Earlier this week, I hinted at some great news that had come my way. It’s official now, so time to share it with you: I’ve been invited to speak at BlogHer ’13 this year! In Chicago!
Actually, let me clear my throat …
I AM GOING TO BLOGHER, Y’ALL! AS A SPEAKER! IN CHICAGOOOO!
Every time I think about it, I do a little shimmy where I sit or stand and smile like a superstar. I’ve attended BlogHer twice — when it was in NYC — and both times I came away clicking my heels. The panels, the conversations, the connections, the friends (who I finally to met face-to-face), all of it fantastic. And now being invited to sit on a panel and experience this fine, fine gathering from a different angle? We’ve moved past the clicking of heels, man. Time to bust out the Cabbage Patch-Vogue-Robot-Drop It And Twerk move. I mean, what better time for all that glory, right?
My panel is: Writing – Pitch & Publish (Presentation: Turning Blog Posts into Published Essays/ Roundtable: Anatomy of A Story), and I can. not. wait!
Plus, I’ve had Chicago on my “Girl, Hurry Up And Get There Already” list of cities for far too long. There’s specific food with my name on it and fellow blogger-homies there with good times in hand just waiting to be shared.
Speaking of sharing, you can join the fun at BlogHer ’13! Just use promo code BH13SPKR for 20 percent discount on a Blogger Rate Full Conference pass: http://bit.ly/OvCqsL. If you do go, you MUST find me and say hello.
Wait, did you hear that? Awww, yeah … it’s the sweet sounds of a giveaway rolling up!
OK, so there’s a new movie coming out tomorrow called What Maisie Knew starring the fabulous Julianne Moore and dashing Alexander Skarsgard along with Steve Coogan and young Onata Aprile who makes her stellar film debut as “Maisie.” The movie is a “contemporary reimagining” of Henry James’ novel from 1897(!) with the same title. Told from of 6-year-old Maisie perspective, it’s about the fallout from her parents’ divorce and bitter custody battle over her.
Here’s the trailer:
When I first read about this film being made, I thought immediately of Kramer vs. Kramer. That was rough! I first saw that with my father as a child, and by the end of it, we were both practically weeping like babies.
Although What Maisie Knew is at times heartbreaking and difficult to watch, say film reviewers, it’s a captivating look at the price of innocence not lost, but unprotected.
In other words, take your tissues, people!
So, the giveaway … three lucky readers will receive:
- A WHAT MAISIE KNEW poster signed by star and (summertime HBO vampire!) Alexander Skarsgard
- An autographed copy of Julianne Moore’s newest children’s book from her Freckleface Strawberry Series
- WHAT MAISIE KNEW pens from Millennium Entertainment
All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered into the giveaway. What other movies about children caught between bickering parents stuck in your mind, stayed with you like Kramer vs. Kramer did for me? Leave it below and you could be a winner!
I’ve been kind quiet the last few months. Figured I should check in and share a little bit about what’s been going on. Nothing crazy, just focused on writing. I’ve been writing my third novel and pushing hard to finish this month.
It’s real work, writing and telling stories, digging into why we do, who we love, what we want, all while keeping the reader lured into turning the pages. Add juggling motherhood, running a household and working my journo thing to that and you’ve got Life As We Know It staring right in the face.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how motherhood — versions of that first and fundamental relationship — has played out in my fiction writing. My debut novel, Earth’s Waters, is coming-of-age story about a young woman named Lily living in Barbados who is slowly drowning in paradise. She lives with Mother, an exacting old woman who is really her maternal grandmother. (Lily’s true mother ran off and left her when she was baby.) Mother works long days as hawker, selling fruits, vegetables and other goods in an open-air market and shares laughs with everyone except Lily. Instead she offers her only derision and directives. But Lily follows all of her orders, dutifully, trying extra hard to not allow Mother’s contempt for her really sink in.
Basically, that old woman is mean. And without spoiling what happens in the book, I’ll just say that Mother’s prickly edges never really soften. (Here’s an except from the book.)
It was fascinating and heartbreaking to write about this mother-daughter relationship, mainly because I wasn’t drawing on anything personal. I wasn’t even close to being a mother at the time. Thankfully, my relationship with my own mother is a stark opposite to what Lily suffers through.
My Mum is quite remarkable, actually. She’s incredibly loving and warm and endlessly supportive of me. We laugh a lot. We talk a lot. She’s special and spectacular. I guess that’s where the intrigue lies for me as a writer. Trying to walk in the shoes of someone who doesn’t have a mothering mother. It’s like visiting Mars for me. So foreign and strange.
In this latest novel, there’s another rocky mom-daughter relationship, but there’s a solid reason for that fracture.
I just keep coming back to mothers and daughters and the layers of stuff between them. I remember as a teenager, reading about Drew Barrymore’s strained relationship with her mother. It still makes me sad thinking about her and other like her, moving through this life with a living mother with whom they have no relationship (or a contentious one, at best).
Great topic as Mother’s Day draws near, Blades! But it’s been on my mind; thought I’d share.
Anyway, that’s where I am these days: in the woods (literally!) writing away. Of course, you can catch me when I come up for air — and to feed the wild turkeys — on Twitter or on MMM’s FB page. I hope to be finished with the manuscript by month’s end and back to the regularly scheduled programming at MMM … although, I will be working on a book proposal then. Sigh. I’ll be around!
I’ve written here before about friends and parenthood, and how the two interact (and sometimes not). So when a recent survey came out showing how new mothers found it easier to make friends, it made me think back to my own circle of “new mamas.” I wrote about it for xoJane. Here’s the piece in full:
There were 11 of us, each fitting into a unique slot. The Jokey One. The Weepy One. The Neurotic One. The Stylish To No End One. The “I Just Ate My Placenta In Pill Form” One.
