Poem of the day | Being Present For The Little Moments
For the past 12 years, Sam has been writing short poems every day about the joys and challenges of motherhood. Her words capture the beauty, complexity, and unconditional love that come with raising a family. Through her writing, Sam hopes to connect with other mothers and share her experiences with the world. Whether she is celebrating her children’s milestones or reflecting on the struggles of motherhood, Sam’s poetry is a testament to the strength and resilience of mothers everywhere.
Poet Samantha Reynolds on how she has tricked herself into being a more present mother and also how she has used writing a poem every day as a way of documenting little moments.
Jen: Welcome to MomCave LIVE where we may have lost our minds, but we haven’t lost our sense of humor. I am Jen and our guest today is Samantha Reynolds. And she’s gonna pop on the camera any second. Hi, Samantha.
Samantha Reynolds: Hello. Hi, Jen.
Jen: Are you a SAM or Samantha?
Samantha Reynolds: I’m totally a Sam. Yeah, I’ll clean my room if you call me Samantha.
Jen: Good. I want to be like, you know, casual. So I felt like Sam is much more than smart, casual. Cool. Okay, so. So if you don’t know who Sam is, she goes by the nom de plume- Is that how you say it? The very fancy way of saying her writer’s name. Her name is Bent Lily on Instagram. And despite being a mom like the rest of us and having a real job and everything, Sam writes a poem every single day for how many years now?
Samantha Reynolds: Well, I can count because my son‘s 12. So yeah, 12 years. Holy…
Jen: Holy moly. Okay. That’s there’s so much to unpack there. And I can’t wait to do it. Janice said hello from the Bronx. Hey, hello, Janice. If you have any questions for Sam, just pop them in the comments, and I will read them out loud. So, Sam, okay, tell me about when did poetry start?
Samantha Reynolds: So I was given advice. I don’t know if you remember this, but I was get advice when I was pregnant. Like this first year of you being a mom, and this first year of your new baby’s life. It’s so fleeting, like it’s gonna fly by, before you know it, it’ll be gone. And really,it might be hard, but like, really try to savor it. Because, you know, before you know it, you know, this little like infant phase will be over. And I was on deck for it. Like I’d you know, I’ve been reading, doing yoga. I was like, ready, I was like, I’m gonna meditate my way through this, I’m really going to be observing. Sorry, I’m–
Jen: I’m laughing at you after you…. Go on.
Samantha Reynolds: And then you know, like it was it actually in some ways, it wasn’t… He was a pretty good sleeper. Like, it wasn’t hard in the ways I expected. I know, for it to be hard. It was just so much more tedious than I expected. And I was really like It made me really sad. Because I was like, this isn’t grueling. It’s just kind of boring. Right?
And, and then I thought, well, maybe there’s like another way to, I don’t know, to, make the best of this, this time. And for me, as a writer, if I’m writing, I’m observing. And I thought if I take time to slow down in some ways, rather than just administering to this new little person. Like maybe there’s some wonder in the mix of kind of all the sameness of the day after day. Yeah.
And I thought maybe I’ll journal and then I thought, that seems sort of like an amorphous idea. aI thought, oh, maybe I’ll just write like one short poem every day about whatever. And it’ll kind of like hone in my observing instincts again. And it was really beautiful.
It was this really like, and I didn’t, and I still don’t really put a ton of pressure on myself to be writing a poem every day. So like, I’m not expecting any one poem to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece of work. It’s just like, it’s a way of being creative. It’s a way of noticing the little details that otherwise would just be missed. And it makes me see the humor in situations that otherwise I would not. I mean, I still get irritable, as we all do, but sometimes, instead of losing my mind, sometimes I’m like, this is actually hilarious. And I’m sort of in the moment more. So yeah, so I just kept going, I just never stopped there. So
How parenting helps you find the magical and the mundane in motherhood.
