Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood

Jill Boettger

When my mother-in-law gave me a copy of Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood, edited by Shannon Cowan, Fiona Tinwei Lam and Cathy Stonehouse (McGill-Queen’s University Press), I was touched by her gesture in support of my writer-self and pleased to discover, when I opened the book, a sense of camaraderie with the women in the essays. Their stories reminded me that, as Stephanie Bolster says in her essay, “Transformations,” “what is most worthwhile is rarely easy.” These women write about mopping up baby puke while conducting an interview, editing a book of poetry while a forgotten breast pump melts to a black lump on the stove, and forsaking writing for sleep, sleep for writing, both for mothering. Their voices are honest, humble and comforting for those who sometimes feel alone in a society that doesn’t always support parenting or artistic pursuits. The image on the cover shows a luxurious red couch and toys strewn about the floor. A pad of paper and a pen perch on the couch cushions. Close up, it appears that paper and pen have been photoshopped onto the couch; this strikes me as an apt, if unintentional, metaphor. As I’ve discovered this last year, the opportunity to write does not arise organically out of family life: it must be imposed.

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Jill Boettger

Jill Boettger writes poetry and nonfiction from her home in Calgary, where she lives with her husband and two kids. She teaches in the Department of English, Languages and Cultures at Mount Royal University and is a frequent contributor to Geist.


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