This quarantine anthology brings us the experiences of a number of literary voices as they reveal to us the things that moms, and parents, don’t have time for. Drawing connections between the pandemic and our lives as mothers and families, binding us all together.
The pandemic has upended all our lives. As we all struggle to make sense of what is happening, we turn to one another to share the best of what this pandemic has taught us. These writers, from diverse genres, experiences and backgrounds, have let us peek into their lives to see their inspirations, their voices laced with insight, humour and sensitivity. They tell us what they are doing to cope and keep themselves sane.
As essays, they aren’t all phenomenal, but they bear witness to the time and the challenges it has thrown upon us. And they remind us that everyone has something compelling to say. All have something significant to say about things they have learned while parenting during the pandemic. Some of the authors have given me book recommendations – some for reading, some for re-reading. Some of those recommendations include Dead Man Walking by Sr Helen Prejean, Essential Wisdom For Getting Through A Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh, and books by Margaret Atwood.
The book emerged from Zibby Owens’ podcast, Moms don’t have time to read books, which took on a life of its own. The book has 58 essays by 54 writers, all divided into sections listing the things that moms don’t have time to do, namely, Read, Work out, Eat, Have Sex and Breathe. All the things that we once took for granted that the mere act of having kids put out of our reach. The Breathe section includes the general stuff of life, the miscellaneous bits.
The ones that stood out for me were Dystopian Fiction Is Made for This Moment by Reema Zaman as also What My Father Taught Me by Elliot Ackerman. I loved Reema’s quote, “The lens of storytelling is like sunglasses. Without story, my eyes burn from the glare of the world.”
It Was Never About the Dough by Sonali Dev was the one that hit the right notes for me from a cultural standpoint.
Phyllis Grant’s In Provence, Soothed by Goat Yogurt, had not one familiar ingredient or food, yet it felt soothing to read all the same.
Lessons from my Origami Failures by Nicole C Kear was an essay that might have been my story. Like the writer, I don’t have a crafty bone in my body.
The ones that touched me were Suzanne Falter’s After My Daughter Died, My Son Took Up Rock Climbing. When life shakes you to the core and you’re reduced to rubble, the things you value most become abundantly clear. Suddenly there is no holding back from what you love, just as there is no more wasting time on things that hardly matter. Life gets pulled into a shift clear order that you can’t un-see.
Lauren Braun Costello’s There Are No Plans To Make, So Why Not Plan Meals tells us We are now living in uncharted territory, collectively in isolation from one another yet miraculously connected through technology.
These Days, I’m Running to Stay Sane by Sara Shepherd was an essay that echoed many of my own sentiments. Only in my case, it is reading and praying that help me to stay sane.
In Japan, A Mother And Son Find New Balance by Janice Kaplan, says, You never stop being a parent, but the trick is to know when your child has stopped being a child.
The book ends with short accounts of authors, all of them parents with children, describing their home writing setup in the pandemic.
(I read this book through NetGalley. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley)