Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

This month we celebrate Father’s Day. We are grateful to the enthusiastic dads who taught us to ride bikes or make art or play football, the courageous dads who joined the military to fight for their country, the loyal dads …

In honor of Father’s Day, in this month’s Essential Reading we are featuring books by male authors writing about life, parenting, and coming of age.

But I have decided, or at least I hope, that maybe the Hero Myth can have more than one script. Maybe the mere act of mothering—loving our children, trying to do best by them, even when it breaks our heart—is heroic enough.

You know the truth: you can never be the hero, and not only because you let your son enter that den of pizza. Self-congratulation feels false, itchy, after all the time you’ve spent convinced that everything wrong with Zack is your fault.


"You have a teenager who’s transgender. How is that working out?"


I yearned to be like the Hero Mothers I had seen in movies and read about in magazines. Their hearts seemed filled with courage. Mine knew only fear.

But you find reasons not to call, as you have ever since Zack started showing signs of autism. You don't like how you feel when you and Zack spend time with a mother and her normal child: it chips at your facade.

I'm running. Dad is awkwardly hunched, holding my hand, loping alongside me, a clean-shaved, young father smiling at his little boy.

We are honoring fathers with our reading recommendations this month.


The act of giving books to those we care for is something of a compressed, but explosively powerful, shorthand for connection.

...the warmth of my father's voice / as cozy as the rooms he'd heated / summoned me to breakfast, / my feet scurrying across the thawed, wooden floorboards.


and I am thirteen again,/ back in your old green pickup, ripped / seats, empty coke bottle, your spittoon, sour / smell rising up in August heat.


"Dad, will you be home tonight?"/ And I just know Bismarck looked like this when he was four,/ in his PJs and miniature spiked helmet.


He is my father, a stranger with my teeth, / jagged bone-white peaks. Eight visible blades / of a smile; eight flames of the menorah.


Brand new baby, nursing/ from my full breast in// the crook of my elbow,/ half drinking, half dreaming, // me wondering if his dad/ will ever hold him...

One thing I've learned in writing memoir is that no matter what, someone will take issue with you.


If I can write and others want to read what I write, I feel like the success will take care of itself.

When the coins are flipped in Motherhood, there is no definite answer, but rather more questions that lead the reader into deeper engagement with what it means to choose to have (or not to have) a child.


Little Million Doors by Chad Sweeny is an elegy mourning the death of his father. In this lyrical book-long poem, Sweeny breaks traditional barriers of language to draw a multifaceted portrait of grief.