Motherhood & Words

and the winner is…

Thank you so much to Jill Christman for being the judge of the 6th Annual Motherhood & Words Haiku Contest. And thank you all so much for submitting your wonderful poems. It was so much fun to read them!

So now I’ll turn it over to Jill:

Thank you, Kate, for inviting me here to the blog to participate in the haiku contest you initiated to transform a tough season of lone parenting and mastitis into an opportunity for inspiration and community.  That’s just like you.  And thanks to all of you who took up the challenge to say something big in seventeen syllables.  I read these in the blessed hour of quiet before the little feet and the questions begin—just me, a steaming mug of coffee, and your well-penned words to fill the morning silence.

To actually choose a winner (and three runners up!) was a nearly impossible task as every haiku took me into those close details and binaries of motherhood so worthy of our attention—from the quotidian horrors we manage (the vomit, the pains, the poop) to the equally reliable pleasures that keep us in the game (those little feet, the smiles, the cheek pats), and on through the heart-stopping emergencies and the unbearable losses.  And the love.  Everywhere.

You listened well to what emerged from the mouths of your babes, and identified essential, tiny moments in what the children teach us when we’re trying to teach them—and you shaped them into art.  Now, the next time I tell my son to get his “lips off the toilet”—a key bit of parenting advice, by the way—I will feel a surge of recognition and sisterhood.  And isn’t that what literature is all about?

So thanks to you all, and without further ado. . .


*What I loved here was the identification of a trope of parenting/childhood—the “first”—and the haiku-ish way in which Vicki cut that trope between the 2nd and 3rd lines to tell a story and crack open a new awareness.  Also, the sounds are lovely.  Go ahead, read it out loud.


There are many firsts –

The first smile, tooth, day of school

And the first forged note.



*Here, I was drawn in by Erin’s spectacularly compressed fully blown narrative.  It’s all here—setting, time, character—and again, that wonderful turn in the toddler’s polite, affectionate au revoir to his poopie diapers.  I smile every time I read it.


Friday trash truck comes

He stands on the kitchen chair

Waving “bye diapies!!”



*Peyton captures such a big truth of parenting here, and in that movement between the 2nd and 3rd, I feel both the anguish of this truth—and the absolute, sustaining beauty.


My arms circled him

from the minute he was born.

Now, his circle me.



*Kelly got me on two points here:  the wonderful sounds embedded in the simple phrase “eat fresh snow,” and her adherence to traditional haiku form in the incorporation of the season into those first wonderful lines.


I teach him how to

eat fresh snow — so many smiles

on the walk to school


Congratulations to all of you, and happy writing and mothering!

– Jill


Thank you, Jill!!

Posted in


I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.