In the first entry in this journal, posted before the Mothership workshops began, I said that the intention was to share some work here from time to time – ‘jottings from our sessions, the ink still wet.’ I remember hesitating before I wrote those words, wondering if I was committing to something I wasn’t sure we could deliver on; while I always believed that the Mothership sessions had the ability to inspire, to serve as nourishing and creative spaces, could meaningful work be produced actually there in the room? Could people concentrate enough, against the baby soundtrack, to tap into a feeling and set it down on paper in a timed exercise – writing from the hip, with a child on the other? The answer is a resounding YES.

Today I’m both happy and proud to be sharing three pieces from our Mothership workshops. One was produced while the mum was up on her feet, her baby fully-awake in a front-facing sling, her notebook stretched out before her – writing into air. By hook or by crook! What was it that Cyril Connolly said, ‘there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall’? Whatevs, Cyril.

The work here is inspired by Julia Darling’s beautiful poem Advice For My Daughters, which was originally published in Indelible, Miraculous (ARC, 2015) and also appears in the fantastic anthology Writing Motherhood, edited by Carolyn Jess-Cooke (Seren, 2017). Last week we read Advice For My Daughters, then, in a short timed exercise, the group wrote their own pieces of advice. Here we have advice for a daughter, advice for a son, and, lastly, advice from a son to his mother. All three of these pieces were read aloud in the sessions – to tears, to applause. Big thanks to Mothership Writers Eleanor, Helena, and Maria for the permission. And thank you, wonderful and wise Julia Darling, for the inspiration.

I have no advice for you. 
I can help you with pensions, and with your hair. 
I will save and save and save 
My money, and my time, and every last ounce of my body,
for you. 
This world is a swirling vortex 
and I cannot tell you whether to root yourself deep, bracing against the wind,
Or to take the deepest breath, and
Throw yourself over the edge. 
I will tell you that I am weak and your father is split down the middle but our love is
May it fill you up, every crevice and every star. 
I cannot make you happy, or strong. 
I have given you life. 
My advice? 

Eleanor Shaw

Be kind, and know you are loved.
Of all the things I could teach you, know this:
Be kind, and know you are loved.
People will challenge and change and delight you
So be kind, and know you are loved.
Places to go can be fun, dull or scary
So be kind, and know you are loved.
We will not always know what to do, or to say
So be kind, and know you are loved. 

Helena Hoyle

Be calm, Mum
Everything is fine
You can relax

I am here - and I am happy

All I need is for you to love me
And you do that well

I am fat and simple
And it is good
The world is still a place of presents and immediates
Of here and nows
This is real life
Will you join me?

Be happy and be here, Mum
That is all I want
That and nothing more

Maria Hodson