Mother's Day So On And So Forth
Instead of getting out of bed today, I wrote you this.
My email, which I otherwise refuse to check these days, tells me that we have a lot of new readers! Where are you from? What’s your deal? Tell me everything. (For realz please comment or email me to intro yourself if you feel like it!).
Happy Mother’s Day to all who find it happy, and love and acceptance to all who find it hard, and shared grief and vengeance to all who are feeling disoriented by a national celebration of motherhood occurring just days after a defining win for a massively calculated effort to violate and oppress mothers.
Anyhoo, I wrote this piece, “My Therapist Mothers Me Like No One Else Can,” a Mother’s Day-themed love letter to my therapist of ten years, for Romper this week. It’s part of a really fun series on “Mother Figures” that includes a rousing defense of the beauty of online mom-groups and a son’s ode to his mother’s second act. Check it all out while you lie in bed today fanned by attendants, enthusiastically fan a prone mother with a palm frond while you scroll your phone with your other hand, or just have a regular Sunday.
I wanted to write a million more mothering-themed-love letters for this assignment. To my sisters of varying degrees, my weekly creative support group (who kept me out until 3am Friday night because they not only tolerate but seem to maybe enjoy my R&B-only karaoke choices), my son’s Kindergarten teacher, and the baristas at my local coffee shops who generously flirt with me with a tenderness that, since I’ve become a mom, often moves me to tears.
I’ve also been thinking about what an amazing year for motherhood-related art we’ve had. I’ve read and seen and heard (and smelled?) so many honest, thought-provoking takes on motherhood recently that I am almost considering dropping one of my favorite lines on mom-lit, which is, when someone asks if we need another book about motherhood, to respond, “How many fucking books about the civil war do men need to write, even though literally no one alive today experienced it?! Yeah, we can handle another book about motherhood.” Here are some portrayals of motherhood that got me going since last Mother’s Day:
Everything Everywhere All At Once: Is the love of a mother going to save the universe or destroy it? I don’t 100% know, mostly cause I was a little stoned when I watched it, but also because it’s not for us to fully comprehend. Fun, touching, bananas. Michelle Yeoh for President (the kind that actually does stuff and helps people!).
Nightbitch: Read my sister-wife Courtney Martin’s interview with Rachel Yoder, the author of this feral novel that goes real deep into every crevice of motherhood and has a fucking blast doing it.
The Lost Daughter: Everyone talked this one to death but I’ve never seen a woman I wasn’t supposed to hate be mean to her kids and it meant a lot to me. I think about it at least once a week since I’ve seen it.
Alice Neel’s “People Come First” Exhibit (now at the De Young in SF): I wrote about seeing this in NYC here, but just made me think a lot about being a mother while also being an artist and how and whether those things are compatible.
The Wild Robot Escapes: Peter Brown’s absolutely beautiful sequel (the first book is great too) about a robot getting home to her son, who happens to be a goose. It’s written for kids but I would read it to myself curled up in bed in the adult hours (okay it’s really like 30 minutes with how my kids are “sleeping” these days), even though I can’t for the life of me find any of my fancy reading lights.
This Boy We Made: Taylor Harris’ memoir of raising a child with an unknown medical condition is honest and engaging and made me think a lot about how we treat parents in our various medical and educational systems (she generously includes many nice examples, fyi), especially since I am often in the position of being part of one of those systems facing parents. I read it alongside Jen Gann’s must-read New York Magazine cover-story about having to argue the case for her own son’s wrongful birth, from 2017, which is another powerful look into what it means to be a mother, and how that all interacts with our stupid-ass laws and institutions.
Love you all, see you next time, when no one else will be talking about moms anymore but you can bet your ass we will!
Slowly but surely, the number of porn-related hits that pop-up when you search for my name and this newsletter are diminishing. When fame and fortune come for me, as I know they eventually do for everyone who just kind of sits around waiting for them in her cheetah-print pajamas, and people no longer think of porn when they think of the word “momspreading,” it will be sort of bittersweet, dontcha think? Also, if someone can please explain all of the terms below to be, v grateful. Hard to decipher even though I speak some Czech…
Sarah, many thanks for the fountain of wisdom that continues to flow from your marvelous writing. I always feel extremely fortunate to have Courtney's Newsletter and Momspreading as vital resources. Courtney and I studied the ideas of Emma Goldman in our political theory course at Barnard, so I want to add her outstanding example of wisdom to your sources. She was not a mother, but a midwife who said that she wanted to help deliver a thousand girls and whisper in their tender ears as they entered this unjust world, "REBEL! REBEL!" She then wrote in her revolutionary, inspiring periodical "Mother Earth" (1916) a comment that's especially relevant to our present challenge over Roe vs. Wade: "I will not make peace with a system which degrades women to a mere incubator and which fattens on her innocent victims [children who become exploited workers]. I now and here declare war upon this capitalist system and shall not rest until the path has been cleared for a free motherhood and a healthy, joyous, and happy childhood." For advocating that "women need not always keep their mouths shut, and their wombs open," she went to prison.
EG is my idol, to be emulated today. The best biography of her is by Candace Falk, "Love, Anarchy and Emma Goldman" (1984, not often in public libraries yet easily available, used, for only $4.59, a terrific bargain). Please read it together with EG's superb writings! DD
Thanks for sharing