Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...


Crooked Toes and Crossed Genes

I've never particularly liked my feet; I always thought them too wide, my toes too dumpy, too short, too crooked. I have a tendency to ignore them; by doing so I erase their unattractiveness.

Photo by Jena Schwartz

Yet when I was taking a bath with my daughter the other day (a rare pleasure since she is most certainly a big girl now) we considered our feet. She has slim, long feet with straight toes – inherited from her father. I expressed my envy at such beautiful feet. "But yours are wonderful too!" she said. "Why?" I asked. "Because they're yours."

It was then that something that had always bothered me about my writing suddenly became clear. A mental block – as it were – was now unstuck. Like many mama writers I cycle through the usual doubts and anxieties: My writing is not good enough. I don't have enough time or energy or space to give to it. And it's certainly not paying any bills. But added to these concerns is the knowledge that my writing cannot easily be categorized. It is neither particularly commercial or literary, and the fiction I write crosses many genres and age ranges. I also write non-fiction, poetry, and blog posts on a variety of topics and themes. My writing is eclectic and strange and sometimes odd, and I worry that it won't find a publishing home or readers.

Yet this "not fitting", or uniqueness, be it feet or stories, is something that is so easily accepted by my children because they are (as yet) mostly untainted by our society's desire to categorize. They aren't desperate to pigeonhole me or my writing. They are able to see the whole. To them, my feet are a part of me and hence, wonderful. So if I am able to bring just a little bit of their unquestioning, uncritical love into my writing practice I will hopefully see more of the wondrous whole, made up as it is of unique, though maybe strange-looking, parts.

Marija Smits is the pen name of Dr Teika Bellamy, a mother-of-two, ex-scientist and editor whose art and writing has appeared in over thirty publications, including Mslexia, Brittle Star, The Poetry Shed and JUNO. When she’s not busy with her children or running the indie press, Mother’s Milk Books, she likes to draw, paint, take photographs and, of course, write. She is continually delighted by the fact that Teika means ‘fairy tale story’ in Latvian.

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