At some point in all of our lives we feel an outside pressure to, putting it plainly, give birth. And yes, in the Stone Age, it was expected. But not now. I admit, I have given the whole “having kids” thing some thought, and, for the most part, I am undecided. I will smile at the cute baby in the buggy or the toddler making funny faces, but it doesn’t mean I want one of my own, even if that is the mistaken assumption of others if I opt to hold the newest baby in the family or wave back at a curious two year old. I can think they’re cute, but that is as far as it goes. Of course, it doesn’t help that I am only in my 20’s, just getting my career off the ground, and still living apart from my boyfriend.
So, here I am with these conflicting thoughts on motherhood and whether or not it is in my future and I’m wondering, “I can’t be the only one who thinks this way, right?” Watching various people I grew up with get engaged, get married, and get pregnant (whether or not in that exact order), I was beginning to think…maybe I was.
Well, the book launch on April 15, 2014 of The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood edited by Kerry Clare thankfully proved me wrong. It was hosted in the infamous Ben McNally’s bookstore (If you haven’t been, I suggest you do. The interior and its contents are to-die-for beautiful).
Upon initially arriving I felt terribly out of place. There were a lot of older, more than likely married women with children running around. I began to think…maybe this was a bad idea. I was wrong to think so, of course, because that evening was not about “motherhood” and “mothers” in which the definition of both translates into “women who are married with kids.” The M Word is a much larger conversation than that and it takes being a mom to a whole new level. It talks about becoming a mom, waiting to become a mom, becoming a mom through different methods, and deciding not to become a mom at all. It is a very liberating, honest collection of real stories that are frank in the best way possible. There is no sugar coating or pretending to be the stereotypical “super mom” every child thinks he or she knows and loves.
The evening opened up with the editor, Kerry Clare, talking about the book and how it all began. A fantastically personable individual, she started the book launch off right. She discussed how the concept for The M Word came about and not too surprisingly, it came from conversations she had been having about motherhood with other moms. And it was through having these heart-to-heart talks with other women that Kerry came up with her idea of collecting all these truthful, even anti-conformist ideas of what motherhood means and making a book out of it. One literary agent and a book deal with Goose Lane Editions later and The M Word was in business, and now out just in time for Mother’s Day! (If you are behind on the whole gift thing, here’s a helpful option. It is only a week away now.)
After Kerry’s introduction, each of the contributors who were present for the evening came up and read a short excerpt from their essays. This blog post would become unbearably long if I were to go through each of the contributor’s talks, but I will say that there is no doubt in my mind that each hit a familiar chord with someone in that audience, young and old, married and single, even me, and frankly, I am just starting my life in the “real” world post-university. However, there were a couple stories that resonated with me the most. In particular, Julia Zarankin’s “Leaving the Eighteenth Floor.” While I’m not currently planning on having children or trying in the same way as Julia, her words stuck. In her essay, she talks a lot about planning and preparing and trying to take control, which in the end only eluded her because of her obsessing about it. Minus the whole wanting to get pregnant part (definitely not there yet), I could understand how she felt. Interning, job hunting, money problems…I also have felt like I am grappling for control of certain aspects of my life only never to find it. It can be quite frustrating, and Julia has some great advice at the end of her essay: Let go of the “master plan.” It isn’t giving up, but it is letting go of the fine-tuning and the obsessing, which is something we all should do. Life is messy. Accept it and go with it.
After listening to stories like Julia’s, I realized as much as The M Word’s theme is motherhood, it is also about good old plain-jane life. I hope to fully read this book at some point, but I already know that it is chock full of relateable stories that will mean something different to every woman who reads it.
So what is the honest to goodness truth of what the “m” word means? For me, imperfection. So put away your “how to” books and breath. My mother has always told me there are no guidelines or hard-and-fast rules to cling to when you become a parent (or choose not to, for that matter). You wing it, and you learn as you go and hope for the best.
I think she did a pretty good job.
One final word on The M Word book launch, Kerry Clare has the cutest little girl imaginable (pictured to the left). I had to say it. Noisy or quiet, she was adorable. She was also great publicity for the book. I am pretty sure everyone in attendance cooed at her appearance more than once…guilty as charged.
Thank you, ladies, for writing The M Word and finally putting in print what many women have been thinking, and thank you to Ben McNally for generously hosting the book launch.
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of The M Word, which I highly suggest you do (it makes a beautiful Mother’s Day present for old and new mothers alike), you can get one from the publisher’s website Goose Lane Editions, Indigo, Amazon, or beautiful independent bookstores everywhere, such as Ben McNally Books in Toronto!