Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

We were warned about this by the director of the adoption agency: Eventually your daughter will have questions about her “bio-mom.” Do not vilify this individual. Explain, instead, how China’s one-child policy—with its preference for male heirs—forced a fearful woman to abandon a child she loved.

Would he like all of the books I picked out? Would he see the collection as a gift or a burden? Knowing that I could not control his reactions, I vowed to continue making these annual selections, while letting go of any expectations about how they might be received. I kept the first part of my vow.

After we agree, doctors turn off the machines,
leave our children and me alone in his ICU cubicle,
but it’s not quiet—something still hums:
his tremulous pulse, the mechanical bed—
or something at work in me.

Welcome to the November issue of Literary Mama. This month, many of our writers are looking back, letting go, and moving on. We hope you find these pieces as inspirational as we do.

Years ago, I taught this one to tie his sneakers, carve a pumpkin, kick a soccer ball, hold a kitten, and fend off a bully on the school bus. Now he thinks he knows it all.

The great lie, here, is that in ''having it all,'' we have sacrificed nothing. In reality, we've sacrificed the act of choice itself.

Clearly, he loved that he had my trust, loved that moment of being on his own and striding forward in his life.

I sit upright, surreptitiously clutching the door handle, grateful that this is the last son I'll have to teach to drive.

The seemingly impossible feat was leaving. Her tires rolled away from the house, children waving from the porch.

My eight-year-old daughter wants to know where her mother is.

What I planned as a thoughtfully chosen, ongoing gift that reflects his personality could completely miss the mark.

Something within still resists the surrenders that can feel like deaths—in parenting, in creative work.

For this special #NaNoWriMo edition of Essential Reading, "The Creative Crunch," our staff and readers recommend books that nudge us to be creative or productive.

Oh, things unfinished. She hears her girls crying her home, / but she can’t go, won’t go, her heart is a wildfire—

A snowstorm blows outside my window; / my eyes water, I stir onions and loss.

we can see it’s a map she’s been making of what we / must lose before leaving.

before all sound stops, / and I’m left alone, / the phone dead in my hand.

Writer and founder of The unPrison Project, Deborah Jiang-Stein discusses the role of memoir in literature, excavation of memory, and her vision and hope for incarcerated women and their children.

Michelle Herman's wit, lyricism, and sharp insight shines through her latest collection of essays as she recounts her ongoing relationship with music as well as her evolving bond with her daughter.