Jen: Okay, I have a lot to say about that. First, I want to say Instagram people, I hear you, they say they can hear me, but not Sam. Oh, I can’t hear Sam. And she’s going to try to adjust something. But if that doesn’t work, go over to facebook.com/momcaveTV, and we’re also streaming there. And we’re also on YouTube.com/MomCave.
Jen: So first of all, I listened to another interview with you earlier today, you know, to do my homework, and you used a great phrase. You said it helps you find “the magical in the mundane.” And that’s like, that is the epitome of motherhood. I gotta tell you, because it feels, yeah, the days feel so mundane, but it’s also the most magical thing in the world that you have another human that you are raising to be an adult human. Right? So that’s huge.This is the question, how did you write a poem every single day, especially in those early times with a baby?
Samantha Reynolds: Yeah, um, not very, like romantically. So I didn’t like, I don’t have a quill. I don’t have a beautiful moleskin journal. I have my phone with me at all times, basically. And so as I’m going about my day, something will catch my eye. And I’ll just like, I have a little notes folder on my phone. And I’ll just write a few things down on my phone.
And then for me, I’m a bit of a night owl. And so it was always… the longest stretch of sleep was usually at night for the kid. And so I’d put him down. And then I would just like very UN-ergonomically, in an awkward position, I would just open my laptop, wherever I was. Sometimes, like, in, you know, his room or wherever. And I would just punch out a poem.
And it was really about the act of it. I didn’t sweat over it. It was like, yeah, 15 or 20 minutes. It was really the act of it. And I didn’t share them at all in the beginning, either. It was really just like, I only started sharing them because I needed to be accountable to somebody. A friend, my friend, Keith, was like, “Create a little blog.” And he showed me how to do it.
Yeah, it was just for him as sort of my first reader, and then, and he was like, “Yo, Sam, these are really beautiful. You should do something.” And so he helped me share them a bit more broadly. And then it became this beautiful kind of public expression of creativity and a little bit of like, I mean, I don’t share everything. I am mindful that I am writing about my kids and my husband. And so there’s, I share a lot. But I’m mindful not to share absolutely everything but at least something every day.
Poetry is an art form, but it’s also a powerful tool to use in raising your children
Jen: Yeah, it’s so nice that you make what is. So it’s an art form. And a lot of people might have different art forms that they do. Not poetry, maybe someone paints or knits or whatever you do…. dances. So many times when we become a mother, our art form is like the first thing to go. Because nobody thinks of this as essential, right? And you have found a way to keep it.
But also, as you said, you don’t have a quill. When I first heard “poet” I’m thinking you’re like, up in a tower somewhere writing these things about like, despair. And motherhood isn’t often the most, you know, poetry-friendly thing. Everybody kind of thinks again that it’s mundane, but you’ve found a way to make this work and to bring this art to your everyday life.
So would you mind reading one of your poems for us? Yeah. Okay, this one I really identify with and I just think it’s, it’s your poems are very, very varied. Is that a thing you can say very varied? In style and subject, in length. And I picked a couple of short ones, which you could check out. “The Hazards of Rushing Around.” I feel that today,
Samantha Reynolds: Okay. Yeah, so hilariously, I have to lean in because I do not have my glasses. So I’m gonna do my best. If I can actually get this on my screen. So, it’s a short one.
“The Hazards of Rushing Around.”
She rushes around, but not like a chicken without a head. She is more efficient and dangerous. This is a train thundering past her own life without a driver.
Jen: Nice. So many of us can identify with that. We’re all rushing around. And there’s not only does it make you exhausted crazy stressed out and feel like you’re failing and everything. When I say “you,” I mean me. Everyone may feel that way. But there’s also like this power in it sometimes to well, I’m rushing around because I am doing all the things and I am doing them. Like it sucks, but they’re getting done. And I’m the person in charge of the doing of all the things. So there’s a power in that?
Samantha Reynolds: Yeah. Yeah, no, for sure. And there is, you know, I’m mindful of making sure the poem in some ways isn’t one more item on my to-do list. Like, that’s the other piece. And so for me, I guess the other aspect of this is that the poem is… I do love to write and the act of creating something every day is really fulfilling.
