Pub date: April 15, 2014
Rights: World English
A CNQ Editors' Book of the Year
There isn’t a mother who hasn’t thought of herself as stationed far outside maternity’s central zone — that imaginary place where all the babies are cooing, bananas are never bruised, and every woman is comfortable enough in her own skin to disregard a magazine’s blaring provocation: Are You Mom Enough?
In this original and sometimes provocative collection of essays, Saleema Nawaz, Alison Pick, Nancy Jo Cullen, Carrie Snyder, and many others explore the boundaries of contemporary motherhood. There are the women who have had too many children or not enough. There are women for whom motherhood is a fork in the road, encountered with contradictory emotions. And there are those who have made the conscious choice not to have children and then find themselves defined by that decision.
Here some of Canada’s best writers face down motherhood from the other side of the picket fence. The M Word. It means something to every woman. Exactly what it means is rarely simple.
“Anyone grappling with the role of mother is certain to find themselves somewhere within these true stories of pregnancy, IVF, adoption, step children, infertility, miscarriage, SIDS, multiples, dead children, teenagers, abortion and, above all, stories of the searing joy found within the wholeness of a mother’s devotion.” — National Post
“Every woman’s relationship to motherhood is unique and complex. This notion of mutability is at the heart of Kerry Clare’s anthology… this is a powerful collection of stories by Canadian women of various ages, and every woman will benefit from reading it.” — Quill & Quire
“A book about motherhood that includes those who never gave birth? Those who’ve been pregnant but never held a child? Halleluiah! Finally: a conversation with no “us versus them.” Here is only “us,” those who desire to “be connected by this understanding of what it is to love and celebrate your children.” The M Word offers what mothers (new and old) need most: to know we’re not alone.” — The Winnipeg Review
“There is a strong Canadian tradition of public discourse on motherhood, from the late journalist June Callwood’s interviews with unwed teenaged mothers to Marni Jackson’s memoirs, and anthologies like Double Lives and Between Interruptions. The M Word adds 25 thoughtful voices the mix… You won’t keep this book; you’ll pass it on to friends whose current vocation is changing diapers, or to friends who want a child, and those who don’t.” — Herizons
“That’s what makes The M Word so surprising, and also moving, gripping, funny, and, occasionally, really uncomfortable to read: the writers put it all on the table, all the confusion, ambivalence, difficulty, suffering, hope, despair, and insight that swirl around people’s different experiences with motherhood, whether they are or aren’t mothers, however motherhood is defined, and whether their situation arose from choice or accident, gift or tragedy. As many of the writers observe, there’s a popular public story about motherhood that is all bliss, smiles, and cuddles. For many of them, there is plenty of bliss, but that’s rarely the whole story and often not the story at all. The M Word doesn’t try to tell one story: it allows, even insists, on the coexistence of many different ones.” — Open Letters Monthly
“Whether you’re a mother by choice or by circumstance, a woman without children by choice, circumstance or tragedy, or simply someone who has yet to decide which path to take, you’ll find yourself in one of these stories. And not always the ones you’d suspect.” — Atlantic Books Today
“As I finished reading it, a close friend found out that she was pregnant for the first time. As we celebrated her pregnancy, I hesitated to pass the collection along to her. Superstitious and hoping to protect her, I worried about giving her essays on loss and trauma and regret. But women deserve to hear a conversation about motherhood that is as beautiful and scary and messy and complex as motherhood itself. When her experience of motherhood strays from the accepted stereotype, if it hasn’t already, she’ll know that she is not alone.” — Literary Mama
“Stop everything. Withhold judgement for a minute. I promise you The M Word is not like any book you’ve read about motherhood.” — The Fernie Fix
“Rather than attempting to resolve issues once and for all, or to glorify and idealize a madonna-like figure, The M Word presents in alphabetical order a wide variety of the experiences of women who have embraced, eschewed or endured the experiences of motherhood in its many, different realities… This book was a pleasure to read.” — Kitchener-Waterloo Record
“The M Word felt like a kind of emotional labour for the three days I was reading. This is a motherlode of deeply personal truths, generous and courageous souls, bearing witness to lives shaped, if not defined, by, well, “life with a uterus,” as the foreword suggests.” — Telegraph-Journal
“Would I recommend this book? I think so, but with a caveat. I turned to this to find communion, and a road map. To find other mothers facing things my partner and I are facing. In facing so many possible stresses, dangers, and unknowns, what the world needs is more complicated and probably “uncomfortable” representations of motherhood…So yes, I would recommend the book. I would say, it’s a start.” — Lemon Hound
“I’m not normally drawn to mothering books but I like Kerry Clare’s work, so it was impossible not to be drawn to her anthology, The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood. I knew I’d be in the hands of good taste and good writing, even if, as a Childless Woman, I couldn’t actually relate. Well, what happened was this: I found myself not only enjoying the read, but relating. In a major way. Because, as it turns out, the essays are both about mothering and not mothering, about the exultant and the reluctant, the non-mothers by choice, the stepmothers by circumstance, women who will do anything to be come a mother and those who will do anything to not. And in every scenario, the difficulties, joys, fears, the way life is changed for the better and sometimes for the not entirely better. There are celebrations, regrets, and such honesty that it’s really quite impossible not to relate.” — Matilda Magtree
“The M Word is a book I would have benefited from reading when I was a young mother more than 30 years ago.” — The Coastal Spectator
“These open-hearted essays are all fascinating and absorbing, and sometimes heartbreaking. Ultimately these writers are speaking, as they take care to point out, for no one but themselves, and they do it tremendously well.” — Slightly Bookist
“I’ve just spent a couple of days with a collection of essays about motherhood. About life with a uterus, as Kerry Clare puts it. It was like slipping into this wonderful story circle, 25 articulate women speaking honestly of being–or not being–a mother.” — Borrowing Bones
"Books on motherhood make me wary — the doctrines, the camps, the divisions! But The M Word is different. It invites you in, insists that you listen, and provokes you to speak out and speak up. A lively, provocative, engaging, and moving conversation with those committed to mothering, those committed to not mothering, those conflicted by mothering, and those who wonder what mothering means, anyway. In other words, all of us." — Miranda Hill, author of Sleeping Funny