TBR: Literary Mama

Today’s book is Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, edited by Andrea J. Buchanan & Amy Hudock.  Specifically, this is one of the stops on Buchanan’s blog book tour.

The anthology is a selection of writing — poetry, memoir, fiction — from the Literary Mama website, and it’s truly a delight.  The first poem, Pregnancy, by Lori Romero, made me grin with recognition.  Johnny, by Heidi Raykeil, made me cry openly on the metro, wiping my nose on my coat sleeve because I didn’t have a tissue.  The authors write about the first day of school, and watching a grown child pack to leave the house.  They write about wrestling with the legacy of imperfect parenting handed down from their parents, and they write about parenting as imperfect humans themselves.

Some of the pieces made me nod, yes, that’s it, some seemed like maps to the strange countries I have yet to explore, and some made me wonder at how different my experience is from the authors’.  Barbara Crooker writes:

But to work is to abandon
to indifferent, casual hands,
what I, the potter, have worked
this demi-decade to achieve in you,
soft claygirl.

For me, one of the surprises of parenting has been how much my children are their own people, how little I feel that I am molding them.

In the introduction, Buchanan and Hudock discuss the conflicts between writing and motherhood.  I feel compelled to point out that writing is more compatible with motherhood than many careers.  The real problem is that (in most cases) it doesn’t pay very well, making it challenging to justify spending the money for child care in order to do it.  Furthermore, because writing doesn’t require you to leave home at set hours, many parents are tempted into thinking that they can be writers without having someone else provide child care.  And of course when you’re trying to squeeze anything into the margins of the day, you’re going to be cramped and frazzled.  But I really don’t think the conflict is something unique about writing.

2 Responses to “TBR: Literary Mama”

  1. bj Says:

    The Crooker poem goes on to say :
    “But these five years are spent, idle, and gone
    with but a handful of poems to show.
    No publications from Antaeus to Xanadu,
    but you, my poemchild,
    whose smile is all my sonnets.”
    I don’t think it’s necessarily meant that way, but I’m with you, in not thinking of my children as my creation. They seem so very much their own creation, and it seems dangerous to tread in the territory of thinking they are my creation. Because, I do, actually create some things, be it my work, or the occasional painting, or even these posts. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at some of them, and frustration at some. But the bottom line is that I feel ownership for my creations.
    I (and I’m not stating that Crooker or anyone feels this way) think that it is extremely dangerous to start thinking that your children replace your other things you actually do create. When children distract you from the poems you would have written, it seems fine to acknowledge that, but dangerous to believe that the children replace the sonnett. [again, I’m using the poem as a point for discussion, OK?]

  2. Beanie Baby Says:

    I would agree that it’s dangerous–but more because, what happens when the kid does something wrong? Is that our fault? I mean, isn’t it kind of buying into the whole culture of motherblaming if we take ownership of our kids as our creations?
    And I have to say that “indifferent, casual hands” really rubbed me the wrong way–Frances’s daycare worker is constantly threatening to take her home for a weekend sometime because she loves her to death. She is NOT indifferent or casual; she’s committed and very loving. I hope that was just a statement on the author’s personal situation.

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