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

We could be a successful business woman, politician, whatever.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And yet the world is intent on making sure we are not able to do

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

all of that because we don't have what we need to be able to do it.

Helen Bryce:

Exactly.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah, exactly that.

Helen Bryce:

Do you think that's a generational thing, do you think that's

Helen Bryce:

different for the next generation?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Well, interestingly, the statistics are

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

showing us that the next generation of women don't want to have babies.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because they've watched us and seen it doesn't work.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

They either fall behind at work or they suffer at home and

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

the relationships fall apart.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And the surveys of the next generation of men and women, the desire to be parents

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

is dropping dramatically, I think.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

:

Which is incredibly sad.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

:

Don't you think?

Helen Bryce:

I do.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah, I do.

Helen Bryce:

I think it would be nice to get to a stage where choosing to become a mother

Helen Bryce:

was or not to become a mother or a parent was more widely accepted as well.

Helen Bryce:

I think more people are speaking about that now.

Helen Bryce:

And I love that.

Helen Bryce:

I think it's, it's great that women are no longer expected to simply

Helen Bryce:

become mothers by default and that, and if they don't then you

Helen Bryce:

know what use are of they society.

Helen Bryce:

But yeah, the, the fact that I think that choice has been taken out people's homes.

Helen Bryce:

It's yet again, the same thing, isn't it?

Helen Bryce:

There's this feeling that we should have choice and we just don't have choice.

Helen Bryce:

And, and now, you know, there's new choices to be made about even

Helen Bryce:

becoming a mother in the first place because that support isn't there

Helen Bryce:

in the way that we maybe felt it a little bit further down the line.

Helen Bryce:

But either way, not, not great.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

No.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And from my understanding of statistics, they're choosing not to

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

become parents because of the system.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because there is no support because they've watched the previous generations,

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

perhaps suffer is a strong word, but maybe that's what they would use in

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

trying to balance and have it all.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And they're choosing no thanks.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I don't want to do that.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So if we had a better system in place, maybe their choices would be different.

Helen Bryce:

Yep, exactly.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Helen Bryce:

That's.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Have you spoken to your Mum?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Has she seen this book?

Helen Bryce:

Um, my Mum has seen the book.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Helen Bryce:

She was really proud of it and she's, she's quite gushy.

Helen Bryce:

I was a bit kind of, oh, it's quite sweary Mum and , and she's, she's

Helen Bryce:

not hugely into, into swearing.

Helen Bryce:

So, um, she was desperate to take it to her church and, and literally give

Helen Bryce:

a copy to every single person she met.

Helen Bryce:

I was like, oh, maybe, maybe check her that they're okay with the swearing.

Helen Bryce:

Um, but she was so, so proud of it.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because I think that's the other side of the

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

generational conversation, isn't it?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

That I wonder what the previous generations think of the conversations

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

that we are starting to have.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

About how much more we need equality and support and visibility for mothers.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah, absolutely.

Helen Bryce:

She gave me a book that she'd had once from when she was my age.

Helen Bryce:

About how to be, I suppose, a good mother.

Helen Bryce:

It wasn't actually worded quite so brucely.

Helen Bryce:

But it, it, that was pretty much the premise.

Helen Bryce:

And it had things in it, like, you know, be sure to iron your husband's shirt

Helen Bryce:

in the right way before he comes home.

Helen Bryce:

I was literally reading the words thinking is this, is this written in

Helen Bryce:

print, is this actually been printed?

Helen Bryce:

And she was like, yeah, it was from a big publisher.

Helen Bryce:

It was lots of our friends had it, it was a widely read book.

Helen Bryce:

Um, all of it was about how to be, you know, great in the home really.

Helen Bryce:

I think that was the main premise of it.

Helen Bryce:

And please your husband, so yeah, quite different.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It's not that long ago, Helen.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

But it's not, it's only, it's only our mothers.

Helen Bryce:

Late seventies published.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

No.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I was born in the late seventies.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

That's that's the start of my generation.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Wow.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So you talk a lot about the patriarchy.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You have a poem in there, the feminist mothers club.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

There's a lot of these conversations around the role of women and mothers.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

What do you hope that this will do?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

What conversations do you want to have had when people read this book?

Helen Bryce:

Well, the first thing I really hoped was that they felt a bit

Helen Bryce:

reassured that it wasn't their fault.

Helen Bryce:

Because I think, when I first became a Mum 11 years ago.

Helen Bryce:

Like there wasn't social media then, and I didn't have a smartphone, so I wasn't

Helen Bryce:

able to follow people like you, Amy, and find that reassurance and that support.