I was the Zen Black One, as I was often called (the Zen part; black was a given). We were different in so many ways, but there was a common denominator: We were all mothers to newborns, and we were petrified.
When I joined the new moms group in Brooklyn, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t really care, truth told. After giving birth to an actual human being (by emergency C-section; its own horror movie) in the middle of winter, it was finally spring. With sore everything, vacationing hormones, no sleep, and a serious case of cabin fever, I needed to get some fresh air and see other adult faces, STAT.
We bonded quickly. As in, while walking out of that first meet-up, several of us opted to go for a walk with our mostly snoozy (victory!) babies in strollers and slings. We exchanged phone numbers and emails that day. We scheduled “regular” weekly walks. We hosted play dates (which, at that stage, meant nursing our babies, patting them down for naps and trading whispered “does yours do this” questions).
We arranged to be in the same Mom & Me yoga/movement/sing-a-long classes. We met for lunch and brunch and more walks around the neighborhoods. We were openly stalking each other, and it was OK because we were friends. New Mom Friends — a necessity, much like wide swaddling blankets and good, supportive bras.
It didn’t matter that in our BBL (before baby life), the chances of any of us crossing paths, much more forming friendships, were slim. There’s something about connecting over a shared experience, especially one as overwhelming and momentous as new parenthood, that makes forging friendships seem easier.
A recent study showed that it’s not only your hips that can widen after having a baby (gurrl), but also your social circle. Of the 2,000 women polled, 53 percent said it was “surprisingly easy” to make new friends once they had a baby. According to the research, women make an average of nine new friends when they have a baby. And the new pal pattern continues well into the first year of new mamahood, the survey said. Whereas child-free women typically have 13 friends, the number jumps to 22 once le bébé joins the party.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of having friends-to-the-end types (be it 22 or just two) who would go to war for you, homeys who are there no questions asked or judgments cast, ready to smear on the Vaseline and talking about “somebody hold my earrings.” And when you enter into the motherhood game, with all the self-doubts and guilt and uncertainty bubbling up inside, you need those people in your corner even more.
When I first read this survey, I’ll admit my eyes were slightly angling to the side.
“It’s not like the new mom friends really knew me,” I said, “not like Saada or Nikki or Kisha or Rob.”
They hadn’t seen me at my absolute worst only to champion me to better and back to my best like the true blood Home Team. These just-off-the-bench folks hadn’t grown up with me, weren’t familiar with my history, my narrative, and I didn’t know theirs. So we shared a stance on organic bananas and sleep training. Hardly the stuff of authentic, deep relationships, right?
But I was dead wrong.
With these women, there was more there than a fellowship through a shared experience. There was true kindness, genuine compassion and an investment in each other lives. We rallied, we cautioned, we cared, and many times we stood as the bright light at the end of a crazy-making tunnel, waving each other on: “Keep pressing forward, mama. You’re almost there!”
True, we don’t have the same level of contact now. We moved. Some of them moved too. Life happened. These days I might only chat with a couple moms from the Original 11 once or twice a year, but those friendships remain meaningful. They were real and important and essential.
And because of the time we spent, that first year of new babydom, facing down our fears together, I know without a blink of doubt that if I need to talk about anything, I can turn to one of these now-veteran mamas and she’ll offer the ear, the shoulder, the kindness, or the simple “Me too” to help me find my footing. And you can’t get more ride-or-die than that.
This post originally ran on xoJane.com.
Three years ago today, I hit “publish” on Ms. Mary Mack. I don’t even need to close my eyes to see the moment clearly. I had a 13-month-old baby boy showing me how much I don’t know and pushing me to figure things out using old-fashion, trusted tools like wit, instinct and aplomb. Writing it out was the best way I knew how to move through the monumental transition from “me” to “mom.”
This blog has been my blank page, my ear, my voice, and my shoulder of support as I learned to walk my own way down this parenthood path. Some days it’s a sashay, others, a tip-toe, but forward is they way I’m heading.
I’ve met some incredibly kind, wise, compassionate, and downright beautiful people through this blog. Some I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person, while others have only shared and laughed with me over the internet. Either way, today I’m smarter, happier and better for knowing each one of them. Each one of you.
Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing links, spreading the word, and telling your own stories on Ms. Mary Mack. To say it’s been an adventure is playing it small.
So today seems like a fitting time to announce a slight change in direction, a shift here at MMM. We started this blog to track that transition into being someone’s actual parent, with the hope of gaining insight, information and wisdom, and passing it along.
But we’ve grown up.
My baby is now 4 years old, and I have settled into this integral role of Parent with confidence and compassion. It only makes sense then that the blog grows too, branches out to cover more things, those inspired, inspiring, interesting, hot, and cool things that keep this brain a-poppin’ and keep me grounded in “me.” (I was me before I was mom, right?)
I want to talk about things like writing, books, photography, and culture. Themes like identity, family, reinvention, and creativity — all parts of the platform that I’ve cultivated over the 15-plus years of being a working journalist and writer.
Of course, I’ll still talk parenthood on the blog. That conversation will never really end (a good thing!). And I hope you’ll join me on this new road we’re taking. The sun is shining down that way. That’s always promising.
To celebrate our growth and blogiversary, we’re giving away this adorable DIY herb mini garden kit. Yes, those are actual wine corks being used as plant “pots.” Like I said, the cutest.
To enter MMM’s Third Blogiversary Giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment below. Tell us the biggest lesson you’ve gathered up so far in this parenting game. Tell us the funniest parenting story you can’t wait to embarrass your kid with in about 10 to 15 years. Tell us a “kids be knowing” tale, how them babies continue to make us believe they’ve been on this earth before. Share anything and you’re in the running to win.
Thanks, again, for three years of support and love.