Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Academic Oversight

Believe me when I say that I know as well as most, if not better, that motherhood can be dull, tedious, repetitive, draining, and insular. That despite all of that, it is also fascinating, deeply meaningful, educational, and fun, is nothing short of miracle. How many things can you think of that would fall into both of those camps? Filing? Boring, not ever deeply meaningful. Teaching? Deeply meaningful not really insular. Slaying dragons? Repetitive maybe but never dull.

If you're waiting for a point, I have one.

My Alma mater, a prestigious woman's college (you won't have to search far to know which one), has not gone to the trouble of including me in their "recently published" list in their alum magazine. Of course, I am told that my itsy-bitsy three line listing could not make it in due to space. That may be true.

Or it may not be. Correct me if I'm wrong, but generally, no one takes chick lit seriously. (A serous mistake.) And funny, fast fiction about motherhood? Well, why would they write on that when they've got half of their graduates saving orphans and stopping wars. Giving a new mother a few hours of hilarious pleasure and a reason to get through her day without throwing her infant into the dishwasher? Who has space for that?

Seriously, I'm angry, but in a really happy sort of way. (Yes, it's possible.) Because I feel like the truth that gets revealed in their "oversight" or general neglect of my publication fortifies my purpose. Did I write a novel for the academics to ponder? For the award committees to select? Or did I write a novel for the mothers, to reflect their experience, with honesty and humor, because humor is nothing short of salvation when you're working on no sleep. Never mind wars in other countries, I'm hoping for peace in the homeland.

It does bother me. And it bothers me that only few in the "press" have got my little book. The reviewer I feel who got it most? A Man. In this interview, he gathered together the whole of my work in the world, as a minister, a mother, a yoga teacher, and a novelist. Why does a minister start her novel with an in-depth investigation of the post-partum vagina? Why does a feminist write about staying-home?

Whether they like it or not (that school of mine), the reality in my book is one that most mothers have lived. In the acute, intense, and nothing-else-like-it period after the birth of the first child, nothing tethers you to the ground, not your degree in ancient history, not your Prada handbag, not your working spouse, not your working self. Is this a reality anybody takes seriously for its profoundly transformative powers?

I, for one, do.

And since when does being funny mean you can't make a point? It may be the only time we get a point, when we're laughing with recognition.

So please, though we are the silent, boring, and tedious majority, put a mother on the cover of your alum magazine. Someone out there will be interested.


  1. Wow. That was ballsy of them, given that you live practically next door. I say, do a drop-in at the President's next soiree, small children and multiple copies in hand. Drop all of those with the first person who opens the door, grab a glass of wine, and start shmoozing the Pres.

    "What, my children? Oh, I'm sure watching them can't be any trouble at all, not for such capable women as you all..."

  2. How did you get to be so funny? Oh, right, you went to a co-ed college ;-)

    And is anyone else listening? Has this happened to YOU?

  3. That's a load of bullshit! I'd be pissed. Getting a book published is a huge deal!! Shame on them for being snobby.

  4. You know what? I don't think it is a big deal to them. And they should know better about the untapped mines of mother-experience.