Motherhood, Filling in the Blanks, Omega Retreat this Fall, & More

Motherhood, Filling in the Blanks, Omega Retreat this Fall, & More 2
Nadia Colburn // May 9, 2024 // 2 Comments

Happy Mother's Day Week!

I've been working slowly on a prose project, and recently, while I was writing a section about becoming a mother and reflecting on the roles mothers play in children's lives and in the world, I realized that Mother's Day was coming up. In this first year of empty nesting, I had almost forgotten. Neither of my kids will be home this weekend—but I'm thrilled that they'll be home next week! 

Since being a mother has been one of the greatest joys in my life, as well as one of the deepest learning experiences, I thought I'd share part of what I wrote with you today.

Whether you're a mother or not, whether you have a good relationship with your own mother(s) or not (my relationship with my mother is very fraught), I hope something in this passage speaks to you. And I hope it inspires you to honor yourself, whatever your role, whatever your story.

I also want to let you know about a few upcoming events I'm doing, including a 5-day in-person LIVE retreat at the beautiful Omega Institute in New York this fall! I haven't offered live, in-person teachings like this since before the pandemic, and this will be an in-depth way to nurture your own writing and spirit. I'll be teaching with my friend, the wonderful poet and teacher Holly Wren Spaulding. This is going to be a really special event, and I would absolutely love to spend time with you in person there! The retreat is called Find Joy Through Writing Poetry, and it's for poets of any level, secret poets, and prose writers who want to wake up to more inspired, visionary writing. 🙂

I hope you'll also join me for these two events next week 🙂

Writing as Practice with Nadia Colburn and Elena Brower
Free, Live Online. Tuesday, May 14th, 1:00-2:30pm EDT
Learn more & Register for FREE here

Featured Reading in Journal of Expressive Writing's Open Mic
Free, Live Online Thursday, May 16, 2024 from 7pm - 8:30pm EDT
Register to attend on Eventbrite here.
Sign up to read your own work in the Open Mic here

And here's the excerpt from my prose project: 

I took the pregnancy test at 5 am in the blue-tiled bathroom of the summer house my in-laws were renting.

Eric and I had stopped using birth control only a few weeks earlier. Could I have gotten pregnant so quickly? And yet, if I weren't pregnant, why was I suddenly tired, and why did my breasts hurt when I went for a run? Everyone told me I couldn't possibly have symptoms so early. But what was I feeling?

I hardly dared hope that I could really be pregnant.

I peed on the little white stick and waited tensely. And then: two pink lines.

Eric and I were too excited to go back to sleep, and that morning, once everyone was up, unable to contain our glee, we told the whole family in the house's kitchen overlooking the bay. My mother-in-law later told me she'd never seen anyone more excited.

But about a week later, once it really sunk in that I was going to have a baby, I thought: Oh my gosh, what have I done? We were back home in our own apartment on Riverside Drive and I was about to start my third year of graduate school. Suddenly, I thought: I’ve missed the chance to have my own story.

I can’t quite describe the feeling of surprise that came over me, of having missed something. It seemed to me that there were no stories of mothers. That mothers were blank.

It was 1999. I was twenty-six and none of my friends had children yet.

Why didn't I think, then, of my own mother? Now, looking back, I can see that my mother, who in some ways was a model for me, was also a mystery. There was so much about her I didn’t know, didn’t understand, and those parts, instead of seeming like depths, felt like reflective surfaces.

I thought of the many books I'd read, not one of which had a mother as the heroine.

I wanted to be the subject of the story. It was a moment in which I realized that, despite all of my living, all of my introspection, there was something that I'd overlooked.

What I saw in that blank, maybe for the first time, was a body. A woman’s body.

Of course, I’d been inside a body my whole life. I loved to dance, to swim, to hike, to make love.

And I’d been sick, which had, of course, been an experience of the body. But when I was sick, in a doctor's office, or at the hospital, I became a specimen, a thing for doctors to examine, to work upon.

Only now, when my body was carrying another life inside itself, did it seem that I hadn't quite gotten to know my own body on its own terms.

So that feeling of having missed something opened a door.

Things have changed a lot in the past 25 years—I can think of many books now with mothers as protagonists, and, of course, there were some earlier books, too, that I just hadn't read. Yet, still, mothers are often elusive.

I invite you to take a moment and reflect on your own image of mothers and also on your experience of yourself. Are there blanks that want to be filled in?

I hope that, whether you are a mother or not, whatever your age or gender, you can fill in your own blank spaces, that you can take some time to see and nurture yourself; be kind and gentle and supportive, in the very best ways, to yourself. And if you feel drawn, thank the people who (if imperfectly) taught you those nurturing qualities.

As always, feel free to post comments or questions below or send me an email at nadia@nadiacolburn.com; I love to hear from you. 

And I'll hope to see you at some of the upcoming events. 🙂

with love,

Nadia

PS: Join me for an Inspiring Writing Retreat at Omega this Fall: Find Joy Through Writing Poetry!

  • Thank you Nadia, I read this amazing piece of writing with light, refreshing tears in my eyes. In the first 7 years of my motherhood, I had been feeling that I lost my role as the heroine in my own story. It took ‘a while’ to embody the mother- the one that I’d like to be and the one that I’d like to have.
    And now I am feeling that I’ve come to a new threshold : – ‘now it’s time- now the new part of the story is beginning. ‘ The heroine is also ready to embody the mother self and take this self with her through the rest of the journey.’ Thank you all the motherhood you gave me through ‘Poetry of Attention’ Journey. I love to see how motherhood is limitless and formless, despite all the effort around to make it fit into definitions. You’re a great example to me! I wish you a lovely weekend with your loved ones.

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