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.

15 thoughts on “The Cold Cup of Tea”

  1. Pingback: Guest post: Cathy Bryant on ‘Moments with Mothers and (Imaginary) Daughters’ | Mother's Milk Books

  2. Pingback: Creative Mothers: The Worlds Toughest Job | Georgie St Clair Design & Illustration

  3. Marija, I’m pleased to know you now have time to reboil that kettle and write poetry. I remember a 10th birthday party, mostly boys, when I bolted the bathroom door and sat on the side of the bath with a glass of sherry, but yes, mostly a cuppa and a few deep breaths does the job.

    1. I love the image of you sat on the side of the bath with a glass of sherry, the din of boys partying outside! I’m sure you savoured every drop of the sherry, and now can savour every drop of that particular memory. 🙂

  4. I’m really glad that you talk about the ongoing nature of mothering and how important it is. Also the work – I remember when my sister’s twins were newborn – her husband had to be away a lot, as he was filming tv programmes. One night I swapped houses with her so that she could rest in my flat while I looked after the twins – my goodness, what an experience! They were about six months old and very exciteable, particularly when I (soon to become ‘Aunty Tatty’) came round. When my sister came home at about 8.30 the next morning, I went home and slept for about a week. It had been very bonding though. They may be an actuary and a producer now, but to me they’re still tiny babies…I’ll stop rambling now! I love the mixture of love and truth in this post.

    1. It sounds like that was one intense night. Twins! That’s double the fun, isn’t it?
      And yes, they’ll always be tiny babies in our minds won’t they? Sigh… this watching them grow up bit is hard!

      And about the sleeping for a week – I think we could ALL do with doing that right now 😉

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my post. Much appreciated.

  5. Isn’t it amazing how powerful a cup of tea can be! Wow I really relate to this post and I adore your poem.

    The illustration is perfect too! It captures the mood of the moment and this mum savouring her cup of tea, brilliantly. I’m so impressed with all of your work, what a talented lady!

  6. Pingback: Baby Body Shame: It's Time to Push Back | Beautiful Misbehaviour

  7. Catching up a day late in part because of what you are talking about! My children were particularly messy/needy/demanding yesterday! I relate to this a lot and I often wonder why it doesn’t really get talked about. I often feel overwhelmed then I feel bad for it as if somehow it is natural but actually it’s totally normal.

    1. Don’t worry Stephanie about catching up late! I totally understand. I’m certain that all mothers feel overwhelmed at some (or many!) points during the day; don’t be too harsh on yourself. Tomorrow is another day 😉

  8. I love your poetry, I really do! 🙂
    Also I completely agree with the fact everyone needs to take a break out just for them every now and again. I think this is same for everything that is mildly hectic. You do need to look after yourself and treat yourself.
    Can;t wait to read more poetry!

    1. And I love to hear that you love my poetry! 🙂

      Yes, everyone does need to take a break from time to time – mums included!

      Now I’d better go and write some poetry for next week 😉

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.