Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: Literary Reflections

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For each issue of Literary Mama, Literary Reflections shares a writing prompt, inviting our readers to respond. Our editors provide feedback on the responses we receive, and we post our favorites on the blog. This month's writing prompt is inspired by Ruth Dawkins's The Last Bedtime Story.


Photo by Heather Vrattos

When Ruth Dawkins sets out to read one of her childhood favorites to her ten-year-old son, Tom, she doesn't realize that it will be the last book she reads to him.

[F]or the most part, I got as much enjoyment from reading the book this time round as I did the first time, and to my delight Tom seemed fully engaged with it too. What I didn't know—couldn't have known—as I read the closing sentences of the book and tried to keep the tremor of emotion from my voice, was that Brendon Chase would be the last book I'd ever read to him aloud.

Dawkins and her son embark on another book soon after, but it doesn't take long for them both to accept that Tom would prefer to read it on his own.

One of the joys of parenting is celebrating our children's firsts—first smile, first tooth, first day of school. "Lasts" on the other hand, have a tendency to sneak up on us, and we often don't recognize that a last—last bite of baby food, last crawl, last mispronouced "skabetti"—has happened because the old skill or stage is quickly overshadowed by a new development. Write about the last time your child did something or you and your child did something together. How did you know it was the last time? Why was it significant?


Read Dawkins's essay and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by December 17, 2019 for feedback from our editors. Email your response to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note "November/December Prompt" in your subject line. Please do not attach the essay; rather, paste the response in the body of the email.

Andrea Lani writes about the nexus of motherhood and the natural world. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Maine Review, SaltFront, and Brain, Child Magazine, among other publications. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program, a senior editor for Literary Mama, and a Maine Master Naturalist. She lives in central Maine with her husband and three sons.

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