Mother. A small word, packaged in complex and societally significant wrapping. One of those box within a box within a box kind of tangles, with one dictionary definition reading, “an extreme example or very large specimen of something.” Isn’t that the truth? Bad mother, good mother, stern mother, dead mother, not a mother, never a mother, a mother on a sailboat in a stormy sea because she needs to be something more than a mother. The fluidity of the concept, and the potential for rapid change in definition, is infinite. When we face those changes, whether in ourselves or in those we see as our own mothers, the waves of being kick us in the back of our knees, sending us off balance and searching for the right thing to do with our faces and our hands and our understandings of who we are versus who we thought we’d be.
In the Spring 2018 prose collection, our VoiceCatcher women brace their bodies beneath this concept of motherhood. A girl barely a woman intently unravels her burgeoning transformation in “Rabbit Test.” In “What Our Bodies Were Then,” two women try to become more than wives or mothers as they take and retake agency over their bodies. A child learns not to deny her own senses in “Rotten Eggs” while navigating a tense relationship with her mother, who struggles to fill the roles of both mother and absent father. In “On Becoming a Real Sailor,” a mother sails into her authority as a woman on the rough and tumble waters of men who would be captains. A woman charts her journey from motherless child to childless mother, intent on changing the legacy of her mother in “Strata of Motherhood.” And finally, in “Witnessing Carmel,” a woman navigates the spirit world on a quest to process the effect of her mother’s death.
There is more to being a woman than motherhood. More to motherhood than bearing a child. The journey of becoming a woman needs a strong foundation of the collective voices of all women who traverse stormy seas and are battered by hurricane winds that threaten to drown them. These are women who have learned to trust their inner voice and harmonize with their outer world without losing their individuality.
We hope you enjoy the journeys of our talented writers as they share their fears and failings that opened the boxes of tangles that became their ultimate strength.