Motherhood & Words

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet this week. I have a number of things of my blogging list, including an interview with the wonderful Julie Schumacher and a review of her new book, Black Box. But with the radio thing on Sunday (which went well, I think), the launch of Mother Words Online yesterday (yay!) and reduced writing time in the morning because of D’s new early practice schedule (the soccer season has officially begun, people), I haven’t had time to sit down and blog.

If I may interject a question here: Would twittering help? Could I just twit or tweet a note that feeds into this blog so at least you would know I haven’t perished? My friend Vicki suggested this, but it seems so daunting. Are there any twitterers (tweeters?) who want to weigh in on this?

Okay, back to my week: So yesterday, I finally posted my first (logistics-heavy) lecture for my online class, and then I ran out to find a birthday present for D. (38 today! Happy Birthday, babe! I love you!) And while Zoë was trying to pull clothes from the racks, I noticed a dull ache in my right breast. By the time we got home, the ache had become a hard rock of pain, and I knew I had a plugged duct. WTF? This late in the game? When I’m gearing up to wean? Ridiculous.

Now, perhaps you remember my date mastitis last year. (Or your own painful date.) Not fun, not fun at all. I didn’t want to go there again, so I knew I needed to be aggressive. I put Zoë down for a nap, then filled a bowl with hot water and sprawled across the kitchen floor, soaking myself. It’s humiliating to find oneself on the kitchen floor, face pressed to wood, staring at the dust and alphabet magnets stranded under the oven. Humiliating, I tell you.

After the soak, I called my mom to see if she could pick up Stella from school—thank God for my mom—and I fell into a deep sleep and slept for a whole hour, until Zoë began to screech from her crib. Later, I went to bed early and have been hydrating like crazy. The pain is now only an ache, so I’m hoping that I’ve successfully kept the devil at bay.

This brush with mastitis reminded me of two things: the first is that I need to slow down and try to nap a couple of times a week. The second is that it’s time for the annual Mother Words haiku contest. Last year, the haiku subject was, of course, mastitis, and you will remember the fine and funny entries, which you can read here. This year (since I am determined not to get mastitis again), the focus of the haiku contest will be—drum roll, please—toddlers.

It seems unbelievable that my Zoë transformed from a happy, fairly easy baby to a trouble-making toddler in just a week, but it happened. Last week she underwent the metamorphosis, and it isn’t pretty. She’s up on chairs, rocking them back and forth. She’s sprinting across the living room with china that she snuck from the cabinet. She’s pulling hair and hitting in anger when she doesn’t get her way. (I don’t remember this happening so early. Again, WTF?)

But I would like to honor Zoë’s transition with this year’s haiku contest: toddler haiku. If you have a toddler, this will be easy. If your children are older, try to recall the frustration, the lack of speech, the beginning of tantrums. (And even if you don’t have children, you can enter. Certainly you have seen and interacted with toddlers at some point.)

To enter, post your haiku as a comment below. Remember 5-7-5. Deadline for entering: Wednesday, March 25th. I am going to ask my friend Jess to judge the contest this year because she loves haiku. For my 30th birthday, she made me a tiny booklet filled with 30 birthday haiku. She likes funny, just so you know.

Bring them on! Haiku you!

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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.


  1. kate hopper on March 20, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention that the prize for the winning haiku is a $10 amazon gift card. Don’t miss out. Don’t miss out on your chance to win half of a free book.

  2. Elizabeth on March 20, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’m always happy when you’re back — and sorry to hear about your struggles! I imagine that the mastitis has something to do with stress and maybe a little to do with weaning? Anyway, I hope that it’s better soon. And I’ll have to cast my mind back to toddlerhood — I haven’t written haiku since high school.

  3. Ines on March 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Please considering twitter…its fun and very easy…did I mention it is easy?

  4. Amber S. on March 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Hope you keep feeling better! (the image of you on the kitchen floor was very funny, though 🙂 )

    Here’s my haiku:

    Toddler on my lap
    Can’t let me out of her sight.
    Tinkle, tinkle, plop.

  5. Laura on March 21, 2009 at 11:05 am


    Don’t drink that water
    Your poopy butt sits in it
    A shriek of delight

  6. Elizabeth on March 24, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Here’s my haiku (and the reason why I’m so done with toddlers):

    Books, books, take them off
    the shelf one by one by one
    mindless fun mom hates

  7. caro on March 24, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    You tie my laces.
    Then, while you’re zipping my coat,
    I kick off my shoes.

  8. Caroline D. on March 24, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    At times it is clear
    You are such a big kid now
    At times not so much

  9. stace-c on March 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Ok, here’s my first haiku:

    toddler twins confound
    every effort to childproof
    divide and conquer

    And a more universal one:

    thought I had a girl
    but look–on top of table
    it’s a mountain goat

    And last but not least:

    book was his first word
    but the treatment he gives them,
    no book could survive

  10. Tom on March 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Summer swings on lawn,
    Perseids gleam wink fall fade.
    Watchful river flows

  11. Caroline D. on March 26, 2009 at 11:05 am

    little girl curled up
    in my bed so peaceful
    breathing in and out

  12. kate hopper on March 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I’m loving these!

  13. rwhopper on March 27, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    OK, here it goes. I couldn’t decide, so I’m posting two. One is more appropriate to this contest, and one may or may not be considered “cheating,” as the particular incident to which it refers occurred more recently and my son may no longer qualify as a toddler (although he still possesses many of these characteristics at 3 years old):

    Oh sleep, where are you?
    “I get out! Running around!”
    Escapes from crib. Damn.

    Little voice, so sweet
    “Don’t fucks with me” says my son
    All laughs and giggles

  14. cath c on March 28, 2009 at 9:01 am

    step one – tentative
    mom slips finger out of grip
    uh-oh! squat again

    drama queen early
    start-wants you, squints and huffs to
    start a cry with smile

    that was fun!

  15. Marilyn on March 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    You pooped in pantry
    Spread and raked it with your hoe
    Looky! Garden grow!