Last year at this time I was exploring my story in an online writing workshop offered by Mothering. We wrote and re-wrote our “mothering monolgues,” as we called them, for publication on Mothering.com on Mother’s Day. Maybe you read these mini-memoirs last year. Maybe you saw your story in parts of what those women wrote.
My story ended up feeling too personal to publish, but I kept writing. And I found myself seeking out other stories mothers had written about their journeys. One that particularly stood out to me was Guarding the Moon by Francesca Lia Block. I’d loved her fiction, with its hip magical realism for years (I blogged about it recently on Proper Noun Blog in a post called What fairy tales can teach us), but I’d overlooked her memoir of motherhood.
This small book is filled with vignettes about how Block’s life changed upon the birth of her daughter from her overwhelming love for her baby, her evolving relationship with her husband, and her uncertainty about separating from her baby to write or take time for herself. Most moms can probably relate to these sentiments, but Mothering mamas are especially likely to appreciate her descriptions of breastfeeding or perhaps empathize with her uncertainty about co-sleeping, which feels right but isn’t in the mainstream. It reads like a poem. It won’t speak to everyone, but perhaps it will speak to you.
I would also recommend Child of Mine: Writers Talk About Their First Year of Motherhood for a literary look at the complexity of becoming a mother. The book features essays from a numbers of different women in various situations, but most of these writers were career women who came to motherhood later or unexpectedly. They write of fears and isolation as well as of joy and love. Christina Baker Kline, the editor of the collection, writes in the introduction of her desire to proivde women with the community they need during the first year of motherhood. She writes, “With a craving as urgent as my longing for chocolate in the early stages of pregnancy, I want to hear the voices of other new mothers telling me I’m not crazy–or alone.” I imagine this is why we’re reading blogs like All Things Mothering and visiting the Mothering community. Kline continues,
“To a large extent, many of us feel that we can’t talk about the parts of our mothering experiences that touch us most deeply. Without a clear sense of direction, it is easy to get lost in the maze of expectations, spoken and unspoken, others have of you. Fearing that we are abnormal, demented, or weird, it is easier for many of us to remain silent about our deepest fears and darkest thoughts, and even to deny that we have them.”
This Mother’s Day tell your story. Read another mother’s story. We aren’t crazy. We aren’t alone.