May in Maine, where I live, means springtime. After the long, dark winter and the false promise of April, the birds return from points south and the leaves and flowers unfurl from their tightly packed buds. Every day brings a new song to the dawn chorus, a deeper shade of green to the canopy haze. This year, all that burgeoning life is taking place against a backdrop of fear, anger, and disbelief, as women in the United States face the rollback of their reproductive rights.
I was born in 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was decided. My current form of birth control, a progestin IUD, should last until I’m beyond my childbearing years. You might say I’m a member of the reproductive freedom generation, the short window in US history when many women—though not all, depending on geographic location, social pressures, and economic circumstances—had control over whether and when they had children and, therefore, their destinies.
My oldest son turns 21 this month. When I became pregnant with him, I was not planning to have children. My husband and I were weeks away from receiving our country assignment for the Peace Corps. After a great deal of thought, discussion, and soul-searching, we decided to go ahead with the pregnancy. I had a good job with health insurance. I was in a safe, stable relationship. I was healthy both physically and mentally. In my personal calculus, living in Africa could wait. I was empowered to make this choice by knowing that, had I chosen otherwise, within a twenty minute drive from my home there was a facility where I could undergo a safe, legal outpatient procedure.
Because it was my choice to make, once I decided to become a mother, I went all-in. Had motherhood been foisted on me, however, the experience would have been tainted by resentment and regret. I love my three children with a fierceness I can’t describe, but raising them has frequently been demanding, exhausting, and thankless. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone who wasn’t all-in.
The essays, stories, and poems in this month’s issue, as well as the authors and books featured in profiles and reviews, demonstrate how all-consuming motherhood is and delve into those emotional extremes: the fierce love, the exhaustion, the tenderness, the boredom. It’s important to tell these stories that encompass the full range of the motherhood experience, to tell our truths as women and mothers. To let the world know our voices won’t be silenced.