My First Year as a Mother, I Only Read Women Authors. Here’s What I Learned.

When I was six months pregnant, I moved across the world, and I found myself thinking a lot about containers. First, in order to move I had to put everything I owned, including books, into containers. Then those containers had to be loaded into a shipping container that went across the Atlantic. My old life had to be folded and put away in the trunks of memory as I said goodbye to friends, quit a job I was sorry to leave, broke the lease on my one-bedroom apartment, and signed the paperwork for my spousal visa. And in the third trimester, it had become more and more obvious that my body was itself a container—one that was struggling to contain a writhing, wriggling being.

IMAGE: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The boxes carrying my things arrived at my new home a few weeks before my due date, and I put my books back on the shelf, not knowing how to organize them. When would I get to read again? As I waited for contractions to start, I read as fast as I could, soaking up the alone time. But it turned out having a baby didn’t mean I couldn’t find time to read. It just meant reading was different. I read on my Kindle app on my iPhone as the baby nursed. I spent long, lonely maternity leave days browsing the shelves at the local library, and then I read my picks while the baby napped.

But what should I read, now that I inhabited this strange, new life? The world was no longer defined by containers—I was outside of all the boxes now, wandering around in a cold new world and watching over a vulnerable, needy being who didn’t know or care what I was thinking about.

I decided to take on a year-long experiment of reading only women authors. My energy to read—and especially to be an engaged, opinionated reader—was dwindling. I wanted to find inspiration and understanding in the voices of other women. It was reductive, I knew, to imagine other women were the solution, but at the same time I craved reductive thinking. I just wanted things to be simple, and to work.

Early in the year, I found a book that let me look inside another new mother’s postpartum mind, and I recognized my own warped perceptions. The book was Little Labors by Rivka Galchen. “She had appeared as an animal,” Galchen writes about her newborn daughter. “A previously undiscovered old-world monkey, but one with whom I could communicate deeply: it was an unsettling, intoxicating, against-nature feeling. A feeling that felt like black magic. We were rarely apart.” Galchen’s book is in fragments, in dream-like observations and factually-presented metaphors that echoed my own disordered internal world. Suddenly, I felt like I was in a container again—a box labeled “Mothers like Rivka Galchen.” I was sure my experiment was working.

Link to the rest at The Millions

Here’s another PG experiment with a new (at least to him) WordPress block.

The two images and the text included with them are called a Media and Text block. PG likes the look and thinks it’s better than putting a big cover photo at the end of the post per one of Amazon Associates SiteStrip embeds.

Feel free to share your responses to intermingled media and images in posts. After viewing other websites that include visual media along with stories/articles, he was concerned that TPV was a little visually boring.

The downside to more image/text combos is that PG tends to wander off into OCD voyages to locate the perfect public domain/royalty-free image, so if he continues to use Media and Text blocks, he’ll do so on an intermittent basis. PG is inclined to match image sizes to text sizes a bit better if he continues to use this particular block (there goes that OCD again), so tweaking the size is likely to be an additional step.

6 thoughts on “My First Year as a Mother, I Only Read Women Authors. Here’s What I Learned.”

  1. PG, I do not judge a website by the excitement of its appearance, but by the quality of its content. I think that I have been bored by maybe as many as three posts over the several years I’ve been coming here.

    On the other hand, I do realize that the OCD monster does have to be fed every so often before it gets into places that it should not be. While you are at it, though, PLEASE fix the “Help Suport Support The Passive Voice at No Cost” header – that gets my OCD going every time…

    • Embarrassed by the typo, WO. Thanks for pointing it out.

      I wish I could focus my OCD tendencies in a direction I selected, but they have a mind of their own. (Or perhaps they simply hijack my mind and all its activities, fortunately ignoring the autonomic.)

      • Let it be noted that it was the only one I have ever noticed on your site, PG. (Other than the many that show up in the snippets – but it is not your job to [sic] other’s egregious errors.)

        Which leads to a reference to the current lead post – why would anyone entrust proofreading, or any other editorial task for that matter, to the cohorts of an organization that cannot remember so far back as four years ago?

  2. Always love more images (where appropriate). But your captioning is a little off (see top image). If you can’t anchor it under the image, here’s a quick fix: just add the words “Image:” or similar in front of the caption.

    • Too much of a hurry, Harald. The WP block didn’t want me to do it, but I’ll figure out a way to make it happen.

Comments are closed.