Helen Bryce:

And I felt really lonely.

Helen Bryce:

And I'm sure that that is still the case for lots of mothers

Helen Bryce:

now that they feel some of that.

Helen Bryce:

So I hope that it would put into words, some of those feelings that maybe we

Helen Bryce:

then internalise and think we're doing something wrong because we feel this way

Helen Bryce:

or because we're not finding it easy or because we're not loving every second.

Helen Bryce:

And of course, some of that is completely natural regardless of the patriarchy.

Helen Bryce:

But I do think it's worth recognising that some of that is put upon us.

Helen Bryce:

Not necessarily just the way that we feel.

Helen Bryce:

So I definitely wanted some of that.

Helen Bryce:

Cause I wasn't sure whether I should write this book.

Helen Bryce:

Cause I, I think you always think what place have I got or what right

Helen Bryce:

have I got to write this book?

Helen Bryce:

It's just my experience and that's just one experience.

Helen Bryce:

And so I really doubted myself and struggled with that and, and

Helen Bryce:

probably sat in it for far too long.

Helen Bryce:

So I did want it to also be a prompt to say, if you feel some of this, then

Helen Bryce:

write about it and use your voice.

Helen Bryce:

And because I don't think there's enough written about motherhood.

Helen Bryce:

I think it still see me as niche, which is absolute craziness because it's,

Helen Bryce:

you know, it's it's life and death and, you know, it's everything, isn't it.

Helen Bryce:

And I still think that there's a bit of feeling like, I'm gonna bore people

Helen Bryce:

with my motherhood stories or, you know, I don't wanna, I go into work

Helen Bryce:

and obviously it's up to you if you wanna speak about your family and work,

Helen Bryce:

but I certainly felt it was a bit of leave work at, leave home at home.

Helen Bryce:

Don't go on about your children too much so that I look professional

Helen Bryce:

and that I could be taken seriously.

Helen Bryce:

And now, geez, like life is so much more than these things that we

Helen Bryce:

can put into separate categories.

Helen Bryce:

Life is, is about kind of growth and nurturing and responsibility

Helen Bryce:

and love and God so much love.

Helen Bryce:

So I really wanted to, to almost spark some, if you want to write

Helen Bryce:

about motherhood or if you've got even the slightest desire to do that.

Helen Bryce:

I've only been a poet for a few years, I would say.

Helen Bryce:

So go write.

Helen Bryce:

Go.

Helen Bryce:

Don't wait for somebody to give you permission to do it.

Helen Bryce:

Just write it and share it and speak about it.

Helen Bryce:

And let's, let's talk about this amazing experience of

Helen Bryce:

motherhood a little bit more.

Helen Bryce:

And again, that can be linked to the patriarchy.

Helen Bryce:

Cause I don't think that we're always encouraged to think there's probably

Helen Bryce:

more writing about sport and football than there is about motherhood.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Oh, yes.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Absolutely.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I mean, we have whole channels dedicated to fishing for goodness sakes.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

But we don't have, there's only a handful, there's a handful of motherhood

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

studies in universities around the world.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It blows my mind that it's not even a well recognised topic to study.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And I love again that you wrote in your book that, you know, we hope one

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

day there will be shelves and shelves dedicated to motherhood in libraries.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Where are all the stories?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because if we're going to change this and make it less invisible,

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

we need all the different versions of the stories out there.

Helen Bryce:

We a hundred percent need all the different versions.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And so what did it give you to tap into that creativity?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because I know a lot of the Mamas that I speak to and are in my programs.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

They're feeling everything you've written here.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

They're every single poem.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You can see yourself in it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You've had those moments.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And so they're internalising it at the moment.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

What does that creative outlet give you?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

How has that changed you?

Helen Bryce:

That gives me so much I use my journal every single day.

Helen Bryce:

And I know you're a big journaling fan, too.

Helen Bryce:

It's.

Helen Bryce:

I, I just think it's a way to, to find some release and to find your voice on the

Helen Bryce:

page, I think is a really powerful thing.

Helen Bryce:

Um, both to be able to reflect back on experiences and then be

Helen Bryce:

able to dissect them a little bit, maybe move on from them, or maybe

Helen Bryce:

celebrate them, whatever that brings.

Helen Bryce:

But also to, to tell stories on the page, I think is just wonderful.

Helen Bryce:

And yeah it made me really happy.

Helen Bryce:

And particularly during lockdown, I think the journaling had, had helped me forever.