It’s a part of my identity, I really enjoy it. But the way that it kind of torques my way of being in a day to be more observant is actually the point. Like, that is the point. And that’s not really blissfully not an item on a to-do list that gets checked off.
I’m, like, no Zen master, like going about my life in like, you know, harmony with everything. But it like, it raises my frequency, like even a little so that I am just like less brittle in the world and more in it. Yeah, it is. Because otherwise, yeah, I also run a company, you know, life is busy. And so I don’t want the poem to fall prey to that kind of hazards of rushing around.
How Poems helped Sam find the magical and the mundane.
Jen: Right? I love to picture you writing the poem on different days. So a quiet day of in fact, you know, a day where you’re like, “Oh, my God, all I want, my eyes are closing, I’m gonna fall asleep. Like I want to write the poem. I want to do it.” I like to picture that.
I have a question about what is the weirdest place or circumstance that you were in and wrote the poem? Like you didn’t have something to write on? And you wrote it somewhere, or you’re in a bizarre location, and you had to do your poem?
Samantha Reynolds: I would say Mmm Hmm, good question. I wrote a poem–this is a little bit… So I wrote a poem when I really should have been listening to a speaker which feels like a bad thing to do because I also am a speaker and I would feel insulted if someone was multitasking. But I did do that. Like like furtively under the table.
Let’s see, I have written a lot of poems. So the bathroom is the only room in our house that locks so I’d like pretended to need to use the bathroom. Yeah. Yeah. Many poems were written in our bathroom. As the kids get older, too, like they fall asleep later than I do sometimes. I have less of that like sacred time at night. Yeah. Yeah. Bathroom poems. Have I written a poem in a public bathroom? Maybe? Maybe?
Jen: I think you should compile a book just called “Bathroom Poems.” Yes. Just the bathroom ones.
Samantha Reynolds: There are poems about bathroom things, too. Like, yeah, there’s,
Jen: That brings me to something I wanted to ask you about? Because on MomCave we never shy away from bathroom things. Anyway, right?
Um, I heard that you wrote a poem about your son’s fascination and demand to see a used tampon. Oh, yeah. You don’t have to read the poem here. Or I’d make you like act it out. You could do an artistic dance and what’s it called? Interpretive, whatever. Yeah, interpretive tampon dancing would definitely go over on MomCave LIVE next time. Totally. Tell me about that.
Samantha Reynolds: Yeah, so um, you know, every once in a while, like I try to be honest in what I write about. But I’m a bit of a people pleaser. I really do have the nicest community of readers. So I really don’t get the hate back ever. But I was like, “I wonder if I’m gonna get judged if I share this?”
So it was one of the ones it was one of the moments that I wrote a poem about and I really did deliberate. Should I share this or will people really like flag me? Right? And it was basically that my son… God, he would have been like seven or something at the time. And, I was like behind our locked bathroom door. I’m changing my tampon and he asked if he could come in. I was like “No Bubsy, and I’m just, I’m busy. I’ve got my period. And I need a moment.”
And he was like, “Well, can I see it?” And I was like, “Why wouldn’t I say yes to this?” Am I ashamed? Is it weird? Is it too intimate? Is it like inappropriate? Or is it actually really, like the wrong thing to cultivate in him, like a disgust about something that’s totally natural?
And so like, you know, I had like, 40,000 thoughts going on at once. And then I just, I was, like, you know, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna go with my instinct here. And I’m going to show it to him. And I did. And it was written in the poem.
Ya know, he was like kind of matter of fact, was, like, “It sort of looks like a, like, a half-eaten hot dog.” And I was, like, “Fair.” And then he was like, you know, like, just moving along with his day. Like, he asked to see something. I showed it to him. He moved along.
And then I wrote, and then I shared the poem in the end, and it was such a beautiful moment, because I got this swell of just like, people saying, you know thanks for sharing that. And I got none of what I was, like, afraid of which was like, “You’re a disgusting person. And you should be locked away.” I get none of that.
