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Countdown to Mother's Day: The M Word

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. To help celebrate, we’re looking at some of our favourite excerpts from Goose Lane titles that are all about moms and we’re offering 20% off our special mom-themed collection with discount code MOM20.

Don’t forget, we’re offering free shipping on orders over $25 in Canada until the end of June!

Today, we’re looking at Kerry Clare’s The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood, a book which may or may not have something to do with mothers . . . (Spoiler: it has everything to do with mothers!)

This excerpt comes from the book’s foreword, which is titled ‘The Motherhood Conversation (or “Life With a Uterus”)’.


As my baby grew and we settled into life together, my preoccupation with motherhood waned and I started having different conversations. Many of my friends were having babies, too, but others had had miscarriages, were dealing with infertility, were ambivalent about the prospect of motherhood, or had decided against having kids altogether. Other friends were talking about single-parenthood, adoption, step-parenting, and IVF costs, and it began to occur to me that in our most earnest and essential conversations about motherhood, many of us had been missing huge parts of the story.

We were missing it partly because these other experiences involved ideas that people still have a hard time discussing. But we were also missing it due to a presumed gulf between women with children and those without them, one that is usually presented as unbridgeable.

There is among mothers a reflexive tendency to close ranks, which goes a long way toward shutting up blowhards, idiots, baby whisperers seizing on our desperation, and any male doctor-turned-author with bad advice about how one should care for her child. Mothers also continue to be maligned (check out the comments on any online article about big strollers or public breast-feeding to see what I mean), even as they’re being sanctified in theory by our mother-obsessed society, and the contradiction is confusing, bolstering mothers’ defences. And this is where the exclusivity comes in, enhancing the motherhood conversation not a bit, creating a sense of apartness that leaves so many other women feeling their experiences are outside of the ordinary and, for some, that they are, perhaps impossibly, alone.

Though they aren’t. Not least of all because even women with more straightforward relationships to maternity can feel alienated by motherhood, particularly under the influence of those aforementioned clichéd headlines. There isn’t a mother alive who hasn’t thought of herself as stationed far outside maternity’s central zone, that place we all imagine, where all the babies are cooing, the bananas are never bruised, and every woman is comfortable enough in her own skin to disregard magazine covers’ blaring provocations: Are You Mom Enough?

In fact, it seems that outside the zone are most of us, those whose relationships to motherhood are complicated — we’ve lost children, we never had the ones we longed for, the children we have are not biologically ours. We are the women who’ve had too many children or not enough, or we didn’t have them properly. Women for whom motherhood is a fork in the road, encountered with decidedly mixed feelings. There are those of us who made the conscious choice not to have children and yet find ourselves defined by what we’re lacking instead of the richness of our lives.

Motherhood: the M Word. It means something different to all of us, and exactly what it means is rarely simple.


The M Word is a fabulous collection edited 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.

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 MailCanadian Notes & QueriesPrairie FireQuill & QuireToday's Parent, and other fine places. She writes about books and reading at her blog Pickle Me This and is editor at 49thShelf.com. Her essay "Love is a Let-Down" was nominated for a 2011 National Magazine Award and appeared in Best Canadian Essays 2011.

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