Thank goodness for art. Here we are together, sharing another issue of this literary journal, in which writers thoughtfully explore parenthood in this world of disruption, difficulty, and violence. There’s still humor and affection and ambition alongside anxiety and gut-wrenching loss. It has been 18 years since Literary Mama first appeared online, and I’m proud that our latest issue is still doing what our founders set out to do: revealing and honoring the many faces of motherhood.
We hope you enjoy this edition of Literary Mama, filled as always with sweet and melancholy stages of motherhood and the beautiful awareness that motherhood is change.
As I read the pieces in this issue of Literary Mama, I’m reminded that the only guarantee in life is change: One mother questions her career choice. A mother contemplates her own death. Yet another navigates her shifting relationship with her adult son. As mothers, we must learn to embrace each moment, while also letting go of our children at every turn.
Motherhood may be our journal’s common theme, but mothering is as varied as living, and I can still be disoriented by a challenging perspective or drawn in by an unexpected turn of phrase. Meanwhile, these writers also remind me to write—or at least to think seriously about writing while I revise a manuscript.
This is what we honor here at Literary Mama, through the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry we publish—moments of motherhood. Whether they are painful, beautiful, terrifying, funny, or just plain ordinary, it is these moments that make up our days, our years, and our lives.
As humans and as parents, it’s easy to get mired in the large and small disappointments of the day and to forget that hope exists, but among the pages of our journal, we hope you find what you need to get you through the days ahead.
I hope that we can all continue to find ways to connect to others, to the past, and to our own curiosity, ways that cut us loose from the monitor’s glare. I hope, too, that here, you’ll find both inspiration and understanding as you parent through the pandemic.
Perhaps it’s self-indulgent to exist on this other, fantasy plane for a few hours each day. But it’s also necessary for my mental health to remember and envision a world where toddlers chase frogs and preschoolers snack on violets and the breath of other humans isn’t potentially deadly. I hope that, in the same way, the stories and poems in this issue of Literary Mama give you a few moments of respite from the world as it is.
Years from now, they won’t be talking about the sparkling speeches or the stuffiness of the arena, the inadequate sound system or the teacher who just couldn’t hold it together. Instead, they’ll mention face masks, virtual classrooms, first responders, and armed protests as well as flutters of anxiety, moments of ennui, and stretches of discontent.
What I love about all the pieces in this issue is that these writers don’t just tell scary stories; they show us how characters weather the storms, how people cope with loss, and how mothers move through pain and come out the other side stronger and more powerful. It’s times like these when we need great writers and great writing to inspire us. And I believe you will find both here.
I’m shy of resolutions and their self-defeating magnitude, but with each new year, I return to this quiet intention: to read more books. For most mothers, that’s not as simple as it sounds. Work and family and community involvement take up so much of my time that I can only justify entertainment if I’m being somehow productive at the same time: watching Call the Midwife while I fold laundry, listening to The Splendid Table while I cook, enjoying familiar music while I prepare an editor’s letter
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