A little over a year ago, when my son was just a few months old, I started looking for a writing community that would accommodate my new life as a mom. When I didn’t find any writing groups for moms, I posted on a few local email lists and boards to start one. Within a few days, I had five contacts. Before we held our first group gathering, one of the moms who lived nearby had me over for a critique session on a steamy day in August. We discussed a piece of Jamie’s on the conflicting advice she got as a new mom and a piece of mine — one of my first attempts at nonfiction prose after focusing on poetry for some time. It was a long, sprawling essay about a crazy busy day and the most delightful moments that came when I was forced to wait for a phone call and do nothing besides play on the bed with my baby. It was exhilarating to talk about ideas — to discuss the craft of writing and the realities of mothering. It helped that my son was not mobile yet and her daughter was napping for the first half of our meeting.
It is now a year later. Our group has met almost monthly since our first evening coffeehouse gathering in September 2006. One baby (a second) has been conceived and born, and two other first babies have made their way onto the outside from the big bellies that we came to think were a permanent part of our new friends’ anatomies. We’ve all been both wildly productive for a time and hopelessly stuck for what feels like an eternity as life gets in the way of our writing. I used to compose for hours while my son slept in the sling, and now I’m lucky if he naps on his own before I fall asleep with him, giving me the energy to stay up until 2:00 a.m. to try to compose. Although I’ve written and submitted other essays, that long essay still hasn’t been broken apart.
The new mom of two came to our most recent meeting after a four-month hiatus to say that she couldn’t stay; her baby was having a rough night and her husband’s early flight the next morning meant she had to be on duty. Her email to the group the next day echoed a familar tone of resignation and frustration, and yet she still managed to inspire. She gave us a link to the blog she’d started a blog after her baby was born – http://goodhappyday.blogspot.com/ — and I got inspired to put a public face on my writing.
Sharing with other moms on discussion lists has been a wonderful source of community; I never would have expected that so much of my mothering would be shaped — explored, revised, reconsidered — online. I have kept a blog of my activities with my son — for record-keeping and for sharing with friends and family — but a lot of thinking I do about my mothering has been confined to emails with friends and, in rare moments, a journal. I intend for this blog to serve as my forum for sharing those insights and frustrations that really rise to the top and also to serve as a motivator to regularly write for an audience.