For each issue of Literary Mama, Literary Reflections shares a writing prompt, inviting our readers to respond. Our editors provide feedback on the responses we receive, and we post our favorites on the blog. This month’s writing prompt is inspired by Jacey Rogel’s Let Grace Lead and Shonac Young’s The Good-enough Mother.
“The kids are fine. I’m the one struggling.” So concludes the opening section of Jacey Rogel’s Literary Reflections essay Let Grace Lead. Shonac Young finds herself in a similar state in The Good-enough Mother. “As someone who was accustomed to spending long periods of time [alone],” she writes, “I was completely unprepared for the impact of a tiny but omnipresent person in my life.” In both pieces, the essayists sort through the emotional complexities of motherhood, under normal conditions as well as during these challenging times, reflecting on the adaptations required as developing children and world affairs prompt the adoption of new routines and modes of family life.
Interestingly enough, the study of literature proves instrumental in assisting the writers in finding their way. Young turns to the realm of fairy tales, myth, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s classic Women Who Run With The Wolves, exploring the notion of the “too-good mother” and how that archetype must eventually be laid to rest in order to spur deeper evolution, an intrinsic sense of self-efficacy. Rogel, on the other hand, finds spare moments to immerse herself in a contemplative essay penned by Jeanne Murray Walker. While pondering the writings of Alice Munro, Walker concludes that meaning can be found in the mundane; value can be found “within the walls of [her] home.”
In the end, Young and Rogel’s essays are thoughtful meditations that include a nudge to ease up on ourselves, realizing that, along with our earnestness and effort, it is ultimately through the workings of grace that we will be “good enough,” in our own eyes as well as in those of our children.
Has a particular literary work become a source of enlightenment or inspiration for reframing your view of motherhood? How has it influenced you in adjusting the way you envision going forward in your role as a parent?
Read the essays written by Young and Rogel and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by November 8, 2020, for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note “October Prompt” in your subject line. Please do not attach the essay; rather, paste the response in the body of the email.