Reading through the essays in The M Word (edited by Kerry Clare of Pickle Me This)offered rare glimpses into the lives of many women imprinted in very different ways by motherhood. Honesty seeps through them, along with incisive depictions of pains, prejudices, and (less frequently) the pleasures of motherhood. There is layer upon layer here – no fluff – and the pages just keep turning.
My closest friends tend to be thinkers, and I’m lucky enough to have been part of some raw and real conversations about motherhood, so the intimacy of the stories presented in The M Word almost felt familiar. Many of the mothers I know very well have deeply textured feelings about being moms, the kind that don’t fit into neat categories. I have had my share of these, particularly but not exclusively related to the massive transition (inadequately) called my first pregnancy and birth. Being a wordy type, I’ve written my way through some of this and it helped.
But it surprised me to find upon reading this collection of essays that my strongest feeling was one of relief. Relief that I no longer have such a tangled relationship with motherhood, and that I don’t feel the need to unpack or write about it quite as much anymore. Relief that I get to read and benefit from the offerings of other women’s stories without sharing the author’s experience, perspective, or ambivalence. Relief that I’m having an easier time with being a mother now.
In difficult spaces of mothering (or anything really), reading your experience in words can be nothing short of a godsend. But reading The M Word carried different benefits for me. It let me into many worlds of experience and observation while reminding me of the burdens I’m not currently carrying. On both counts, I am so glad I read it.