Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Mother Writing Circle

My voice still shakes a tiny bit as I read the piece I’ve just scribbled in the 20 minutes allotted to free-write on a topic given to us by our teacher. She and the six other women listen raptly as I finish reading, and then each of them sighs and gives me meaningful nods and murmurs. I mumble some form of explanation/excuse at the end to prolong the part before feedback begins, but I’m surprised at what I hear.

“That was really good - you really drew us in,” one mother says.
“I loved how you described each item you wrote about - I could picture them,” another one tells me.
“You painted a vivid scene that we could all see,” our teacher says.
I can’t help but ask the shy-artist question, “You really liked it?” to which I get more meaningful nods and murmurs before we move on to the next person.

I am left stunned and so very grateful. A piece I never would have written if not for the “writing start” in this writing class for moms has not only proved to be amazingly therapeutic for me, but also decent enough to gain my classmates’ approval. And that means a lot.

A month ago, I didn’t know these women. Well, I knew of the teacher, the journalist, Cori Howard, whose book had become my Bible for motherhood. Besides being both completely excited and intimidated by that fact, I could not wait to meet other women who shared my passion for writing about being moms. And now here I was, so very privileged to be a part of this circle of creative goddesses.

They are brilliantly bright, irreverently funny and so very honest. As one woman reads her piece, I laugh so hard I have to take my glasses off to wipe the tears from my eyes. But my tears turn real when her piece transitions to her serious fears and overwhelming uncertainty. We sit at the end of our leather bound chairs to listen to each other over the sound of the traffic and crosswalk signals. We hear family secrets and anguished reflections; we see snapshots of the ridiculous moments of parenthood and the sublime moments with children. In writing, we connect with our own truths, and in sharing, we connect with each other.

One woman writes of the inane conversations that happen amongst new mothers. And yet, here we are, a bunch of would-be strangers who also happen to be moms who write, exposing our vulnerabilities and sharing what’s most intimate. And as we find the guts to share with each other, we receive support from the circle. And in that support, we gain confidence to take more risks, to be honest to the core, and to keep writing.

Writing and motherhood, both solitary activities in this culture, have drawn us together. Now, as a collective, we are free to find our voice.

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