The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood

The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood


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A CNQ Editors' Book of the Year

A Dropped Threads-style anthology, assembling original and inspiring works by some of Canada's best younger female writers — such as Heather Birrell, Saleema Nawaz, Susan Olding, Diana Fitzgerald Bryden, Carrie Snyder, and Alison Pick — The M Word asks everyday women and writers, some of whom are on the unconventional side of motherhood, to share their emotions and tales of maternity.

Whether they are stepmothers or mothers who have experienced abortion, infertility, adoption, or struggles with having more or less children, all these writers are women who have faced down motherhood on the other side of the white picket fence. It is time that motherhood opened its gates to include everyone, not just the picture postcard stories.

The M Word is a fabulous collection by a talented author and blogger, which is bound to attract readers from all walks of motherhood. The anthology that presents women's lives as they are really lived, probing the intractable connections between motherhood and womanhood with all necessary complexity and contradiction laid out in a glorious tangle.

It is a book whose contents themselves are in disagreement, essays rubbing up against one another in uncomfortable ways. There is no synthesis — is motherhood an expansive enterprise, or is motherhood a trap? — except perhaps a general sense that being a mother and not being a mother are each as terrible and wonderful as being alive is. What these essays do show, however, is that in this age of supposed reproductive choice, so many women still don't have the luxury of choosing their mothering story or how it will play out. And those who do exercise choice often still end up contending with judgement or backlash.

The essays also make clear that women are not as divided between the mothers and the childless as we might be led to believe. Women's lives are so much more complicated than that. There is mutual ground between the woman who decided to have no more children and the woman who decided to have none at all. A woman with no children also endures a similar kind of scrutiny as the woman who's had many, both of them operating outside of societal norms. A woman who has miscarried longs to be acknowledged for her own beyond-visible mothering experiences, for the baby she held inside her. And while infertility is its own kind of journey, that journey is also just one of so many whose origins lie with the desire for a child.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780864924872
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions
Publication date: 04/15/2014
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Kerry Clare reads and writes in Toronto, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her essays, short stories, and book reviews have appeared in the New Quarterly, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, Canadian Notes & Queries, Prairie Fire, Quill & Quire, Today's Parent, and other fine places. She writes about books and reading at her blog Pickle Me This and is editor at Her essay "Love is a Let-Down" was nominated for a 2011 National Magazine Award and appeared in Best Canadian Essays 2011.

Table of Contents

Foreword: The Motherhood Conversation (or "Life With a Uterus") 9

Truth, Dare, Double Dare Heather Birrell 15

Twin Selves Julie Booker 25

Dog Days Diana Fitzgerald Bryden 35

Doubleness Clarifies Kerry Clare 45

Unwed, Not Dead Myrl Coulter 55

These Are My Children Christa Couture 73

I Taught My Kids to Talk Nancy Jo Cullen 85

What Can't Be Packed Away Marita Dachsel 95

Babies in a Dangerous Time: On Choosing to be Child-Free Nicole Dixon 105

Primipara Ariel Gordon 115

A Natural Woman Amy Lavender Harris 125

The Best Interests of the Child Fiona Tinwei Lam 135

The Girl on the Subway Deanna McFadden 149

Junior Maria Meindl 161

Bananagrams Saleema Nawaz 177

Wicked Susan Olding 191

Robin Alison Pick 205

The Post-Maia World Heidi Reimer 221

Confessions of a Dilly-Dallying Shilly-Shallier Kerry Ryan 235

How to Fall Carrie Snyder 247

You Make 'Em, I Amuse 'Em Patricia Storms 257

Mommy Wrote a Book of All My Secrets Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang 259

Footnote to the Poem "Now That All My Friends Are Having Babies: A Thirties Lament" Priscila Uppal 267

Leaving the Eighteenth Floor Julia Zarankin 281

Afterword: Grandmothering Michele Landsberg 293

Notes 301

Acknowledgements 307

Contributors 309

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Books on motherhood make me wary — the doctrines, the camps, the divisions! But The M Word is different. It invites you in, insists that you listen, and provokes you to speak out and speak up. A lively, provocative, engaging, and moving conversation with those committed to mothering, those committed to not mothering, those conflicted by mothering, and those who wonder what mothering means, anyway. In other words, all of us." — Miranda Hill, author of Sleeping Funny

"Two years ago I was catapulted into motherhood. I thought I had some sense of what lay ahead — I didn't. I wish I had The M Word then and am so glad to read it now. Wickedly smart, anti-conformist, funny, and moving, these essays ask the big questions about how we see and define ourselves as mothers." — Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes

"The M Word offers an intelligent conversation about motherhood, providing a variety of perspectives on what it means to become a mother (or not). The book is honest and inclusive. Every woman will find her experience reflected somewhere in these stories." — Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books"This is a powerful collection of stories by Canadian women of various ages, and every woman will benefit from reading it." — Cara Smusiak, Quill & Quire

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