Early on when I had just one child, a six-month-old at that, one of my childhood friends and I went into business making block-prints. I figured I could use my art-brain until my post-partum writing brain righted itself.
I lived downtown and my friend lived by the sea. I’d put my girl in the car, stopping at Bill’s Farm Basket for fresh strawberries, a bag of malt balls, the occasional pint of heavy cream to accompany the cups of tea I knew were waiting for me.
My friend put on a good CD or two, back then it was Dido, My lover’s gone / his boots no longer by my door… with the haunting line: no earthly ships will ever bring him home again, both of us living out the unearthly psychic, emotional rearranging that goes on with the father of one’s child. Remember that stage? When one’s focus rivets fast to the infant, leaving one’s lover to wonder who he married, if in fact those were not her boots, his wife’s, missing from his door.
Thus lulled by song and the mirroring of our situations, my friend and I sketched, carved, and rolled out our prints, our two babies in their bouncy chairs. We’d drink tea in beautiful china cups all the sunny afternoon long. We eventually placed our cards in a half dozen local stores, but when it came down to it, we were earning just under 50 cents for each card.
With the births of two additional children came the realization that in fact my energy had finite borders. That if I wanted to pursue my life as a writer, I’d better let the block-prints go for the time being. But if it hadn’t been for those weeks of conversation with my friend (and the years prior), sketching Calla lilies and seahorses, I wouldn’t have been ready to step to the next dream-stone.
My father, a lifelong musician and artist himself stepped in with the birth of my first child and offered his help. We picked out a day and for the last eleven years he has given me one full day each week to write, one day I can always count on; he too, with that priceless gift of writing days stretching behind me and endlessly before me, provided a dream-stone (and still does).
And as my block-print focus ebbed, I sat at my new writing home, Coffee Catz, sleep deprived and top heavy with mother’s milk, writing in my journal (the only kind of writing I could sustain back then), perusing Poets and Writers, which is where I came across a call for entries for Labor Pains and Birth Stories put forward by Jessica Powers (my co-conspirator here at Mother Writer Mentor).
Fresh from a second labor fraught with unexpected turns, I started and finished a draft for Jessica about the birth of my son. I eventually submitted the essay, eventually sent her a block-print, eventually offered to help her promote the finished anthology, booking us a few tables locally. Out of that shared enthusiasm for projects wedding mothers and writing, Jess invited me to be Poetry Editor at The Fertile Source. I gain immense joy from reading the poems that come our way. And every time I open photograph attachments for each writer soon to be gracing our website, I break out into a smile and gratitude floods the old heart–I swear.
And from that dream-stone (thank you Jess), as you know, I find myself midstream, perched on yet another dream-stone: Mother Writer Mentor. It takes a village to raise a child, they say, and I would add, to nurture a mother back to her former self–maybe more accurately, to help her find her transformed self rich with the body knowledge of labor and the ongoing psyche-shifting trials of raising her young.
I would love a guest post from you: how did you get where you are as a writing mom? Who came to your aid? Tell me, tell us, about your dream-stones.