Many months ago The Rumpus posted an open call for essays that examined the topic “mothering outside the margins.” I thought about the prompt for a few days and then early, around five am, one Saturday morning I sat down and wrote a 1200 word essay about my experience as mother in the first few months of my son’s life.
It came out quick and fervent and I admit, I was a little surprised, but I also knew I had a lot to say. I spent about a week or so tweaking it and then sent it off before I could think too hard about it.
Ultimately, though my little essay made it the final round for the “mothering outside the margins” call, it didn’t make the final cut, but I was encouraged by how close it came to publication, so I sent it to a few other places and soon enough the editors at Utterance sent me an email letting me know they’d decided to publish it (you can read it here).
To say that I’ve been surprised and humbled by the response to this essay is an understatement. So many women have reached out to me share their stories and I am so grateful for the dialogue.
Earlier this week I learned that the editors nominated my essay for a Pushcart Prize, which is a tremendous honor and truly means a lot to me in light of the response I’ve received. Admittedly, I was nervous about sending these words out into the universe. It’s an intensely personal piece of writing and I wasn’t sure if I’d done the subject matter justice, but the fact that it seems to have resonated with readers has helped immensely. I suppose this experience just reinforces what I’ve been telling my students for years: if you have something to say, say it. For me, the best writing always feels like it has something at stake, so if you feel it in your bones, don’t be afraid to open your mouth. Someone is ready to listen.