Kids don’t have the same cultural and social judgments that adults do.
Jen: You must have the best followers ever. But I think you did the right thing. Because you don’t want to hide things from children. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t want them to have like a sense of gross shame about something that’s so natural, right?
eah, my mom was really good about that. Like, I don’t remember learning about a lot of like, the first time having “The Talk” because she was always just so open. Which some of my friends think is weird and disgusting, but it worked for us. Yeah. We have a comment from Ronnie saying, “I love that kids don’t have the same cultural social judgments that adults do.”
That is very true. I had a comment up on the screen, I’ll put it up again, this is the URL if you wanted to find the poem about a tampon. I kind of love saying that. So check it out.
Um, I had a moment in public like that with my son. And he was like three or four. And we were in a very crowded CVS in Manhattan. There was a line of people behind me, probably 20 people behind me, and we were checking out at the checkout, and I had like three items, and one of them happened to be a box of tampons. And as I pushed it toward the cashier, my child said in the loudest voice possible to the cashier, “They’re for her butt!”
It was like, well, close. Um not exactly. And the people are laughing and it was humiliating, but also now one of my favorite memories with my son because to him, it wasn’t like anything to be embarrassed about. It was kind of interesting to him.
Samantha Reynolds: That reminds me of my son, when I was pregnant with my daughter, he would have also been about three and, you know, I put on like a healthy amount of weight. I was pregnant. And he saw me getting into the shower, and he looked at me kind of from behind and he was like, “Mama, are you also pregnant in your bum?” No….
Samantha Reynolds: Good question, but yeah.
Jen: He was a kid. Yeah, totally. We have a question for you from Mikaela. Do your kids enjoy your poems? Do you have a favorite?…. Kid or poem, Mikaela? I think she means poem.
Samantha Reynolds: Yeah, you know, they do. They like me to sometimes read my poems when they have friends over and poems are about them. Yeah, which is super sweet. And they feel, I think…. They’re 12 and nine right now, so they still feel kind of like a bit excited and honored. I think when I read a poem about them, and they’ll sometimes be like, “Oh, mom, that’s total poem moment!” Maybe. I actually don’t know always what’s going to come out and I don’t like I said, I try not to sweat over it because like, I really wouldn’t get it done if I like, made it a big thing. “Ah what should I write about today?”
So sometimes they’re like, “Oh, that was classic!”And if it didn’t morph into a poem and they feel a bit insulted. I’m aware, you know, as they move in their teenage years, you know, they might come down and just say, “No more poems about me” and that’s okay. And I share some photos, you know, on my Instagram of them because, again, the community of family readers just seems to like it. Yeah, they kind of just love getting to know us as a family. I think a little bit, without it being any weird sort of reality weirdness.
Do you have a favorite poem of the day?
Jen: Not like the Kardashians.
Samantha Reynolds: We’re not that interesting. But, they may decide they don’t want me to write about them. And that will be okay.
And, yeah, the question of Do I have a favorite poem? I don’t. I have the poem that’s behind me. It’s not, it’s not necessarily my favorite poem. I do love it. But it’s meaningful to me. It doesn’t have anything to do with parenting, but it’s meaningful because so many people have just done really beautiful things with it like it was. It was made into a short film. Many, many, many, like countless people have read it. They ask for permission to read it at funerals and wow. Like, just really like weepy bawling, ugly cry experience.
Jen: What is that one called? So I can read it afterward?
Samantha Reynolds: Oh, yeah. It’s called, “I am not Old.”
Jen: Oh, my God, I need to read that right away. That’s great. That’s lovely. I have another short one of yours. Oh, you have a lovely person who’s putting all the links to the poems in the comments! Shahla is putting all of the URLs of the poems. Thank you. I’m gonna check that one out.
Samantha Reynolds: Shahla is the designer. She does all the artwork for all my poems. And not only that, she posts everything for me. I couldn’t do any of it without her.
