Writing From Life, Translating Experience to Poetry…Childbirth and Parenting

As a writers, we share much of ourselves in our work. Much of the time it is rooted in our own personal experiences and in our observations of the experiences of others.   A central part of our identity has been formed by how we have been parented, as well as sometimes about how we have parented, ourselves, or what we have observed of all this in the lives of others.

As a woman, I have written poems about my own interaction with children, about pregnancy, about childbirth.  Whether or not we have children, I think most women share some understanding about its importance, if not to themselves, to others.  There is and has been a lot of idealization and romanticizing about parenting.  Parenting is not easy. Children can bring us joy and pain, frustration and fulfillment. There is a whole spectrum of experience and emotion to parenting. Parenting adult children moves to a whole other world.

Each of us has been a child. Each of us knows how we have been parented, or not.  Many of us have had to struggle with parents, even into adulthood, about establishing our own independence and adult identity. That is a whole different subject, one which has provided endless material for writing.  Each piece we may write is entirely different experience, highly individual.  As parents, as children.

My  daughter is pregnant with her first child.  It is a joyful time to savor, mother with daughter.  It is also, at times, a difficult process to carry a child, with all the changes in our bodies.  Several years ago, I wrote a poem in which I tried to capture the complexities of both the physical process of bearing a child and the reflective emotional responses of  a woman close to childbirth, at the brink of parenting.  It was prompted by a brief encounter with a pregnant young woman that stirred my own memory. In her own private world of contemplation, for a mere moment, I sensed a communication. Woman to woman.  This is one of the most personally meaningful poems I have written.  It is called Telepathy. Here it is.


Transcending years

between our generations,

across a subway aisle

a young girl’s eyes

meet mine.

I know where she is going.

I have been there

long ago.

Despite her swollen breasts,

her straining belly,

she wears a dignity that

she herself can’t see.

Does she know

that her life is

no longer hers

and hers alone?

Both startled,

for a moment

we continue

silent conversation,

until she turns  inward

to listen to

a lullaby that

only she can hear.


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