Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

To many, the image of a pregnant woman symbolizes not only motherhood but also, the desire for motherhood. And really: what’s more joyful than a photo of a newborn or one of a woman gently caressing her pregnant belly? Yet, what image might be more frightening to a woman who is facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy? Or more

Her name will be Victoria. Blond hair and pointy chin and please
don’t look like my mother-in- law.
She will cuddle and curl her toes and be mama’s girl.
She will love musty smells and running barefoot.
She will be a professor, a poet, a gymnast.

Blood test. Missing chromosome. Likely to miscarry.

To raise a child is to ask for heartache and happiness in equal measure and Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton is a reflection on the sacrifices that all mothers have made for their families in past and continue to make in the present.

To speak about family trauma is not enough. My job as a memoirist was to do more than simply dump a lot of anguish in the reader’s lap; my job was to stay with it and muck with the tangled emotions, to do the hard work of making sense of those events both for the child in the book and for the reader.


The 30-minute trip feels like the longest car ride of my life. In the circular conversation, I’m beginning to understand that Margaret truly believes she’s a boy—and has suffered with this thought for a long time.


Since I became a mother 24 years ago, the call to help children in need has followed me everywhere, boring a tiny hole in my motherhood.

We stumble out of the neurologist’s office. Juan squeezes my hand as we walk to the A train. We don’t talk until we get down into the subway.


When I married her only son ten years ago, my mother-in-law welcomed me into the family. I had no living mother. She had no daughter. Each of us filled a long shadow in the other’s life.

I pull off my shoes, sliding my feet through the sand as I make my way to the water’s edge, where I stand very still, trying to decide which way to go.


My mother always comes home from work late, but this summer she's been coming home even later.

I​ ​did​ ​not​ ​simply​ ​forget​ the​ ​children's​ ​books.​ ​​On​ ​the​ ​contrary,​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​long​ ​and​ ​hard​ ​about​ ​what​ ​to​ ​do with​ ​them.


In this month's Essential Reading, we're talking about desiring motherhood.

You were the size of an orange seed / when I miscarried, still too small / to see on an ultrasound.


Today my body does not want to write poetry. / It wants to scrape every rind of intestine, / stomach, those old wrung-out towels the kidneys –


if i have a daughter who is / anything like me— / dark hair, light eyes, / full cheeks, crooked nose, / rose lips, restless hands—


“I want her back when you’re done.” / They will toss you out, flush you down.


She will love musty smells and running barefoot. / She will be a professor, a poet, a gymnast. // Blood test. Missing chromosome. Likely to miscarry.


I will take you to the Atlantic first, to the island / where I was born

Margaret Combs discusses writing memoir, growing up with an autistic sibling, and how that experience affected her as a mother.


Feder speaks about her path to becoming a published author, childhood fears, and the literacy problem the U.S. faces today.

Janet Benton's novel tells the story of an unwed mother who leaves the conventions of the late nineteenth century behind in order to protect her child.