Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writerly Roundup – March 2020

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Our Writerly Roundup blog series features a curated collection of articles on the craft of writing and the creative life that we don't want you to miss.

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Mothering in the time of Covid-19 is proving to be a marathon of a swift, efficient transition from almost every single thing about every facet of life as we knew it. No biggie, right? (Insert eye roll, fainting spell, etc.) These authors stand out as beacons of wisdom, practicality, and downright old fashioned help (with an electronic twist) in keeping kids occupied while we continue to write, and find peace in this surprising turn of events.

'There's No Map’, Glennon Doyle On Living An 'Untamed' Life, Glennon Doyle, NPR

Women taking care of everything during extraordinary circumstances is nothing new. Right? We've been doing this since the beginning of time. This is just a different iteration of it. And so, you know, every woman that I know right now is juggling work, relationships, home, her own anxiety, her own fear, which is what we do every day.

This is a hell of a lot too much family togetherness for me. ... what I'm saying to my people is: We just lower expectations right now. Right? Our children are not going to learn what they would have learned in school. You know what they'll learn? They will learn that sometimes things are completely out of our control. And in the end, what matters is how we take care of ourselves and each other. So whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and each other. Do it right now.

Solid advice from a writer who flipped the script on how to mother. Choosing her daughter’s future over a bad marriage, Doyle learned that a change within, following her inner voice was preferential for teaching, over modeling a life under the influence of a plan mapped out centuries before her time. Doyle elaborates:

I have a boy and two girls — until they tell me otherwise — and my son had a bunch of friends over and I walked into the room and I said to them, is anybody hungry? And all the boys answered, "yes," without taking their eyes off the TV. The girls said nothing, took their eyes off the TV and started looking at each other's faces. And I'll never forget it, because I thought: Oh, we girls, in every moment of uncertainty are trained not to look inside themselves, but to look outside of themselves for approval, for permission, for consensus.

By observing these kids, she began to notice her own tendencies to doubt her inner voice:

I decided to stay in a less than healthy marriage for a long time because of my children. ... One day I was braiding my daughter Tish's hair, and I looked at her and I thought, oh, my God, I'm staying in this marriage for her. But would I want this marriage for her? And if I would not want this marriage for her, then why am I modeling bad love and calling that good mothering?

And that's when I realized, oh this idea of mother as martyr — that mothers have to prove their love by slowly dying, by burying their own needs, and their own ambition, and their own desires, and their own emotions ... this is just another way we get women to disappear. ... Don't take culture's definition of good mothering, because all culture will tell you is to keep disappearing. What I decided is that a good mother is not a martyr, a good mother is a model, right? That children will only allow themselves permission to live as fully as their parents do. And so we must not settle for any relationship, for any community, for any nation less true and beautiful than the one we would want for our babies.

Doyle adds:

One of the reasons it is so hard to find our inner voice is because the voices outside of us are so loud. Over time, we have lived more and more of an exterior life. Right? We are always looking at our phones. We are always listening to the TV. We are always listening to outer voices. And so one of the things that changed my life is a practice of spending a few minutes a day just with no other voices, and just listening. Getting back in touch with the inner voice ... I do not think that everyone needs to leave their husband and marry a female Olympian — although I highly recommend it — but what I do think is that everyone needs to practice honoring that inner voice.

In this time of quarantine, of separation from some of those outside voices, perhaps us mamas will find opportunities to listen to our own and strengthen our process of creation.

While we’re on the subject of opportunities, let’s think about ways to create them! We writers have work to do. Our careers and interests aren’t on a distancing regimen. How is it possible to write with so many little ones nearby?

These established children’s authors are coming to our rescue, online with classes and activities to give us a shred of time to write while our littles are at home.

 

A Young Writer’s Blueprint: A Step-by-Step Guide for Young Writers, Ages 6-10

Children’s and young adult author Author Alice Kuipers is offering a free writing course with downloadable videos and worksheets that allow parents a little peace of mind while kids work offline.

 

Draw Every Day with JJK

Graphic novelist Jarrett J. Krosoczka, creator of the Lunch Lady series is offering daily drawing lessons via YouTube daily at 2 pm. Engage your little learners with fun ways to draw big ideas.

 

Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, The Kennedy Center

This iconic favorite leads littles through daily exploration into the art of writing and making. Urging children to connect with their online community via hashtag #MoLunchDoodles is a fun way to motivate them to produce get their work out there, while you work on yours (within a reasonable distance, as Mo’s classes are on YouTube).

In the words of Willems:

You might be isolated, but you’re not alone. You are an art maker. Let’s make some together.

 

Have you found methods to adapt to social distancing without sacrificing creative productivity? Please share it with us in the comments!

Have you read a compelling article about craft or the creative life that you think should appear in the next Writerly Roundup? Please send links to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com—we'd love to hear your input!


Meredith Porretta is an award winning project manager, designer, writer, editor, illustrator, and performer. Her work has appeared in P&G Everyday, Good Day Philadelphia, Vogue Magazine, and Elle Magazine.


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