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What we are learning from Jessica Grose and Kim Brooks about motherhood today.

Ella and Elsa and a green drink 9

What is interesting to me about motherhood are the voices that emerge from the bathroom while wiping up the tiles for the tenth time or from the playground where, for the fifth time in one hour you are negotiating peace. I am not interested in the anecdotes. Those are as common as sand. We all have kids or know kids who sprout teeth, who break legs or who spy things on blades of grass that we ourselves would never pause long enough to see.

What rises from the muffled lands of terry cloth and oatmeal, from healing salve and decisions about immunizations, is what it means for each of these women, what new understanding about the working of this world and their inner lives emerges when they open their mouths or wield paintbrushes. There is new ground to be revealed when the women who are too tired for sex or cocktail parties with adults who aren’t really all that interested in what that odd looking stain is on your shoulder, use the tools they possess or learn on the job to express about this terrain of womanhood.

Just today there are were very challenging and interesting articles about motherhood out on the web. On Salon.com, Kim Brooks, a writer and stay-at-home mother of two, writes about her depression and what buds within her as she encounters memories of her own childhood. Kim very bravely reveals what is almost too painful to talk about in real life. Those moments when, with tears pouring down your cheeks you rally on, serve up the Oatios and carry on as if a mother with steadily pouring tears is as normal as dandelions. Kim takes the reality of her life and lifts it up with her pen, picks apart her memory to knit an intricate expression of the inner life that is also as common as dandelions but hardly ever spoken about.

Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012
Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012

Then on Slate.com, Jessica Grose exposes what Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Face book espouses in her new book, Lean In, as a mishandling of the potential power to affect change for women in the corporate world. I have not yet read Lean In, but from Jessica’s article, I am disheartened to see what one mother, albeit a very powerful mother sees fit to promote. I will leave you to make your own decisions about Sheryl Sandberg’s proposed way welding career and mothering, but I am in awe of Slate author Jessica’s willingness to reveal the realities of her life and shed light on this moment in corporate culture.

In her amazing, simply amazing book, Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed, she wrote,

“It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.”

The personal is at all times political in mothering.
You are always bringing about some level of change that will affect your future and the future of untold numbers by what and how and where you raise your family.
The meaning you reveal, as the authors of Out of the Mouths of Babes and the anthology all do, leads us to a common ground. This expression allows men and women alike to share in an understanding and to see in their lives beautiful resonant intricacies.

Jennifer Boire, a writer and creativity coach from Canada joins the blog series today. Her words and her artwork will take you in.

I am completely interested in what women have to say.

Which is why I’d love you to come to Dewey Hall in Sheffield, MA at 7 pm this Friday.
Or buy An Anthology of Babes: Thirty-Six Women Give Motherhood a Voice here.
Or, simply continue coming by this Laundry Line Divine to listen to women telling stories from the front lines of motherhood.

Some say that art imitates life.
I believe art takes life to a new level of awareness.
We are delighted, comforted and inspired.
We are at times challenged.
We are at times awed.

And we are all, at all times reminded of our immense good fortune to be alive.

Xo S