Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

Keep celebrating Mother’s Day with the May issue of Literary Mama!

“We wanted to get married, but his dad thought we were too young. If he’d let us get married . . .” Her voice trailed off, heavy with sadness. The regret in her voice made me uncomfortable. Talking with Mom about her love for another man felt disloyal to my dad, asleep just down the hall. And it was clear that Mom had been in love: Only real love could yield so much sorrow.

Was it
your gift or your mother’s or her
mother’s, passing hand to hand through
centuries of women, more fit for decoration
than hunger?

They are old enough to know better—I justify midshriek—the sound shocking even me. Their eyes are wide and distant as Jupiter’s moons.


No one is guaranteed a second summer on this earth.


"Kenna hora," my mother used to say, a Yiddish phrase that asks the evil eye to look away.

A new emotion settled over me: an inexplicable sadness, as if years of sorrow were pressing on my heart.


Knitting or no knitting, I had to accept that my mother was floating away on a timetable of her own.


I was 19, and tonight was the first time my mother had spoken to me as another woman, not just as her daughter.

It's the funeral that changes everything. Not the death. Not the indescribable emptiness death burrows through those left behind.

Cheryl Strayed writes about being embarrassed by her mother’s favorite book, The Novel, in her book, Wild. She later realizes the error in her thinking and becomes ashamed of her own thoughts, that her reading choices are superior. That scene stood out for me as …


The circle of mothering and daughtering spirals and twists, snags and confounds, comes round.

It must have been spring. / There's the smell of wet earth, / the absence of cold.


Is he the donkey / you pin in your mind— / a boy with your lover's eyes


Too small for soup, too valuable for every day, / I remember you polishing and polishing


Mother liked to nap / so I stayed quiet with Grandpa behind the curtain. It was like a little house / in there


On Tuesdays I pick up Max at preschool / and bring him back to my house / and give him a snack and he plays


One grabs the other's ball or doll, clashing as old as time but tonight I snap


Americans eat enough hotdogs / (Every year? Every year!) / to go to the moon and back 257 times.

Author Rebecca Barry shares her thoughts on finding balance and doing what you love.

Maggie Nelson's philosophical memoir that explores life and language while confronting the status quo of binary thinking.


A collection of letters and journal entries by Rebecca Barry about trying to write with a baby in each arm.