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Words that people used to describe how they felt after a reading group were:

Reflective,comforted, inspired, refreshed, energised, heard, reassured, relieved, stimulated, thoughtful, understood, grateful, supported, invigorated, happy, more confident, calm, positive, validated, enlightened, introspective, peace, fulfilled.

How did we get here?

Sleep-deprived and shell-shocked by new motherhood, and a few weeks after the birth of her first child, Rebecca chanced upon Morning Song by Sylvia Plath. Rebecca has been fascinated by motherhood writing ever since. Following this, and through her work in the public library service and already with a background in Discourse Analysis, she became interested in shared reading groups. She ran her first group for new mums and their babies in the summer of 2019. The group members still meet today.

Beth has a background in the NHS and public health research. When across the Atlantic on maternity leave with a newborn in lockdown, Beth was drawn to meaningful writings about motherhood. She set about forming a reading group amongst her own friends and searched high and low for other groups. Beth met Rebecca when she found her virtual reading groups and participated (in the middle of the night!) in two groups. Having gained so much from these reading groups in 2020 and recognising the huge potential benefit to new parents, Beth and Rebecca joined forces: M/OTHERWORDS was born!

In 2022, we were awarded a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England to expand M/OTHERWORDS to run more GROUPS, commission original pieces of writing about motherhood (ORIGINALS) and provide a space online for people to contribute their own responses to pieces of writing (RE/VERB).

We use a wide range of writings on motherhood – from light-hearted to reassuring, and serious to inspiring and surprising. There are poems, extracts from memoirs, novels and journals; we refer to both the historical and the cultural; we take on writers who are well-known as well as the less often found; we cover different emotions, situations and experiences — all of it connected to motherhood.

People attending our groups told us:

  • M/OTHERWORDS is unique
  • It’s stimulating
  • It’s a welcome break from nappies and feeding
  • The time for oneself and for reflection is so valuable
  • Connecting with others is powerful
  • Hearing different perspectives is always useful
  • A relaxed atmosphere, allowing for breaks away at any point, is essential
  • Joining with baby and no advance reading is essential
  • The fact there’s no reading aloud or pressure to speak removes joining anxiety …

Our current groups are Reading into Motherhood and Musing on Motherhood.

We value everyone’s words about motherhood and hope you will join us on the read!

Rebecca and Beth – co-founders of M/OTHERWORDS

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