Helen Bryce:

Like I I'd always been a big fan of journaling and from having my

Helen Bryce:

first baby, I was always a huge fan.

Helen Bryce:

I journal a lot, but then during lockdown and the pandemic over the last few

Helen Bryce:

years, I'd started doing some poetry courses and workshops and started

Helen Bryce:

writing poetry more consistently.

Helen Bryce:

And it was such a massive outlet, such a release from the day to day.

Helen Bryce:

And look forward to it every week.

Helen Bryce:

And I think we've all got that, haven't we.

Helen Bryce:

We've all got that need for creativity.

Helen Bryce:

I think, whether we've been told we're not creative in school or whether

Helen Bryce:

we've lost it cause we've not had it.

Helen Bryce:

We've not allocated that time to ourselves to be able to do it.

Helen Bryce:

For lots of reasons, I think we've lost it.

Helen Bryce:

Or lots of people have lost it, say we've, I I'd certainly lost it.

Helen Bryce:

And suddenly getting it again.

Helen Bryce:

I felt like I was a teenager.

Helen Bryce:

I felt like I was learning something new and I was able to.

Helen Bryce:

I just, I couldn't get enough of it.

Helen Bryce:

I could not get enough of it once I'd started.

Helen Bryce:

And it's since continued to be a huge part of my selfcare.

Helen Bryce:

So it's, a hobby that I do for like, for hobby's sake, just for fun.

Helen Bryce:

And I don't do it for any other reason.

Helen Bryce:

And again, there's so much.

Helen Bryce:

I think that you, you can't say that to, can you cause you're so busy.

Helen Bryce:

It's uh, it's so hard to justify sometimes.

Helen Bryce:

cause you think if I'm gonna have any time away, it has to be to make money

Helen Bryce:

or it has to be to do something for the good of the family or it has to be,

Helen Bryce:

there's to care for, like, my Mum or my to do something for the community.

Helen Bryce:

And, and I think all of that is important, but also to just have

Helen Bryce:

something for yourself where you just get to play and have fun and express

Helen Bryce:

yourself and understand yourself better and make something beautiful.

Helen Bryce:

Oh, I just think is, wonderful.

Helen Bryce:

And I think everyone should do it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It's the beautiful divine, feminine qualities

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

of beauty for the sake of it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Doesn't have to be productive.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You don't have to make money from it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It is to fill your soul to take time and space for yourself.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It's so important and I've spoken over the years with artists painters, drawers,

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

you know, people who used to make clothes, all of these things that get sucked up

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

with those early months of motherhood.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And then before they know it, it's been years before they've tapped back into it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And it's a core part of who they were, it's that identity

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

they need to bring back in.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So I really love the way you spoke about that, because I know there's

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

so many that would be listening right now and just have that little

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

spark of, oh yeah, I could do that.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So, thank you.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

That's really beautiful.

Helen Bryce:

I used to run a, a workshop about changing career.

Helen Bryce:

So my background in human resources and, training and development.

Helen Bryce:

So I used to do a lot of workshops and courses, and I did want all about changing

Helen Bryce:

career because this came up a lot.

Helen Bryce:

I think from all those, when they were , thinking about,

Helen Bryce:

wanting to do something new.

Helen Bryce:

And the course was brilliant, but what always used to strike me was that, the

Helen Bryce:

biggest light bulb moments I suppose, came not necessarily about work.

Helen Bryce:

It was always, I've gone back to trying something that I've not done

Helen Bryce:

since I was younger or I've gone back to painting or, writing or whatever

Helen Bryce:

it was, or a certain exercise.

Helen Bryce:

And, and I love that.

Helen Bryce:

I love that it, it started off being about work because that's

Helen Bryce:

often our biggest Paul, isn't it, that we need to do something.

Helen Bryce:

And then, and then it evolves naturally.

Helen Bryce:

We think it's more about it's something else.

Helen Bryce:

And, and that's a beautiful thing.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Yeah.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And that's what we need as bring that balance in.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I also love that I was reading.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

You were worried about your children reading this in the future?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

it almost stops you a few times to put it out into the world because,

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

uh, the reality is it is a lot of reflections on the difficulty and

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

the contrast and the invisibility and the struggles of motherhood.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Can you talk to us about that?

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Because, this is, again, a very common thing I hear from both, people who

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

are writing about motherhood or even just mothers themselves, you know.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

They say how difficult it is, but then they always follow up with, but I'm so

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

blessed and I'm so grateful and I wouldn't change anything and they almost want to

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

cover up that they're finding it hard.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

That there has been a struggle in this.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It's such a big thing to just say, this is my experience.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I love my kids of course.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

But this is what it feels like to me right now.

