once there was a mom. once there was a journalist who became a mom. once there was a journalist who got laid off because the newspapers closed. once there was a journalist who was a mom who was a writer even though the newspapers closed. once there was a writer who was a mom who got cancer. once there was a writer who was a mom who got cancer who got divorced. once there was a mom who was a writer who got cancer and lost custody of her daughter because she was too poor and too sick to take care of her. once there was a mom who didn’t see her daughter much because the father and new wife moved with the daughter to canada. once there was a mom who was a writer who had had cancer and who was poor who struggled to create a new life for herself on an island with few resources and little support. once there was a mom who wrote about how she agonized about money and writing and kids. once there was a mom who was a writer/journalist who was a cancer survivor and who told the truth about how hard it was to be divorced and poor and not see your kid much and not have much in the way of support and how lonely it was a lot of the time to be her and maybe to be anybody and maybe to be any kind of mother especially a poor one and especially a sick one. once there was a mom who wrote about those things, but didn’t publish them because she was afraid it would upset her daughter. once there was a mom who died under mysterious circumstances that were ruled accidental, but another mom wonders if maybe that first mom killed herself, because she deleted all her online writing about being a mom and suffering and struggling with disease and bills and absence. once there was this other mom who mourned the first one, even though she didn’t know that mom well, but there was something in that struggle she recognized. once there was yet a third and maybe a fourth and while we’re at it, probably a lot more maybe moms and maybe not moms, never moms, too old to be moms, to young to be moms, or they have just decided not to be moms to whom this struggle speaks, for whom silence is the last terrifying option. daughters wondering if their mothers loved or even liked them. daughters carrying the wounds of their mothers, unspoken, because the vocabulary does not quite exist to talk about these things. once there was a mom who tried to talk about that breach. On facebook primarily, the place where so many confessions happen. once there was a mom who agonized. once there was a mom who loved and was devoted to her daughter despite her agonies. once there was a mom who was a good mom nonetheless. once there was a mom who tried in a small way to tell that story. once there were other moms who will try to tell theirs too.
Stephanie Barbé Hammer’s new novel Pretend Plumber and her new poetry chapbook City Slicker are appearing this summer. Originally from Manhattan, Stephanie lived in Southern California for 30 years and now currently resides on Whidbey Island, Washington State, where she keeps on trying to walk to coffee. To read more of her work, visit stephaniebarbehammer.net.
All rights © Stephanie Barbé Hammer