Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
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In last month’s column Cassie Premo Steele invited readers to submit writing on the theme of Desiring Natural Motherhood. This essay by Jessica Ellis Laine brings to light two essential aspects of “the natural” in mothering. First, that in opening ourselves to giving birth, we also open ourselves to the possibility of death. And second, that everything we take to be “natural” is also at least partially constructed by the culture and history into which we are born. Birthing the Mother Writer reader response by Cassie Premo Steele


Creative Nonfiction

You got a baby in that sack? an old man asks me, and I smile, and the old woman with him says, He’s worried the baby can’t breathe, and I smile and look down, move the fabric a little further out of her face, and the woman smiles reassuringly at the man, and the man looks sheepish, and I want to say I’m not going to kill this baby can everyone please just back off but I know that saying the words out loud will probably make me cry, and she is nestled in there so snug, she barely ever moves, and this is the problem, the doctor will later tell me, she doesn’t move.   Wry Neck by Kelly Magee


My daughter wanted a hamster — or some creature to cradle in her hands, one that would nuzzle its whiskers against her nose, take a peanut from her fingers and perform somersaults across a little trapeze. We already had two dogs and a cat, and we didn’t need another pet. But then, who really needs pets?  In Defense of the Rat by Angela Morales



They were a family in transition, and although she understood this was normal, she grieved for the way things used to be. This trip to the mall was an olive branch of sorts, but she was beginning to think she was holding the shit end of the stick.  Spring Break by Janis Hubschman


Literary Reflections

In the days leading up to talent night at my daughter’s middle school, Emily would only share that she had a short moment on stage. She had been keeping more of her personal and school life to herself; signs of teenagerhood even before reaching her teens. Since she spent most of her after-school hours in theatre workshops, my husband and I expected that she had a small part in a scene from a musical or one-act play and wanted to surprise us.  Exposed by Ellen Blum Barish and its associated writing prompt by Heidi Scrimgeour


Every mother has likely come to the realization that her maternal experience is utterly individual, despite the universality of motherhood itself.  We turn to one another for support and understanding, for the camaraderie of those engaged in a common project, but here we also discover anew that each of us journeys on a distinct path, as unique as our very lives.   Essential Reading: Alternative Motherhood selections compiled by Libby Maxey


This month, our editors' literary picks touch on what it means to care, both for self and others -- as a mother, as a caregiver to the disabled, and even as one of the disabled, struggling to recognize as well as to understand those who matter most. Now Reading selections compiled by Libby Maxey



On the fifth sleepless night
I scavenged drawers of bedside
table hoping for a dog-eared magazine
or hospital pamphlet, depending
on at least a navy blue Bible…

Children's Hospital, 2011 by Leigh Anne Hornfeldt


There must be a way to write a good poem
about potty training. Do I mention Greek
mythology in a description of perfect baby

Good Poem by Crystal Hadidian


Daddy gone?
Daddy’s at work
Daddy gone?
Daddy’s at work

Morning by Sarah MacDougall


Get up! We’re running late, sweetie. Come on–get up! It’s going to be
gorgeous out today.
Get up! Seriously–it’s getting late, come on. Get up.
Get up, or there’s no way I’ll get you to school and get my bus on time– you’re not the only person that needs to be somewhere this morning.

Weekday Morning Litany by Tami Mohamed Brown


In the sink
Near and far
Say what a lot of dishes there are!

One Dish, Two Dish, Red Dish, Blue Dish by Michelle A.L. Singer



Jessica O’Dwyer is the adoptive mother to two children born in Guatemala. Her book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, was named Best Memoir by the San Diego Book Awards Association and one of the Top Five Books of 2011 by Adoptive Families Magazine. Freelance writer Marianne Lonsdale sat down with Jessica to discuss what led her to adoption, how she found time to write her book, her concerns about international adoption and how publication of her book has led to teaching memoir writing.  A Conversation with Jessica O'Dwyer by Marianne Lonsdale



From our mini-series on the craft of writing:

In the way of all good admonishments, the book encourages us to put down the excuses and pick up the pen. And like the best books on writing and craft, it gives us the tools and techniques to do just that. A Review of Kate Hopper's Use Your Words by Vicki Forman

Author Brooke Warner motivates aspiring writers to think big: “Allow yourself to imagine that you’re sitting there with your published book in your hands. How does it feel? You’re a published author.”  A Review of Brooke Warner's What's Your Book by Katherine Barrett


The Literary Mama Blog Editor searches for mama-centric news you can use — including information about publishing opportunities and literacy efforts; essays and writing prompts that motivate and inspire; and announcements about events, classes, and workshops. The current blog editor is Rudri Patel; read her bio here.

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