Helen Bryce:

You explained that so well, um, yeah, exactly that.

Helen Bryce:

I still do struggle with it.

Helen Bryce:

If I'm honest, I'm still struggling with it.

Helen Bryce:

Because I've, put this book into the world, and occasionally I suddenly

Helen Bryce:

have the, the urge to take it back out and to make sure that no further

Helen Bryce:

copies go into the world and for some of that reason you know, you look at

Helen Bryce:

your children and you love them so much.

Helen Bryce:

And, and the idea that you might have written something that could

Helen Bryce:

hurt them is so, it's so awful that you want to just delete it all.

Helen Bryce:

And then I have to remind myself that actually, that I don't want them to

Helen Bryce:

grow up having the same experiences that I sometimes have with motherhood.

Helen Bryce:

I want them to grow up in a world where motherhood is celebrated

Helen Bryce:

and they're allowed to be the type of mother that they want to be.

Helen Bryce:

And, um, you know, all living in a patriarchy, it's probably a bit

Helen Bryce:

ambitious considering that the oldest is 11, but I, I, I hope for that.

Helen Bryce:

I hope for that.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Helen Bryce:

So.

Helen Bryce:

And then, and then when I remember that, I think if I don't use my

Helen Bryce:

voice, what am I teaching them?

Helen Bryce:

What am I telling them about going out there and talking about what you

Helen Bryce:

believe in and what you're passionate about and what you'd like to change.

Helen Bryce:

And that, that is what keeps me doing it.

Helen Bryce:

And that is what keeps it, keeps it out there.

Helen Bryce:

But I can't pretend that it isn't something that

Helen Bryce:

bothers me cause it, it does.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I love that.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thank you for being honest.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I think, the good mother myth, this idea that we all should be perfect and

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

love every minute of it is never gonna change if we're afraid to show our truth.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And so a book full of poetry about the truth of this experience

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

is exactly what we need.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And if we keep pulling it back and hiding it, we're never gonna change it.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz:

Are we?

Helen Bryce:

No, no, we're not.

Helen Bryce:

No, we're not.

Helen Bryce:

So, yeah, I, I hope that they read it and I hope that one day, I

Helen Bryce:

always think just, oh, maybe don't read it before you have children.

Helen Bryce:

maybe it'll feel like this.

Helen Bryce:

maybe it'll feel a little bit, offput saying it's not all negative.

Helen Bryce:

The book has got lots of, uh, poems full of joy.

Helen Bryce:

I hope in it, but it does feel positive, but, I do hope that they read it

Helen Bryce:

one day and I hope that they can see from it that actually, that having a

Helen Bryce:

self and being able to keep that self within, within motherhood and not be,

Helen Bryce:

entirely uh, defined by that title is, can be a positive, beautiful thing.

Helen Bryce:

That, that is what that is.

Helen Bryce:

What I hope they'll get from it one day.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Oh, I love that that having a self within motherhood is so

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

important and that self can look like, poetry, it can look like your work, it

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

can look like a hobby, whatever it is, but we need to find ourselves within this.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah.

Helen Bryce:

Yeah,

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Mm.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So 11 years on from that first experience, four children later, what do you think

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

motherhood has shown you the most?

Helen Bryce:

Oh, that's a good question.

Helen Bryce:

You know, I dunno whether it's what it's shown me the most, because I

Helen Bryce:

think, I think it's shown me how to love in a way that I never realised.

Helen Bryce:

And that sounds so cliche, doesn't it?

Helen Bryce:

It's so, but it does, doesn't it, you don't realise how much you can possibly

Helen Bryce:

love somebody until, uh, not that I don't love my husband, but it's different.

Helen Bryce:

Oh God.

Helen Bryce:

I'm so in love with these kids.

Helen Bryce:

And they show me how to live, if I'm honest, I know that's really cliche

Helen Bryce:

as well, and I could have written a whole book on this, around how, what

Helen Bryce:

they show me on a daily basis about how to live and what's important in life.

Helen Bryce:

Um, but I think the interesting angle to that also, and I suppose it continues

Helen Bryce:

on the theme of love is that it's really challenged me on loving myself.

Helen Bryce:

I think that that is something that motherhood has given me that

Helen Bryce:

I didn't realise it would give me.

Helen Bryce:

Um, in that I'm really aware that I want my children and particularly my

Helen Bryce:

girls, um not more than my boys, but because I think it's more of a challenge

Helen Bryce:

for my girls, potentially I suppose.

