I’d read all the pregnancy books, humorous and practical alike, but none of them really prepared me for that moment. Instead, it was the desolate landscapes of Cormac McCarthy’s fiction—which I hadn’t read before my pregnancy, and haven’t enjoyed since—that gave me a framework for my predicament.
Parenting a child with early Alzheimer’s-like symptoms leaves little energy for anything else, I discovered, so I shifted my priority from recreating what had been, to nurturing what could be. I focused on being a mom while the rusty bucket mossed-over.
My plays are colored by motherhood. My poetry, a fairly recent undertaking, comes back to themes of mothering again and again. My two girls were with me throughout the entirety of my PhD (which I regularly referred to as my third child). And my dissertation, like most things I produce, has an underlying current of not being precisely one thing or another.
Rather than force a return to the poems I was working on, I needed to write differently. I needed to intentionally mark the rupture between past and present, before becoming a mother, and after. I needed to explore another genre altogether.
The travelers were much younger than I am now, from different countries, and different time periods, but they had all arrived at a turning point in their lives and needed to answer the perennial question of what to do next.
I used to be precious about my writing time. Everything needed to be just so before I could start laying one word after another. My sacred place had to be perfect: my office, espresso, a little Miles Davis, and no interruptions. What a crock of shit.
That pretentious girl, who rolled her eyes at her mom’s Danielle Steele novels, would have scoffed at the mom I’ve become, engaged in a heated debate with my kids about whether the Captain Underpants movie was better than the book series.
I felt like I couldn’t be the writer I wanted to be. And I wasn’t the mother I wanted to be. So what was I? Nothing of any value. A package of shattered tile.
What does it mean when a female writer cannot share and describe what could very likely have been one of the most transformative experiences of her life?
Maria Odessky Rosen
A writer needs a writing nook. A space that is the perfect combination of inspiration and (dis)comfort. My nook started out in a perfectly nook-appropriate place in our home: the little study by the front door.
Arthur said, “You shouldn’t use that word.” I had had no idea that he was looking over my shoulder at the computer screen. I confronted the word “ass” plainly in front of us. I was kind of relieved. There were worse things going on in that story, much worse things that he could pick up on.
Literary Reflections Archives