Perspectives on Motherhood: Change, Love, and Loss

Sketch by Doodlemum.

In this collection, read perspectives on motherhood from writers and artists, from a mother-to-be’s ruminations on gestation and time, to a father’s thoughts on his wife after the birth and death of their son, and more.


“A Wilderness of Waiting,” Sarah Menkedick

At Vela, Sarah Menkedick weaves a gorgeous essay on pregnancy and waiting.

Before gestation, I dominated time in the way I dominated my body. Long runs whittled the latter into sculpted hardness, and the discipline of schedules and fixed points — Saturday, summer, graduation — brought the former into focus as a series of arrows pointing always one towards the next. Time as trajectory, body as tool of the mind. And then this baby began growing and my body expanded into a force to which the “me” of my mind was subjugated, bobbing about unsteady and insignificant as a paper boat in surges of blood and hormones. Time yawned open, a vast canyon I fell into, with the erstwhile tidy arrows echoing off the walls.

“The Rise of ‘Mama,’” Elissa Strauss

In another recommended longread, “Violet,” Adele Oliveira tells the story of becoming a mother in the face of uncertainty.

On the Longreads blog, Elissa Strauss explores how the use of “mama” has helped to rebrand motherhood for the modern mother.

Overall, it’s the way in which “mama” has widened the horizons of “mother,” without giving up on a mother identity altogether, that is the key to its appeal. Women still want to be moms, still want to talk about being moms, but they need a new context.


From "Motherhood's Fantasies," Marge Malo, Marging From Chicago
From “Motherhood’s Fantasies” by Marge Malo at Marging From Chicago.

“World’s Best Mom,” Matt Wessel

Matt and Katie’s son, Randol Thomas, died several hours after he was born. At Alive in You, Matt explains why Katie deserves to be crowned the world’s best mom.

Our son took his last attempted breath during the baptism and his heart stopped beating just seconds after it had ended. It was the perfect ending to his perfect life, and all because of Katie. Because when you’re the world’s best mom, you remember things that no one else does, even in moments of pure chaos.

“Musical Breadcrumbs,” Deborah Bryan

In this poem at The Monster in Your Closet, Deborah Bryan explores the power of music and sharing memories across a family’s generations:

i want
to play music
for my sons, with
my sons, because it
is sweet at the moment,
and because the sweetness
of those moments will
someday be their
trail of crumbs
back to me


"Attachment" sketch by Doodlemum
“Attachment” sketch by Doodlemum.

“On Motherhood and Losing Myself,” Anne Thériault

In May 2015, Anne penned “Mother’s Day,” a post for her mother — as well as other mothers out there.

Anne Thériault at The Belle Jar reflects on becoming a parent and losing a part of herself:

Another layer to my unease lay in the fact that if I felt like I’d lost some part of identity, then had my mother experienced the same thing when she’d given birth to me? It seemed impossible that she had ever been anything other than what she was, namely my mother; and yet that selfish feeling of impossibility was almost certainly evidence of the part that I had played in who she had become. For a long time I’d thought that I would never grow up to be my mother, because my mother’s life had always seemed so constrained and limited. Now I saw that I was the one who had limited it.

“At the Blue Dolphin: On Mothers and Sons,” Rachel Basch

In this essay at The Millions, a mother meets her twenty-something son, Nathaniel, before he takes the train back into the city:

I am watching him as if I were watching a film, a young man on a cold, rainy night all alone on a train platform. What do I think will be revealed to me? I know what I want, some proof that what we experienced together mattered, that it had, has, value, that my love for him, for life, is not unrequited. I want to know that I was able to do it, that I succeeded at the thing I feared I could not do, that I have loved him enough for him to know it.


"Catching the Sunrise," a prenatal yoga pose sketch from Alison Lee Chapman.
“Catching the Sunrise,” a prenatal yoga pose sketch from Alison Lee Chapman.

“You ARE Beautiful — In Which I Am Afraid for Your Future,” Alyssa Moore

At dearlilyjune, Alyssa Moore writes to her daughter Lily. In this letter, she describes a childhood of bullying:

I know that soon you’ll be one, and from there, one will be five, and then, you ride a bus away from my loving embrace and into popularity’s cannibalistic jungle sometimes referred to as school. And Lily, I am terrified.

“Reclaiming All My Pieces, Motherhood Included,” Lisa Sadikman

Lisa Sadikman, the mother of three and writer at Flingo, embraces motherhood after trying to find her way out:

Motherhood shattered me. I know this sounds violent and in some ways it is, especially in the first few weeks and months, even years. It is a realignment, sometimes so sudden and drastic that it feels more of a loss than a gain. In other ways it is a slow breaking down of ambition and perspective, of ferocity and priority. At times I have felt so lost, so unfamiliar to myself. Then there are moments when I am so entirely present in the light of my children, in the comforting weight of motherhood, of knowing.


From The Penny Parade's "Hey Mama" series.
From The Penny Parade‘s “Hey Mama” series.

“I Am Not Your Monkey: On Motherhood, Art, and Presumptuous Bullshit,” Natalia Antonova

Natalia Antonova writes about being pigeonholed and forced to validate other people’s choices:

On a personal note, I find the statement “I assume you’d be able to do so much more with your life if you weren’t a mother” insulting, because it was motherhood that both toughened me up and made me want to do more with my life.

“What I Do All Day When I Am Home With the Baby,” The Ugly Volvo

The writer and comedian at The Ugly Volvo offers a fairly accurate description of most of the things she does on any given day. Timestamps included.

9:35 Lie on floor as baby crawls over my inert body. Absentmindedly wonder if there is more to it than this — if maybe other people have some sort of routine that seems less stupid and boring and pointless. Wonder if there is some big thing I should be doing to help the baby’s development that I am not doing.

9:40 Sit on the floor and clap, hoping to teach baby to clap. Baby will not clap. Go online and Google, “How old babies start clapping?” and read article saying they start to do this more between 9 and 12 months. (Baby is 11 months old)

9:43 Spend the next few minutes going, “Well sh*t, maybe there’s something wrong with the baby. He should be clapping more.”


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