“I write about my uterus,” I said
laughing, nervously. My mom’s friend gave me a tight smile. “What about your
“How I use it.”
My joke was going nowhere. I stuttered an explanation. I get paid to
write and mostly I do so about motherhood and the experience of being a mom.
She asked me if I knew a few famous bloggers, I don’t. I sometimes tweet at
them. But we aren’t friends. She went back to the kitchen to talk to my mom
I find myself in this position a lot — explaining what I do.
I didn’t set out to be a mom blogger or a mom writer. It just happened.
I have been writing and freelancing for nine years. I’ve been blogging for
12 years. But I’ve only been a mother for three and a half. Something
happened when I got pregnant with my daughter. I still can’t explain it. I
described this phenomenon once, bitterly to my dear friend who has a Ph.D. in the
Old Testament, she knows Hebrew and Ugaritic. (I had to Google how to spell
“Once I had a baby,” I told her, “it was like, suddenly what I said was
interesting and then I started getting published. Like real published. No one
wanted to hear me before I procreated.”
She laughed, but shook her head. “Or maybe motherhood made you a better
writer. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s our vulnerabilities that make us
accessible and maybe that’s what happened with you. You just needed to find
what made you accessible.”
This is why she has the Ph.D.
Maybe it’s these adorable, exasperating little open-heart wounds that opened up my writing in a way it never was before.
I frequently wonder about the wisdom of her words as I write my own. All
too often I find myself struggling when I write about my children. Where is the
line? Will I violate their privacy? What is their story? What is mine? Where is
the line between them and me? Between created and creator? Between mother and
daughter? Mother and son?
My kids make me bleed. They did it the moment they were born. They do it
every day, whether it’s scratches from the baby’s fingernails or an accidental
bump from my daughter, or a late night conversation when she crawls into bed
and asks me if I missed her before she was born. Did I? I’ve never thought
about it before, but yes. All of a sudden, yes. And it’s 1 in the morning and
my heart is bleeding all over this cramped Queen bed. Then the baby cries and I
go in and rock him and feel like I want to sleep forever and want to hold him
forever. And maybe it’s these adorable, exasperating little open-heart wounds
that opened up my writing in a way it never was before.
Lena Dunham was recently profiled in the New
York Times Magazine in a write-up that is only glancingly critical of her
confessional style, her appropriation of the stories of her sister Grace, her
vulnerabilities that she bleeds all over the page, all over the TV. Ultimately,
the profile seems to conclude, these confessions, painful and intimate are what
endear her writing to us — a generation of women confessing all over the Internet.
Like Dunham, I am a Millennial (albeit a few years older). Like Dunham,
I’ve been criticized for my confessions, for my appropriations of stories. But
like Dunham, I too find my redemption here — writing through wounds.
Men who confess are powerful. Women? When we confess we overshare, we appropriate, we are handed a tissue and told to go clean ourselves up.
And of course, I’ve been wounded other ways. But for me there has been
nothing more literally wounding than motherhood, than a human tearing its way
through my vagina, ripping me to shreds — leaving my blood and poop everywhere
for a janitor to mop up while I held the mewling love of my life, still
covered in bits of me.
In her essay, “The Grand Unified Theory of Female
Leslie Jameson asks, “Women still have wounds: broken hearts and broken bones
and broken lungs. How do we talk about these wounds without glamorizing them?
Without corroborating an old mythos that turns female trauma into celestial
constellations worthy of worship?”
This is the tension isn’t? The writing of women. How do we write through
our wounds without glamorizing, without mythologizing?
I am no Dunham of course. But I find power in the confession of her
work. The shared confession of women everywhere — mothers and others. I think
that this is what cracks us open, what makes us accessible. This is why we
write about our children, our open heart wounds.
Before I go, it is worth noting that these questions, these demands are
never made of men. Men who confess are powerful. Women? When we confess we
overshare, we appropriate, we are handed a tissue and told to go clean
So, I cling to this idea that by standing and writing, wound to wound,
we share pain and laughter and really? Isn’t that the point?