“I’m getting so big, but my soul still feels so small.”
Amazing. If you go and look at Sam’s Instagram account, you know, it’s not just a blank space with some words on it. They’re all designed with this beautiful artwork. And now we know that Shahla did it. And they’re great. Would you be able to read this one? Or is it too small for you?
Samantha Reynolds: If I can, okay, I’m going to go away from the screen. Okay.
My son looked at his feet today, as though the long slabs of skin and bone had stretched beneath him overnight. And he said, tears at the edge of his voice, Mama, I’m getting so big, but my soul still feels so small.
Reflecting on Parenting, Poems of Love
Jen: That’s lovely. Little dude. That’s so lovely. And that, you know, that bittersweetness of they’re getting older, but they’re still our children.
Samantha Reynolds: And they still feel that. I know my kids like being little. . They feel like they’re stretching almost past their inner age or something like their inner age feels littler than their height? I don’t know.
Jen: Well I feel that way. I don’t know about you, but like, I don’t. Inside, I’m still, I’m more the person I was at, like 12. I mean, I feel like that’s when I don’t know.
And so sometimes you look around, you’re like, “Oh my God. I’m the grown-up here now?” You know, “Yeah, I’m in charge?” But yeah, we are who we are. That’s amazing.
I had another question I wanted to ask you. And I hope you’ll be honest. Yeah. Of course, you’re so honest all the time…. You told me about the tampons! So Have you ever missed a day and had to write two poems the next day?
Samantha Reynolds: Yes, totally.
Jen: Thank God because I was gonna be like, “I don’t know if I can live up to that!”
Samantha Reynolds: What I do- I’m a little Type A, And also, I feel like if I give myself permission to miss, then it’ll be like a slippery slope, and I’ll stop. So what I do is I write a scrap, like the scrappiest version, which truly might be, you know, like one sentence. So it’s the start of something. And it’s just yeah… Like I’ve fallen asleep before. Right? And gotten up and been like, “I don’t have it in me to re-alert myself.” But just a little scrap comes out and then it’s like, “Okay, I’ve done something.” Yeah, yeah.
Keeping your identity as a mother
Jen: It sounds like so many things. H=You know, if you can just do a little bit of it, at least you tried that day, if you’re trying to do something on a daily basis. I used to dance while growing up. And a few years ago, I started taking ballet again. And then during the pandemic, I started being like, “I’m going to do Zoom ballet every day.” And I have done some kind of ballet every day since then. But sometimes it’s literally like, you know, two minutes, hurry up, get on the floor and stretch. And then some days, it’s the whole class, but at least you’ve like, “Okay, I did something. I made forward movement.” And that applies to things like decluttering your house, all the other stuff we do every day, right? Just like a little movement.
Samantha Reynolds: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Jen: I think you’re a very interesting person. And I wish you lived next door. And I’m going to be reading this every day from now on, you guys. You can find Sam. Her Instagram name is Bent Lily, like the flower. And that’s also your website, I believe is it… bentlily.com You can go to bentlily.com to learn more about her.
There’s merch. There are shirts and things you can buy with these beautiful poems on them. And I would have read more but I don’t want people to be bored of me online. But I had a bunch that I loved.
So thank you for talking with me. You guys go check out BentLily.com. And be inspired that even if you’re exhausted, even if you’re fed up, you could do a little bit of something. A little bit of something for you today.
Samantha Reynolds: Yeah, and thanks for just being so funny. Jen. That laughing is. Yeah, it’s kind of everything. So often it’s everything and it’s a beautiful gift.
Jen: You are so welcome. Thank you, guys. And now of course I’m Jen from MomCave, momcavetv.com and @MomCave on all the places and I don’t write poems every day.
Listen to this as a podcast:
- Sample the Sweetness of Parenthood with These Freebies for Expecting Moms - August 3, 2023
- Summer Survival for Moms: Hilarious Moments with Meredith Masony - July 31, 2023
- How To Use Stress To Improve Your Life - July 13, 2023