Writing Motherhood

What goes in the baby book, on Facebook, on your mom-blog and in your novel.


So you're a mother, or you're about to become a mother. Congratulations! As you may have noticed, the world is different now – more beautiful, yes, and more difficult. Mothering small children is a little like a long-distance swim in sharky waters: it will take every ounce of your strength and courage, and yet what a thrilling swim! How sublime those good moments can be, jellyfish stings be darned! Of course you want to record the experience, but how? Do you start a mom-blog? Write an epic? Craft a tweet? Personally, I tend to sift out my motherhood material according to degree of sweetness. As in:

The Baby Burped And It Was SOOOO CUTE = Baby Book

There are many moments of motherhood that are so incredibly sweet that you want to remember them forever. When the baby first smiled. When the baby first smiled in a non-gas-passing way. When the baby's horrifying little umbilical stump fell off. Record it, by all means, but in the baby book, because no one else cares. I mean that in the nicest of ways.

The Hot-Cocoa Party Under the Table = Facebook

Many of us depend on Facebook to keep far-flung friends and families abreast of what's happening with our little angels. To me, Facebook is like lazy email. It's for the cute moments that the grandmas need to see immediately. Wonderfully, it can also be a place to connect with mom-friends – just the other day I was snowed in with two sick kids all day and posted one fun thing we'd done (playing with snow in the bathtub!), along with a request for ideas. The project inspirations poured in. And thank goodness for that.

The Five-Course Finger-Paint Meal = Your Personal Blog

A blog entry doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't even have to that well thought-out. (Trust me.) But to work as a bit of writing it should have some story to tell, and a story usually involves some trouble. When we have a nice trip to the zoo, I post a cute picture on Facebook. When we have a disastrous trip to a library, I write a blog post. There's a little bit of an arc, a touch of tension, something that, I hope, makes it interesting even to people who aren't genetically obligated to love my kids.

The Truths With A Big "T" You've Learned Along the Way = Your Novel

My novel is about a mother of two – like me! – but unlike me, she battles postpartum depression, has an absentee husband, and, ah, a relationship with a mermaid. While my life is far too pedestrian to work as a memoir, there are many Truths I've learned from motherhood that made their way into the book. For example: every mother feels like no one appreciates everything she does, and she's right; until you're a parent yourself, you really just don't know. This is a lesson I've learned that has little to do with my particular kids, and lots to do with my experience of this life-stage. So many women walk around with books in them; so often it's a matter of giving ourselves permission to share our big-T-Truths.

Life is crazy and days are full, but, no matter how you choose to record your experiences, take a minute every now and then to notice what's happening. The shark-swim of motherhood is a tale worth telling.