You may remember that I have some strong feelings on the subject of writing about motherhood, and some very strong feelings on the specific topic of writing about motherhood as a writer who is not a mother.
So it may not surprise you that I was intrigued when I read Wordamour’s description of a new anthology “about all the different forms mothering can take.” Edited by Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, it’s called Mothers In All But Name, and, as its subtitle suggests, it features contributions from “grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends, strangers, and nannies.” In fact, I was intrigued enough to order a copy, and to read it this past weekend.
There are a lot of personal/familial reasons this subject matter resonates with me (and I’d love to have an anthology assignment to prompt me to write an essay of my own about [one or more of] them). But as a writer, and as a writer who has already been pretty outspoken about the feasibility of non-mothers writing fiction “about” motherhood, I have to admit that these lines resonated with me instantly:
In the ten years between [a job as a nanny for a child with special needs] and bearing my own children, I carry my other motherhood like a phantom limb. In graduate school, I occasionally write stories that celebrate the bonds of parents and children, stories that are generally well received, some even published in literary magazines. One chain-smoking visiting writer, however, eying my twenty four year old countenance (undoubtedly undercut by a relentlessly baby face) insists that I write what I know.
‘What,’ she asks, waving my manuscript about a father who fears his daughter might be abducted ‘Do you know about being a parent?’
Mothers In All But Name is definitely not the showiest, most polished, or glossiest “mama” anthology you’re likely to find, but it’s certainly a worthwhile addition to the literature on motherhood.