What Do Mothers Make? Plays, poems, beds and books

Karen Arp-Sandel, SBB, Barbara Newman, Jayne Atkinson at OUT 2014

Karen Arp-Sandel, SBB, Barbara Newman, Jayne Atkinson at OUT 2014

There is so much to say about this topic.


Friday, March 28th,  I am part of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and WAM Theatre‘s production of Motherhood Out Loud.

My friend Jayne Atkinson is directing the play comprised of monologues that capture the journey of motherhood from many different perspectives, from 8 women and one man. Originally produced in NYC, this production is in the Berkshires for just this weekend. And, because Jayne and producer Susan R. Rose with WAM producer Kristen van Ginhoven are all brave archetype-busting women, they have invited a few Berkshire authors to offer new monologues to each performance.

I am one of them.

I am thrilled. Many of you LLD readers know that my first profession is theatre. I spent the first 15 years of my professional life as an actor who also stage-managed and sewed costumes. I love theatre. It all began at the Indian Line Boundary Park in Chicago, but that is a different story. Just know I played a rat.

This Friday and for two of the three performances, WAM will host a discussion with some of the acting company, Jayne, Susan and Kristen, along with several guests, me included, to talk about women’s voices and in particular mothers. Kristen posed some questions to us in preparation for the panel.

How do you balance raising your children and keeping your own creative juice flowing in your life?

How is this generation the same and/or different from our own mothers?

My response appears on the WAM blog here.

Tickets are available here.

What keeps rolling around in my mind is this: As I study the feminine psyche and how women have developed in this culture, where women’s voices are valued and where we have a surging of power through new levels of engagement, like with this play, with the Festival, with WAM Theatre, with OUT, with IWWG, with the Women’s Media Center, with Women’s Voices, Women’s Vision– so many things that intrigue and captivate me right now are about this topic-

where and when we feel safe and welcome to speak, where and when we speak because our lives depend on it, where and when we speak to lift up the lives of others who have not yet discovered their voices.

There is so much to do! When I heard Gloria Steinem speak a few weeks ago, she urged us to gather in circles and tell our stories. Yes, yes, yes to that I say!

But it all begins with our own voices.

We cannot do for or with others what we have not done for our selves. Maybe you are like me, and devoured the works of Willa Cather or Erica Jong in high school, or if Laura Ingalls Wilder or Marguerite Henry kept you company in your mod floral wall-papered bedrooms, you know that the voices of those women writers were the very beginning. They told stories of family lives on the prairie or in Brooklyn that did not quite touch on my real life, but brought me through the lens of story, in to the lives of families. Those books kindled a sense of the world in me. I was led in to the world by women writers. Perhaps your titles are different from mine. I would love to hear what women writers were guiding lights for you as a young person.

“Our creative work reveals us to ourselves.” ~Jan Phillips

And it is up to us to continue this story-telling. It can be as simple as writing letters or keeping a journal.
I am asking you to keep track, as Audre Lourde says,


“I am my best work- a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.”


Where are your front lines?

This what I have discovered with Laundry Line Divine and laundry lines, which are my front lines, I guess. (not so glam, but what the heck)

Because I am a theatre person, I love to play with others. That is how Out of the Mouths of Babes, the event and the blog series came to be. It is why I said yes, when Jayne asked me to write a monologue to offer tomorrow evening. My knees will be knocking. And I will step up because I have learned that telling stories from inside my motherhood makes the way for another to tell her story. Maybe that person is you today?

After our March 1 event, Barbara Newman, pictured above, sent me a poem she wrote, inspired by the words she heard that evening. I know that the work of one, be it a painting, collage, story, poem or sonata bears the possibility of igniting the light of another.
Being connected through expression makes for some strong relationships. I see it as Sue Monk Kidd offers in Dance of the Dissident Daughter:

“Goddess is that which unites, connects, and affirms the interrelatedness of all life, all people. Being related is at the core of Divine Feminine Being. She is the dance of relation, the mystery of the Divine communing with herself in all things.
Connectedness is intrinsic in female life…” Sue Monk Kidd

Being connected.

So Barbara’s poem appears in the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series here today.

Thank you for offering your work here Barbara, for your connection and your love.

Here is a peek:


She makes herself stop crying
when she’s aching for a life outside the recipe box of motherhood
She makes her lips curl up in a smile..
because, that’s what mom’s do.
They make do…
They make peace.
They make sacrifices…
And when she sees through the lens of gratitude..,
She makes it all into a blessing…
That’s her secret…
It’s how she makes magic.

~Barbara Newman

This hefty posts stands in for the long-assed newsletter I was going to write today, celebrating Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday and reminding you about the BFWW event tonight at Kripalu and about the one I am in tomorrow afternoon at the Rockwell Museum…but really, I ain’t gonna get to it. I need time to dance to this:



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  • Lorrin Krouss

    During this wonderful month of March, filled with one BFWW event after another, I did feel as if I was sitting around a campfire sharing stories. I found my own place in this month long circle and loved it! Women and girls of all ages talking about events in their lives that changed them. For some, they had found a new path to travel on and they took us along on the journey. Poetry, prose, art and theatre. It has all been a magnificient feast. None of us will walk away hungry, but we will want more……… Thank you Suzi, for your never-ending creativity and your passion to bring out the best in all that know you. All the best with your monologue this weekend.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      So happy Lorrin, to see you creating your path with BFWW. I get to be the “I remember when” holder of a vision of you that is quite incongruous with the woman I see today! Congratulations on finding and helping create your tribe! With love, S