Helen Bryce:

To, to grow up, so in love with themselves, that they are able to then

Helen Bryce:

share that love with the world and feel that love and accept that love.

Helen Bryce:

And I found that really hard and I continue to find that hard and

Helen Bryce:

I work on it every single day.

Helen Bryce:

It's what stops me taking the time to look after myself.

Helen Bryce:

It's what stops me.

Helen Bryce:

It's what, you know, it's where, where all my fears come from.

Helen Bryce:

It's what, it's, what almost makes me take that book off the shelf.

Helen Bryce:

So, uh, I work on that all the time and, and in watching them, I,

Helen Bryce:

I feel that they inspire me to do that more and work harder because I

Helen Bryce:

really want them to feel that too.

Helen Bryce:

And I know that I've got those small, those eyes looking up

Helen Bryce:

at me all the time, haven't I?

Helen Bryce:

Seeing how I speak about my body, how I talk about myself, how I,

Helen Bryce:

prioritise my own wellbeing, you know, they're watching and I don't say

Helen Bryce:

that in a way to like, make you feel guilty or make myself feel guilty.

Helen Bryce:

I say it because I think it's a beautiful thing.

Helen Bryce:

I say it because it's, I think it's a gift.

Helen Bryce:

That they give me in doing that because they allow me to really work on that.

Helen Bryce:

And I think that's a lifelong thing that I'll constantly be working on

Helen Bryce:

because, um, it doesn't come easily.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Mm beautifully said.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Wow.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thank you.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So to finish, I would love if you could read us one of the poems from your book,

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

one of the poems from your collection.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

So everybody can hear what it's like and, and reflect on it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thank you so much, Helen.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It's been really, really beautiful.

Helen Bryce:

Thank you.

Helen Bryce:

I'd love to.

Helen Bryce:

So, um, I'll read one called Imagining A Motherhood No Longer Wrapped In

Helen Bryce:

Cellophane On A Garage Forecourt.

Helen Bryce:

Imagine a world glistening with mothers.

Helen Bryce:

Where they grow wild on street corners and down shared walkways.

Helen Bryce:

Have roots in the centres of glass buildings, where they bloom

Helen Bryce:

and grow out loud - every breath more alive for their existence.

Helen Bryce:

Where we ask children to paint them in Spring, to capture their

Helen Bryce:

yellowy, youthful hopefulness.

Helen Bryce:

Then, when the daylight hours are longer, put them in vases center stage

Helen Bryce:

on long tables to eat great food.

Helen Bryce:

If their bodies should fall to the ground; bruised perhaps, from the harsher weather.

Helen Bryce:

Imagine that, we gather them up and stir them into potions, feel intoxicating

Helen Bryce:

glass bottles of blues, greens, pinks.

Helen Bryce:

Colours that go far beyond what we assumed we knew, and for which

Helen Bryce:

people will cue for miles and miles, will beg to understand, appreciating

Helen Bryce:

that they are truly life-giving.

Helen Bryce:

Where we weave their fierceness into spiky cinnamon scented wreaths or dry

Helen Bryce:

them as their vibrancy fails, but is no less beautiful, place them purposefully

Helen Bryce:

next to fireplaces, and on polished wooden dressers, where visitors will

Helen Bryce:

stop and stare, unable to pass by.

Helen Bryce:

Oblivious.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Wow goosebumps.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thank you so much.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I will put all the details, how people can get a copy of this, cause

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

it will be on shelves everywhere.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

That's what we want and what we need.

Helen Bryce:

Thank Thank you.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thank you so much.

Helen Bryce:

Uh, thank you so much for the work you do.

Helen Bryce:

You're a massive inspiration.

Helen Bryce:

So I really appreciate it.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thank you.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Wow.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Thanks so much.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

This little collection of poetry is a really beautiful bedside book.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

I know often I want to just read something, reflect on something before I

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

fall asleep, but picking up a big book and trying to get through a whole chapter is

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

too much at the end of a really full day.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

This book can be that little check in with yourself.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

The collection of poetry is beautiful.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

It is such a divine insight into the realities of motherhood.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And as you read them, you can really reflect on how invisible it

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

is, but how you can start seeing yourself in a different way.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

Motherhood Minus the Medals by Nelly Bryce, all the

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

details are in the show notes.

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

And you can also follow Nelly on Instagram, share this far and white

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

as always and leave a review, so more and more mums can hear these stories

Amy Taylor Kabbaz:

and start the conversation as well.

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