Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
What Mothers Are Talking About

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Well, the mother writer community has been busy in January. Between the book tours for the Literary Mama anthology and a series of Mother Talks, bookstores, coffee houses and, yes, even bars (or perhaps especially bars), have been filled with Literary Mamas.

Seattle played host to 2 readings in January as well as a Mother Talk. The first reading was at Queen Anne books on January 8 and featured Andrea Buchanan, Marjorie Osterhout of MomBrain, Heidi Raykeil (The Naughty Mommy), Jennifer Margulis, Martha Brockenbrough, and Literary Mama anthology contributor Jennifer Munro. Andi Buchanan provides the details (with photos) in her blog entry.

The next night, Marjorie, Andi, Heidi and Jennifer Munro read at Third Place Books.

Then on to the Seattle Mother Talk where Heidi, Martha, Marjorie (who hosted) and Andi read briefly to a group of 30 mothers from all walks of life. Discussion was sparked by the various readings and topics discussed included post-baby sex, mothers' responses to pain (why there sometimes is a strange form of competition to been seen as "Most Stoic"), mothering sons and daughters, and work and motherhood. The topic of maternal judgement and mothers judging mothers arose, as it has during other Mother Talks across the US. In fact, in anticipation of the Seattle Mother Talk, Andi wrote an interesting piece about mother judgment on her blog.

After Seattle, a number of Literary Mamas hit Oakland for a reading at Diesel Books. Over 60 people came to hear readings from the Literary Mama anthology by Gayle Brandeis, Ericka Lutz, Sybil Lockhart, Susan Ito, Cathleen Daly, Jennifer Margulis, Barbara Atkinson, Rachel Sarah, Jennifer White, Rebecca Kaminsky, and Joanne Hartman.

Then Andi headed off to the Mother Talk in San Francisco, hosted by Caroline Grant. There, 19 mothers from all walks of life gathered to talk about mothering. Half of the women were writers, although interestingly don't consider themselves as such because they are not paid to write, are not published, or do not write "literary work". And so, as Caroline put it, "a big topic of conversation was the extent to which any of us is able to claim an identity other than mother -- if we don't get paid for the work we do, or only do it part time, we're thought, or even think ourselves, to be just 'dabbling.'"

The Sacramento Mother Talk was hosted by the wonderful women of Andi Buchanan and Jennifer Margulis read exerpts from their new books which kicked off a discussion on gender and social norms. The group discussed whether it was ok to write about one's children and families (they were split on this one). Jennifer Margulis's piece from It's A Boy on how birthing a son helped her to heal emotionally years after terminating a pregnancy, led to a brief discussion about abortion. Sheri Reed of, said of the evening, "I felt like we just got started and then we ended (even though we talked for several hours). There's just so much ground to cover, and I do feel mothers are hungry to talk —- even the ones with supportive families, friends, and mother groups. It's not often we get an arena to talk this way on the specific topic of mothering."

Jen Lawrence is an MBA and former banker who left the world of finance for the world of sippy cups and goldfish crackers. She writes about her experiences on her blog MUBAR (Mothered Up Beyond All Recognition). She is an Editorial Assistant for Literary Mama’s Reviews section and also contributes to the Literary Mama blog. Her work has appeared in The Philosophical Mother. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two children.

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I completely agree with what Sheri said. When it became obvious to me that the San Francisco MotherTalk was nearing its end, I couldn't believe it was ending so soon. When I got to my car and realized it was after 11 PM (Don't forget that as a tired mom I'm usually in bed by 9:30) I was amazed! I felt energized and truly could have talked and listened all night... It was a great event and I'm looking forward to the next one.
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