Archive for the ‘mothers’ Tag

Everyday Poets 2011   Leave a comment

 

Child 1

Children, flexible in all kinds of ways!  (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

 

As anyone who has read my latest book, Melons and Memory will tell you, my role as a mother is at the very center of my being. More than my roles as a poet, librarian, sister, daughter, wife or friend, I am identified by others as being the mother of my daughter and two sons. The first thought on waking and the last fading off to sleep is how can I improve the lives of my children every day. It’s led to some easy decisions, and to others that were not so easy.

 

 

 

One of those tough decisions was made after my daughter was born. I had suffered from HELPP syndrome, and had had to have an emergency c section as my liver and kidneys began to shut down. She was fine, the healthiest and heaviest of the three, but in the process of giving her life, I almost lost mine. At that point I made the painful decision to have a tubal ligation. While I was still pretty young, I had had three children, I had my girl. The potential for more children was too great a risk to the well being of the children I already had.

 

 

 

Three years later, it’s a decision I’m comfortable with. I see my friends in their pregnancies, hold their infants, and that desire to have another one is no longer there. But in the beginning, it was very difficult to wrap my head around such a permanent decision. So, as I do with all the bumps in my road, I ironed it out with writing.

 

 

 

The poem, “Closing Down the Baby Factory”, was so good, Everyday Poets published it last year, and I’m so glad they did. While the beauty and joys of motherhood are so prevalent in poetry as to almost be cliché, the topic of choosing to let motherhood go rarely gets the airplay it deserves, in poetry or the mainstream media. It’s important that every woman can find herself somewhere in the arts. One of the goals I’ve set for myself in my writing career is to give them that through my own experiences, no matter how sensitive or graphic it might be.

 

The Shine Journal   Leave a comment

Baby eating baby food (blended green beans)

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.theshinejournal.com/petersonhelen.htm

The Shine Journal published a story of mine last month called “Baby Love“. The story is based upon experiences I’ve had with all three of my children, but was written when all I had was my oldest, who is now 12. As a baby, wherever we went people would be offering him gum, candy, stopping us in the middle of the supermarket to goo-goo at him. What was funny was usually the offered treat was completely inappropriate for an infant without a single tooth.

Because this was my reality for so long, grocery shopping trips that would take me five minutes alone taking 30 minutes or more, I had to write about it. I did. however, give it a little twist, thinking about how the adult behind the baby might benefit from all the attention given their little one, and how someone NOT used to having a baby would handle it when an infant is thrust upon them for whatever reason.

What is your reality today? What occurs in your day to day life that is mundane to you, but could be interesting to someone who lives a different kind of life. Switch places with them, use your imagination and write it out.

The View From Here   Leave a comment

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Issue/78743

In May, in honor of Mother’s Day, The View From Here published my poem The Problem With Mother’s Day. Most of my poems on motherhood have a positive slant to them, this one not so much. There is dark humor here in this  little poem, because a lot of people, especially those that do not have children, idealize motherhood and paint a picture that mothers can do no wrong. Then, when some mother does something truly horrific, it’s plastered all over the news, talking heads decrying the tarnishing of the sanctity of Mother. For a mom who is not going to murder her children or sell them into white slavery, but does have her moments where the makeup isn’t pristine, the children aren’t angels on the playground, and dinner is leftover meatloaf, this idea that anything less than the Perfect Mommy is a sin is an uncomfortable one. So, I wrote a little poem about it, and the folks at The View From Here must have a mother or two amongst them, because they accepted it and published it.

Have some dark days? Not living up to the ideals others plaster all over you? Write about it this weekend, get it off your chest.

Literary Tonic   Leave a comment

http://literarytonic.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/poetry-by-helen-r-peterson/

In April the online zine Literary Tonic, published right here on WordPress, posted my poem “My Soul Pours Out Like Water”. The poem’s title comes from Lamentations 2:19:

Arise , cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.

And OK, Jeremiah said heart, but whatever was going through my head that night, I read it as soul.

I’ve written quite a lot about my experiences as a mother, some might even call it my theme, my niche. However, historically I don’t tend to write a lot while pregnant. I guess I have other things on my mind at the time.  My third and last pregnancy was an exception, as I was in pain most of the time, and writing through it became my only reliable release.  Stuck in bed,  rolled up on your side, all you can do is read and write and try to keep your lunch off your belly. So I read the Bible in between the stacks of library books and gleaned from its pages verses, phrases, a word here and there that spoke to me in some way. Later, after nearly succumbing to Helpp syndrome, I was able to go over my notes and fit my own words around those of the prophets and apostles. The poem Literary Tonic chose to publish is an example of the fruit of my literary labor. Enjoy.

Shine Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.theshinejournal.com/petersonhelenr.htm

The past week has been a long one for me, going back to work, sending two of three kids off to school. One thing that has suffered is the blog here, and I apologize if you’ve missed me the past couple of days. I promise to catch up.

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks, and in honor of that day,  I’ve posted my one and only 9/11 poem, published last year in The Shine Journal.  Unlike many other writers, it took me four years to write on the subject. On September 11, 2001, I listened to the first reports on NPR as I took my son to preschool, thinking that it had just been a small plane, mildly concerned. I should add that we didn’t have a tv at that time, no internet, no cell phone. It wasn’t until I got to work and saw my coworkers circling a monitor in the back, shell shocked, anxious. It wasn’t until my son’s preschool, state run, called and said I needed to pick him up, that the governor was closing all state buildings. It wasn’t until I went home and stared up at a sky free of jet trails that it hit me what we were dealing with. At that point the threads that connected the events to me were either too thin or rock solid to write about. It was only when my son, now seven years old, was baptized on the fourth anniversary of the attacks that I could find a way in to the emotions I felt that day in a way that I hoped made sense to the rest of the world, and approached the topic in a new and interesting way.

This year I sent another child to preschool for the first time. I am more connected to the world than I ever thought possible, for better or for worse. I look at the world, at the mess we’ve made of things, the hope of a more united country and world fizzling as we split hairs over what we call a community center. It makes me want to write another poem, only I can’t find a way in…yet…

Maybe you can. Give it a try, what has changed for you in the past nine years? How do world events connect you to the world around you? Find an in, write it out, and feel free to post it here.

Wilderness House Literary Review   Leave a comment

http://www.whlreview.com/no-5.2/poetry/HelenPeterson.pdf

Wilderness House, which has published me twice now, is the feature today. These two poems, “Mother Cynic” and “Making Aunt Gracie’s Potato Salad”  both explore family in unique ways. Yesterday’s poem, “To the Mother of all Mothers”, took on a humorous view of motherhood, “Mother Cynic” as its name implies takes a darker view. Perfect for today, as my oldest got on the bus this morning for a new school, and did NOT want me to come to the bus stop with him. (He’s in 7th grade now, so I get it, but still…) fortunately, next week, my second will start preschool, and will definitely want me there so it covers the hole left by the tween. And it’s the up and down, the balancing act that is motherhood, that “Mother Cynic” is framed around.

The second poem, “Making Aunt Gracie’s Potato Salad”, is a poem written as a recipe, mapping the life of “Aunt Gracie”. The name came not from an aunt, but from my great-grandmother, Granny Gracie, who made biscuits, not potato salad. I just happened to be making potato salad that day, so it was a mix of the true and the not quite true. Emily Dickinson once said “tell the tale, but tell it slant.”, and that’s just what I did.

Food and family make great inspirations. Today, write about the food that means family to you, and share a slice here.