October 2013 marked Literary Mama’s ten year anniversary! On Wednesdays for the next few months we’ll celebrate this milestone with editors and columnists, both past and present. They’ll share what being a part of Literary Mama has meant to them, what they hope for the future of the magazine, and how Literary Mama has shaped their writing, their mothering, and their lives.
B.L. Pike- Columnist
I’ve only come lately to Literary Mama. The thrill of discovering it is still fresh for me, that wonder at finding such a harmony of voices all singing my song. And a new chorus every week, no waiting around for the next installment on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Recently a friend was clearing out boxes from her garage when she found a local newspaper article about our family from 35 years ago. We had only five kids at the time, ages 4 to 11. There they were, smiling at the world out of a grainy black-and-white picture. In the interview the reporter quoted me as saying that raising five kids, most of them adopted, two of them orphaned by the Vietnam conflict, is simply another way of being a mother. That’s what I believed then, and I believe it now. The anticipation of welcoming a new child, the dynamism of a large family, the anxiety of waiting for the homecoming of a child in harm’s way on the other side of the earth—all of these are experiences shared by moms everywhere and throughout all time.
Over the years, though, a sense of isolation crept in. Maybe it was because our family continued to grow, or because several of our kids have disabilities that give our life a look of medical complexity—or simply because our ethnic diversity makes it hard to recognize at first glance that we are a family at all.
I kept searching for that connection with other moms that I believed was still there, but it was elusive. The glossy parenting magazines never tackle those Everywoman realities that don’t fit the up-beat image they want to portray. And the literary journals, despite their beautifully crafted words suited to conveying deeper human experience, are the domain of university presses and student editors with little interest in the issues I share with other moms, however universal those issues might be.
Imagine the refreshment, then, of discovering Literary Mama, a neighborhood of sorts, where we meet as friends and encouragers, listeners, and narrators of our own stories. Where nobody’s story is too surprising or shocking to be told or appreciated, whether it concerns our delights or our unhappiness, the struggles we’ve chosen or those we’ve had thrust upon us. All of it is frank and heartfelt, a real gift for any mom who finds herself off in a corner humming to herself alone.
Happy birthday, Literary Mama! Sing it!