Artifacts of motherhood: Out of the Mouths of Babes

motherhood is my context

I know being a mother does not limit me. But I also know that it defines me. These artifacts of motherhood—spit up and stickers, boogers, and waffles—these are my landscape and my context in the same way Yoknapatawpha was for Faulkner—a physical manifestation of an inward landscape. I will write beyond this, I will write through it and out of it. My torn nails. My weak pelvic floor. The burn of my lips as I suck them into bite between my teeth.

Lyz Lenz


Out of the Mouths of Babes is one of my projects. I took a break from Out for almost two years. This project grew from my need to build an author platform, which means finding a place to be seen somewhere beyond reading the lessons at church and in my kitchen wearing an apron. Out gave me and a whole bunch of other women an opportunity to share creative work from inside motherhood. Visual artists, singers, photographers, and a few filmmakers have contributed to this project over the past 5 years, since it has been a thing, Out of the Mouths of Babes. It is a big thing, is a colorful thing, it is a live event, it is an online gallery of women’s work, and it is something I love.

I wondered, over these past months, since my kids are just now, as of this morning, out of the house, one living in a college dorm and the other in a house that would not meet fire code if I were in charge that town, is my context shifting?

Do I still want to write from inside motherhood? Is this still important?

Then Karen shared this post from Sara Genn at the Painter’s Keys:

“The goal is to remake the world so that our choices are not so stark,” wrote Naomi Wolf. But even with more balanced support, less stigma and better help, there remains a conflict of two internal worlds: Art is a vocation of solitude, privacy, rumination and patience. Parenting demands that we eschew solitude for nurturing. Those artists willing to leap and straddle the twin passions of art and motherhood blaze a trail with their defiance. “Motherhood,” said Gilda Radner, is “the biggest gamble in the world. It is the glorious life force. It’s huge and scary — it’s an act of infinite optimism.”

And this from my friend Jennifer. I pretty much write for Jennifer while she takes care of her two sweet boys.

Out of the Mouths of Babes blazes a trail.

We all have a confounding urge to grow.

Like the daffodils that insist on poking their heads up this afternoon, in spite of the promised SNOWMAGEDDEON tomorrow, we cannot help but to reach toward light. And in the case of women, many of whom are mothers, we grow within the roles we take on over the course of our lives and stuff marks us, makes us, and we make a life of the whole crazy thing. That elixir is where writing from inside motherhood happens. We make poems, films, or dances from the question

“What does life look like to you, from in there?”

The other day, one of my yoga teachers, a young woman with two sparkly little kids asked me, “Don’t you do something about motherhood, you know, with writing. Haven’t you performed with a bunch of women?”

I had to say yes.
This is true.
I do do stuff about motherhood.
And I do perform, and gladly, with bunches of women.

So, because of and for Annie and those persisting daffodils, here we go.

Today the new Out of the Mouths of Babes blog submission launches.

It is about something entirely different. And it is open to everyone, especially mothers, and also people with mothers. That might be you, right?

Go here to read the call for submissions.

And whatever the case, if you are a sculptor, or a dancer, or a toast maker, if you shovel compost and make gardens, or make legal briefs, sermons, or television shows, if you plot patient care or drive a bus, wherever you live, whatever you do, if you have a creative response to this prompt, then let me know.

All the details are here.

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Here are some views from the Out of the Mouths of Babes live events all by photographer Christina Rahr Lane.

Here is the blog series. I don’t have all of the past pages up in this new gallery on this website, so if you are looking for a particular post that you thought was there, please have patience with me. My staff and I are on it. (I am my own staff BTW. Ain’t no one here but us chickens.)

More later.
I am off to write my own.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Barb Buckner Suarez

    (I am my own staff BTW. Ain’t no one here but us chickens.) Suzi Banks Baum, I adore you! And I will seriously consider adding my voice to this wonderful collection you have birthed and curated so lovingly over the years. What a gift to mothers and motherhood you are! XOXOXOXO

  • Jennifer Gandin Le

    The stuff you do about motherhood is lifeblood to me. And I know that if it is such for me, it is so for many others, too. I’m blushing with gratitude over here, that I have the honor of being anywhere on your radar as you do this gorgeous work. That confounding urge to grow, dangit. It is the work of motherhood and of being an artist and I hope and trust that it is the biggest gift we can give our children. Love you so, and I’m off to read your call for submissions right after this nap with a snotty baby.

    Forever love,

  • janet

    hurray for the new round!

    more voices, more songs.