If there’s something I wanted most as a new mother it was to belong. I felt severed from all the fine threads that had connected me to a once familiar life. The further I fell into motherhood, the farther away the world of ideas and independence seemed.
Alone in a room with my baby, sleep deprived and bored, I reached for my ever-reliable tonic: books. I needed to know there were mothers like me whose creative self still bit at their heels. Books like Mamaphonic helped build that tribe.
In the introduction co-authors Bee Lavender ad Maia Rossini write,
“This book starts with the premise that people require practical models. We acknowledge that women’s work often happens outside of accepted history. We do not accept the lie that having children kills creativity. In fact, we assert that people who are raising kids have to be more creative to find enough time to do their work, to figure out ways to integrate their children into their art, to strike that balance between the needs of their families and the requirements of their work.”
Mamaphonic is a wide-ranging collection of essays about mothers balancing care and creativity. The first one is called “Noodles and Sauce”. It is a response to a young poet and mother, Nora, who writes to say, now she has an eighteen-month old and three year old to look after, she cannot remember what it felt like to write poetry. She despairs that she will never find her way back to her work. The author of the essay, Ingrid Wendt, is a mother of grown children. Wendt begins by looking back at a poem she wrote thirty years ago when she was under the same pressures as Nora. She writes,
“Looking back, reading these words, the feelings all come back: how I felt so alone in this new motherhood, unprepared and without the resources to cope. All I could do, at the time, was try to name what was going on: to put the experience into words, to find metaphors for it — which is, after all, what we poets do, right?”
All new mothers need a tribe and each tribe is unique. If you’re a mother with a creative practice you may need to look beyond your local playgroup. Mamaphonic and its diverse range of voices is a good place to find yours.