Motherhood Writing Life

Give and Take: Motherhood and Creative Practice

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, and while I may not be one of those writers who can remember the first book they wrote at five years old about bunnies, I have many memories of working away on my craft through stories, poems, essays, even a couple of monologues. As I got older and a little more confident in the quality of what I was writing, I began submitting some of my work to creative writing journals, local and national. It was a thrill to get that first acceptance. I still remember it: a flash fiction piece. From there, I published in many journals, but I was hesitant to pursue anything longer, anything that could be considered a “book.”

It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I really got serious about writing. Suddenly time didn’t seem like this endless thing, but something finite. Looking back now, taking the plunge to write longer, more focused pieces of writing while in the thralls of first-time motherhood seems very naive, but I’ve always had an all-in kind of attitude.

Give and Take: Motherhood and Creative Practice

Recently I recieved my contributor copy for an anthology called Give & Take: Motherhood and Creative Practice. The collection “explores the diverse ways contemporary artists navigate the unique tensions of motherhood in all its varied stages.” I have a short essay called “On Maternity Leave” in the section of the book called “Motherhood and the Experience of Time.” I was thrilled when I read that section title. I felt like the editors, Tara Carpenter Estrada, Katie Palfreyman, and Hilary Wolfley, displayed a level of insight in the curation of this collection that is such a gift to a writer. In the preface to the section, they included the following analysis of my essay: In “On Maternity Leave,” writer Taryn Hubbard describes how becoming a parent constricted her sense of time…Paradoxically, as some aspects of time compressed for Hubbard, others expanded” (140).

In my essay “On Maternity Leave,” I’m sharing my experience being on maternity and trying to balance a writing life and ultimately feeling insecure about it.

Here are two of my favourite exerpts:

Before I had children, I thought of time differently. Life seemed long, I felt like there would be time to get my ideas together, to produce something I was proud of, to master my craft. I figured it would happen “some day,” that I had the time to get there in my own way. When my daughter was born, those loose ideas of time went out the window. My life was finite. I had mouths to feed, butts to wipe, cookie crumbs to vacuum. I had a sleep schedule and a grocery list. Swimming lessons and ballet. I awoke in the middle of the night on urgent rescue missions because beloved stuffed animals had rolled onto the floor and my daughter wouldn’t stop crying until reunited. My life as a mother, a partner, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a worker, and a community member was finite. Every single aspect of my life took time, sometimes a lot of it. Embodying all those roles alongside being a writer who also actually produced things and attempted to get published? Well, I just wasn’t so sure of all that once I became a mother.

“On Maternity Leave” in Give and Take: Motherhood and Creative Practice.

Later on in the essay, I share a special moment between my daughter and I.

A week ago, my daughter in one of her usual campaigns to draw out bedtime asked me if I “would be the best writer ever.” I was stunned. I asked her to repeat herself; surely, she wasn’t asking me about something like writing, about my writing, about me? So she said it again, and this time I gently pulled her into a hug and I felt a rush of unexpected tears leak down my cheeks. Her comment touched my heart. No, I wouldn’t be the best writer ever, but maybe, with her encouragement, I could write. I could think. I could create. I would write because I had stories to tell and I’d carve out the time away from family to do it. Time for myself. Time for my thoughts. She brushed her teeth and went to bed after a few stories, not understanding how much her comment meant to me. I don’t mention it to her again, but I think about it often.

“On Maternity Leave” in Give and Take: Motherhood and Creative Practice.

I was grateful to receive my contributor copy of the anthology and to have the chance to relive this time in my life. The collection is full of incredible work by writers exploring all angles of motherwood and creativity, from interviews, to essays, to artworks, to poetry. It’s intimate and authentic, immediate and necessary. I recommend checking it out.