Motherhood & Words

I slept in late this morning, which—and I’m serious here—means I slept until 8:30, at which point the loving parade of my family came in, bearing a bowl of strawberries doused in sugar (one of my favorite things), a steaming cup of coffee, a small potted rose plant, cards, and a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure. Whoohoo! Stella was all smiles, but Zoë was crabby, pounding on my chest, impatient to nurse. She’s had a cold, which, as usual, she has given to me.

I went for a run anyway, and then all of us went to the garden store to buy some new plants for our very-slowly developing garden. Later, we’ll go to my mom’s for dinner. Maybe I’ll even get a nap in. It’s been a lovely day.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful day, as well. Tonight I’ll be raising my glass to all of the wonderful mothers I know (and even the ones I don’t know).

And in honor of mother’s day, I want to share with you these two short excerpts from The Maternal is Political. The first is from Violeta Mendoza’s wonderful “Of Volcanoes and ruins and Gardens,” an essay about adopting her daughter from Guatemala:

It’s the opposite of pregnancy, maybe. If I had given birth to her, her birth would have begun a slow process of releasing her into the world; having adopted her, we’ve begun the process of letting each other in, of allowing ourselves to become inextricably linked. We were born six thousand miles apart and share not a single genetic secret; we share only circumstance, a chain of moments. It is enough. I’m in awe of the way the perceived boundary lines between us fall away. The space that carries my love for her is so vast, it feels like a cove carved out in me; so big, it’s startling what else it lets me carry.

I love this: “the space that carries my love for her is so vast, it feels like a cove carved out in me.”

And from Judith Stadtman Tucker’s “Motherhood Made Me Do It Or, How I Became an Activist”:

I’m always reluctant to make sweeping generalizations about the psychology of motherhood, but I think it’s safe to say that the process of becoming a mother can alter a woman. Some changes may be superficial and transitory; others are more lasting. Sometimes the process of becoming a mother works into the deepest cavities of the self and fundamentally transforms a woman’s worldview.

Indeed. It’s sometimes difficult to even know that ways that motherhood has changed me, but I know that I’m different. I know motherhood has made me celebrate small, seemingly insignificant moments, moments like Zoë curled into me, nursing, or Stella bent over a piece of paper, drawing intently. I know motherhood has made me feel gratitude so intense that I never would have guessed at it. I know motherhood has made me a more serious writer, has underscored the importance of stories in my life.

So here I am on this mother’s day, feeling grateful, and wondering how motherhood has altered each of you. What lasting changes have been wrought in your heart and mind as a result of being a mother?

Tell me.

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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. Ines on May 12, 2009 at 10:51 am

    How wonderful, Kate. I am glad you had a fun day on Sunday. How has motherhood changed me? In ways I like and others I don’t enjoy as much. I like, no I love, that I can be mindful around the children because time is just not in the same context. I don’t enjoy having to be so attentive all the time. There in lies the issue. Happy Mother’s day!

  2. cath c on May 13, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    this is lovely. belated happy mother’s day to you too.