Motherhood & Words


There are a few minutes here, a half hour there, but really, not much time at all. During the bigger chunks, the ones in which I could write if I wanted to, work on my own stuff, I don’t. I slip on my sports bra, tank top, leggings sheared off at the knee, and strap the helmet to my head. And then I go, pedaling out of the driveway and onto the two-lane highway. I pedal hard, shifting gears, trying not to aggravate my sore achilles. The wind is cold, rushing into my ears, but still, it feels good to be out there, breathing deeply. I stop when I get to the lake, all that dark grey water, and snap a photo. Then I’m back on the bike, letting the stories I’ve been listening to all morning, peel away, until it’s only me again, biking.

When I talk to one of the girls, I can hear the other in the background, playing, laughing, once again picking up some squabble that had almost been forgotten. We use FaceTime once, but there is a delay, so it’s slow, the talking. And then Zoë hands the phone to my dad, who is at our house helping D stain the fence, and Dad puts it to his ear again and again—a reflex—until I yell into my phone, “Dad! All I can see is your hearing aid!” I say it three times before he understands my garbled words and then he gets it, laughing into the tiny rectangle of my iPhone. Technology!


This evening there will be an art walk, from gallery to gallery in town, and then pizza maybe—I hope. And then maybe a bonfire, but maybe not because of the ticks, which are a deterrent. And I will create exercises and meet with students (whom I adore) and listen to their words, and it will be wonderful, as it always is. But then I will need to put on my running skirt and tie my shoes and turn onto that highway again until the only sounds I hear are my own breathing, the slap of my shoes on pavement, the rustles of leaves above me as I run, run to the edge of that great lake, its water today more blue than grey.


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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. Nina on June 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    This sounds so amazing. It’s not the year for me, but I hope to one day!

    • Kate on June 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      I would LOVE to have you at a retreat, Nina. I’ll start pestering you next year!

  2. Andrea on June 20, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Lovely! Enjoy your retreat!

    • Kate on June 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you!! I wish you were here, Andrea!

  3. Angie Mizzell on June 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I love this scene, I can see your dad’s hearing aid! It shows technology doesn’t always make us feel connected. Instead, letting go, getting outside, being present with yourself does.

  4. Andria on June 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    You’re such an amazing teacher! The women there are lucky to have you. Glad you got to go to the retreat — it sounds beautiful!