What Do You Stand For?

Do you wonder what the heck the Laundry Line thing is about?

I feel compelled to tell you a few things clearly, because today, my art day, is when my husband covers the home front and I have long hours to contemplate, write and work.

There are hours in my life, when I am wrangling some issue with my kids, when the ticking of dinner hour’s approach clashes with what I’d rather be doing, when the wash and the piles of cares weigh in on me and I’d rather toss my dreams and turn back to the kitchen sink and go back to simply and only being a mom. Not a woman with a voice urged by the Divine or My Muses or my itchy itch to speak up- who in speaking up is giving voice to the inner life of one mother and holding space for other mothers to speak up.

When I feel this conflict, this rub, tears welling around the corners of my eyes and my throat thick, I turn to my friends. Here are some of the writings on the World Wide Web that buoyed me.

My friend Gina led me to this blog where a woman named Susan wrote this:

Am I different because I’m a mother? There’s no way you can’t be. I don’t know that I’m a better person. I could not imagine losing my children and surviving, but I can easily imagine never having had them.
Once you have children, what shifts is what you have to lose. That is different about me. I can’t say what I think a lot of other mothers say, that it’s made me deeper, or better, or kinder, or more loving, or more self-sacrificing or anything like that. I think it’s made me more aware of what I have to lose.
As much as it’s a hard thing to admit, I am at best ambivalent about motherhood. On my worst days, I regret motherhood. On my best days I’m ambivalent.
I take good care of my children and I love them to the best of my capacity. I know I’m not a great mother. I work towards being a good enough mother. But I think a lot about what my life would be like if I hadn’t had children, and I know it’s not the best thing I ever did. It is the only thing I ever did that I can’t undo.

I learned this about myself because of Susan’s truth telling.

The permanence of mothering- the indefatigable nature of this job I find myself in, has re-wired me entirely.

My friend Kelly wrote this on her blog:

Most writers I’ve met are passionate, creative and have the ability to take a deep look inside themselves and dissect their very being into whys, what’s and how do I make that part of me better. It’s refreshing really, to meet someone who sees all their flaws, still loves themselves and their lives, and can laugh at themselves to boot. I dig that. The writers I’ve met put themselves out there for all to see and there is very little left unseen or unsaid, and I admire that honesty.

Then, my friend Jan Phillips tore me up with her writing on the Huffington Post:

The creative force is rumbling through the cells of every female, a cacophony of ideas, urges, manifestations. It is falling like rain, roaring like a tsunami, boiling like water for afternoon tea. Who we are is what we create — our furies, our despair, our ecstasies become the poems, the novels, the operas and plays that melt a heart, change a mind, stamp a culture with its indelible ink.

So, I must add my voice to this mix and become the balm I seek.

My Common Purpose

I write. I make art. I am a mother who has been raised by motherhood. I raise my children to know the caress of the sun, to feel the press of moss underfoot, to sniff the baking apple and to tell the story from inside a decision to make joyous. This is no small task. No one believes that what is joyful will sell. I do. No one believes that the ordinary is extraordinary. I do. My prayer, the way I live my life is to create and live the vibrancy of the first breath of morning and the glow of Orion’s belt at night. My prayer, the decides to do all day long, to put my attention here here here back in to the lap of this mother, this person who feels pressed to express. I live so I will be not be forgotten, if only by two people who laid their heads down on sun dried pillowcases each night to dream in a house not riddled by anger or fear. Because I know in raising them as citizens of this home they become citizens of the world. They will see pain and know the confidence of moving towards love. This I write. This I invite.

There is much to celebrate here on the Laundry Line.
My next writing workshop in The Powder Keg Sessions is this Sunday November 18 at 2pm.
And, March 1, 2013 we open the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers with ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ at Dewey Hall in Sheffield, MA. I hope you will mark your calendar for that night will also be a book launch for ‘An Anthology of Babes: 30 Women Give Motherhood A Voice’. This is a crazy fun project I cooked up to raise funds for producing this event and to support two important organizations that benefit women here in Berkshire County.

Stay tuned.
Now you can get up and dance.


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Showing 8 comments
  • janet

    become the Baum you seek! now there’s a manifesto if ever I heard one!


  • jenn

    nice post SUzie, better than nice, damn good writing. I love that you acknowledge the sharing and partnering that even makes it possible to create and mother and get no paycheck. and I love this line “I am a mother who has been raised by motherhood”. I think of motherhood as my spiritual growing journey, I would not be this person I am without it. I can’t imagine who I was before, or barely remember at any rate, who I was 23 years ago. I have been shaped and formed like water shapes the rock, by the needs and demands and joys and pains of mothering children. They’re almost grown now, only the thin line of text and email joining us most of the year. I am growing into my own creative space and spreading wings now, but I was ‘growed up’ by motherhood. Thanks for this wholehearted exploration of your roots, stalks and leaves, as well as fruit 🙂

  • Irene

    Wow, beautiful words, comforting, honest and real. I am about to celebrate 20 years as a mother. It is a journey that I love, but have grappled with the missing bits for me off and on over all these years. I am so glad to have found your blog….as a new student exploring my Self in a Women’s Studies program at the ripe old age of 47, my first big paper is about motherhood and feminism. I’ll stay tuned! Thank you!

  • suzi

    Welcome to the Laundry Line, Irene. I am so glad you are here. Jenn- I appreciate your thoughts and I notice how you are expanding in your new space as a mother of children who live in other places. And thank you Janet! I am certainly that. xooxo Thank you readers all! Love, S

  • Jennifer Gandin Le

    Suzi, as always, you inspire and puff wind back into my sails. I stand with you tonight, at the end of a day when my son woke at 4:30 and didn’t nap until 11, when we slept through the first 30 minutes of our sitter arriving and sitting outside our house, when I managed to make soup for dinner but it finished too late and we ate leftovers instead and there was lots of crying because I wouldn’t let him crack an egg…

    All of that is to say that I stand with you, for women, for creative women, for mothers who do so much with so little sometimes. I stand for the emotional space for every woman to feel what it is she needs to feel.

    Love you. I’m sorry to miss you this morning. xoxo

  • Miranda

    Thank you, thank you, Suzi. How I feel at home where women write about motherhood this way. It’s not puppies and rainbows. At least, not for me. I’ve been doing this for 22 years and I still have a long way to go (my youngest is only 4). There are days when, quite honestly, I don’t want to do it anymore. I just want to do what I want to do, but I can’t, because I made all these little people and I can’t hop off the merry go round.

    For me, it’s harder as I get older and more comfortable just being ME. I don’t need to be Mom. But I *am* Mom, and so it is. At this point I just do my best to love them, help them along the path to being their own best selves, and try not to eff them up too much.

    Thank you for being a point of sanity in the echo chamber of internet motherhood.

    • Suzi

      Oh…thank you for these words women. You are each important members of my Tribe- Miranda, Jennifer, Jenn, and Janet. Welcome Irene to this ‘point of sanity in the echo chamber of internet motherhood’ as Miranda wrote. So good. Tons of love you each, doing it the crazy best way you know how. Love, S

  • kristine

    beautiful…so much to balance…easier to surrender and lose yourself in the chaos. but then the space once held for creativity, dreams and possibilities is taken up with resentment. my daughters are independent women now, discovering and holding onto the things that make them feel like individuals that matter. i am going about the task of rediscovering those things for myself, making space and time to reclaim what has been set aside. I commend you.