Motherhood & Words

I’ve been really enjoying my girls lately. Enjoying them, that is, when the older one doesn’t channel a thirteen-year-old, complete with eye rolling and exasperated whatevering, and when the younger one does not—within the span of two minutes—climb on top of the dollhouse and launch herself onto the couch, destroy a picture frame, and swallow a mouthful of toilet paper. But even when they’re doing these things, I’ve been finding them fairly delightful. What is wrong with me?

I think it has to do with the fact that both D and I have been in work-related funks lately. On Monday we were feeling so discouraged that D took a day off work and we took Stella and Zoë to the Minnesota Zoo. When we pulled into the parking lot, we counted 17 school buses with sinking hearts. And indeed, there was much jostling to catch a glimpse of the Grizzlies and their enormous paws, and there was much dodging of grade-schoolers playing tag and flirting with each other in that you’re so ugly kind of way. It was a long day, and by the end of it, the kids were tired and crabby, and D and I were more discouraged than ever. All we wanted was to lose ourselves in a movie, but there was nothing on, so we did something we’ve never done before: ordered a pay-per-view movie. (I know, we’re totally crazy.)

Without knowing much about it, we ordered Seven Pounds with Will Smith. Not exactly a light-hearted film, but we both really liked it, and sometimes a depressing movie is just what you need to help put your worries in perspective and make you feel grateful for what you have.

So I’ve been trying not to feel the weight of all I have to do, or to dwell on the fact—or opinion—that there is no market for either of my books (Yes, I’ve been working on a proposal for a new book). And even though writing feels like more than a job to me—it’s more a way of seeing, of being in the world—the publishing side of it is a job, and I need to keep that in perspective.

And I’ve been trying hard to be present when I’m with Stella and Zoë, to remember how lucky I am when Stella excitedly tells me about the finger-knitting they did at school, saying, “Mom, it was soooo fun, and you wouldn’t have believed it, but the boys just went crazy over it. They loved it!” Or when Zoë does her little bouncing dance whenever she hears a line of music or laughs her belly laugh after she’s rifled through the clean laundry, found a pair of underwear to put on her head, and peeked out of one of the leg holes. Or when Zoë reaches her arms for a hug from Stella, and Stella says, “Isn’t she the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, mom? Aren’t we so lucky?”

Indeed we are.

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.


  1. cath c on June 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm


    lucky indeed.

    (dh and i have been viewing back episodes of true blood on hbo on demand for about a week or so now.)

  2. Elizabeth on June 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    It's good to be reminded of these things. And tell Zoe that my Oliver, who is eight, and very much a sports-oriented crazy boy, loves to KNIT.

  3. Bonnie on June 7, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Oh holy moly, do you HAVE to make me cry two times a week? Kate, I wonder if you grapple with the same conundrum I do as a writer: Life is great (and the writing is…not happening) or life is depressing (and the writing rocks). Well, your latest posts may already hold my answer… xoxo