Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt Reader Response

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Last month, we invited readers to share their responses to a writing prompt inspired by T. Pearl Joynz's essay, Reflections of a Mother Who Writes to Heal, and Rachel Sturges's essay, Sand Stories. We asked, "How has writing helped you learn to trust yourself, find yourself, or remake yourself? How has it led you to see your connections to others when you've felt lost? How have your children (likely unbeknownst to them) helped you do the writing that must be done?" Below is Tamar Rachel Mekredijian's response.

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Breathing

By Tamar Rachel Mekredijian

Photo by Heather Vrattos

On the day my daughter was born, I stopped breathing. My body did not respond well to medication during my cesarean, and as my daughter took her first breath, I took what felt like my last.

 I came back, but so much of me was still dead.

When I was pregnant, friends who were already mothers told me I would lose myself—that I would be so tired and busy I would forget about me. I promised myself that motherhood wouldn't break me. But the trauma of seeing the real, deep darkness of death, and the flashbacks that had me clinging to my husband in the middle of the night, my cries shaking the bed, shattered me. 

My story made my therapist cry. But by telling it, I was able to see myself again for the first time since my daughter's birth two years before. And this made me wonder: if my PTSD made me so blind to myself, did my daughter even see me? Was I merely a ghost, hovering over the stove? Was I just hands that helped clean her and feed her, never fully present? Did I see her? Did I really see motherhood, the beautiful daily heartbreak that it was? When my therapist asked me what made me feel most grounded, I told her that I used to write. She put her pen down, smiling like there was nothing left to discuss. There was hope. She asked me to write my story. As I pieced myself back together in writing, I began to see the magic in my new role as mother.

I came back, one word at a time. In sentences I merged who I was with who I was becoming: a safe place for this sweet extension of myself, my child. I was her mother, and she needed me more than she needed anyone else. So I wrote to find myself and make myself new, for her. One word an inhale, the next an exhale, I kept breathing. I came back to life and saw myself alive, right there on the page. 

One day my daughter will know that my craft is what really brought me back. Writing saves me every day. It’s what makes me look closely at motherhood, what helps me see its magic. When you get the chance to live again after you die, reborn into a love so strong, you do everything you can to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

"Mama, are you writing again?" my daughter asks, standing at the office door. 

I nod, and I hope she knows this will always be true. She brings blank pages from the printer and spreads her crayons on the floor. I rise from my chair, but when I see her there, her hand moving across the page, I sit back down and continue. Together we create. Together we breathe. Together we find ourselves on the page.

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Tamar Rachel Mekredijian resides in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and son. She teaches English online for Fresno City College and is the content editor for Still Standing Magazine. Writing helps her look at the world closely and understand her place in it as a woman, wife, and mother. She writes in the margins of motherhood—in the school pickup line, during nap times, and at the kitchen table while her kids play at her feet. Her work also appears at Mothers Always Write. You can find her on Instagram: @tamarrachelwrites.


Libby Maxey lives in rural Massachusetts with her husband and two rapidly maturing sons. With her academic career as a medievalist having died a stunningly swift death by childbirth, she now works as an editor, writes poetry, reads when able, and sings with her local light opera company. Her work has appeared in The Mom Egg Review, Emrys, Crannóg Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Mezzo Cammin and elsewhereHer first poetry chapbook, Kairos, won the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices contest.


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