With the new year comes a new (or rather all too familiar) emphasis on renewing ourselves—making resolutions, accepting challenges, shaking up old habits, reassessing our goals. Too often, however, when we look for inspiration we find shame. Pieces like this and this accost us in our Facebook feeds. We’re bombarded by exhortations to live life to the fullest, upbraided for being too conventional or too responsible or not responsible enough, for merely scraping by when we could be thriving. The life coaches of the internet imply that our happiness is entirely in our own control, even when they’re telling us to be less controlling.
Parents, however, know all too well the limits of control, of time, of energy, of happiness, of our own discretely contained selves. We know that we have chosen a life that cannot be primarily about our personal satisfaction, and that will, rather, involve a good deal of dissatisfaction. Our children do not exist to fulfill us. They will keep us up all night. They will keep us from running off to Paris. They will panic and tantrum, rip their clothes and break their bones. They will throw up on us, probably more than once. They will ruin our plans. Children constrain us—our activities and our identities—but they also expand us, in ways that go beyond programmed self-improvement.
This year, as always, I hope that readers will come to Literary Mama for a deeper kind of inspiration, one that recognizes the complex and conflicted happiness of parenthood and honors all of our obligations—to others and to ourselves.
Welcome to our January issue!
P.S. Stay connected between monthly issues by subscribing to our blog or by following us on social media. Also, explore our archives to discover more mothers’ voices!
The Sound of a Calling: The Silence of Waiting by Julianne Palumbo
Baby Brain by Maya Silver
Essential Reading: Courage compiled by Nerys Copelovitz
Photos by Kristina Koehler and Heather Vrattos