We know what motherhood is supposed to look like: fulfillment without sacrifice. Decades of family sitcoms and dramas have disseminated the patriarchal view that motherhood is supposed to be enjoyable and uncomplicated. Even single mothers, on-screen, somehow manage to get enough sleep, have careers, find exciting romances, and form new friendships. And, they do all this in stain-free designer clothes.
The myth destroyed me, and it oppresses many of us. I thought I’d be having brunch with an infant—I thought I’d be eating coddled eggs and French toast while she slept and cooed, but what happened was that I suffered severe postpartum depression and eating became impossible. I was married while pregnant, and thought I’d be part of a heteronormative parenting team. That didn’t happen, either. And who knew being a mom would mean constantly revisiting my own childhood? Through all this, I felt an overwhelming loneliness—this wasn’t the “normal” experience of motherhood that I’d been promised.
It’s time to break down these myths, people. It’s time to complicate the portrayal of mothers. As with painting, mothering outside the margins isn’t always understood—but it is complicated, inventive, expansive, inclusive, and true.
It’s time to tell the truth and all of the experiences outside the margins. This May, The Rumpus will be exploring the theme of “Mothering outside the Margins,” and we want your real-life, in the trenches essays about everything we never talk about when we talk about mothers. What do the words “mother” and “mothering” mean to you? How do you want to push and stretch the definitions of those words? This isn’t a call for smug advice. This is a call for burn-it-all-down, hands-covered-in-shit-and-piss-and-vomit (because yes, you caught that vomit in your hands) stories that only you can tell. Abortions, miscarriages, choosing to become a mom, choosing not to become a mom, the ways you were and weren’t mothered, blended families, co-parenting, LGBTQ mothers, adoptions, and single moms—we want it all. Everything you don’t see on-screen but do see in the mirror.
Word count between 1500-4000. Email completed submissions as Word doc attachments to [email protected] (pitches will not be considered). We are not accepting unsolicited fiction or poetry. Submissions close Monday, March 5.