Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.
How has writing influenced your parenting?
I think that writing has made me more creative as a mother. The same way that I aim to think more expansively and deeply in my writing, I try to do the same while raising my two girls. On the fun and frivolous side, writing has given me more room to have fun with storytime and games I make up on the spot with the girls. On the more serious side, I employ creativity in both disciplines and encouraging them to be creatively expressive as well.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mother?
There are so many things I love about being a mother. One of my favorites is being able to see the world through [my children’s] eyes. When they marvel over something that I’ve gazed past a million times, or when they offer a clear, succinct assessment of something that I made much more complicated in my mind, I’m so grateful for them and our relationship.
How do you balance motherhood and finding the space to write?
Balancing writing and motherhood has been a constantly evolving practice. Over the last two years, I’ve contended with navigating a divorce, a global pandemic, managing work and school at home, and the loss of the village that helped me with my girls. When my girls are with me, writing generally happens during their slumber – either early in the morning or late at night, depending on my energy levels. When they’re with their dad, I’m able to get a good chunk of writing done uninterrupted. Inspiration hits when it hits, though, so I get a lot of use out of sending myself quick emails or voice notes when I’m on mommy mode so that I can go back to them later.
Knowing that your children will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing?
My general rule has been to have an explanation ready should my kids ever ask me about anything I write. Am I writing a personal story that they may have questions about? Am I writing something about the state of the world that may be outdated by the time they read it? As a mother and a writer, I always want to be able to offer them an honest and genuine explanation about where exactly I was at the time of writing said work. At the same time, I’m still working on that intersection of my telling of a story and holding space for the privacy of their experience within that same story. That’s something I’m still trying to navigate and may stumble with at times, but my kids are ever-present in how I manage public-facing writing.
How have other mother figures you have encountered in your community influenced your parenting? Your writing?
Other writer-mothers have helped me to not feel like I’m not alone in feeling mom guilt when writing takes up my time or reminded me that the words would come back when it felt like pregnancy brain or postpartum depression stole them from me. We share opportunities and encouragement with one another, and the other writer-mothers I’m in community with offer up different possibility models of how to do all of this work while caring for ourselves in the process.
What makes you a bad-ass mother?
I’m a bad-ass mother because I believe in my ability to create both unbridled magic and the comforts of stability for my babies. I’m a bad-ass mother because my love for my babies has unlocked a new level of strength, self-love, and creativity within myself. I’m a bad-ass mother because those babies love me, so I get up and do my best every day so that they always know that I love them, too.
Bee Quammie is a Toronto-based multimedia storyteller: a writer, radio host, TV personality, and public speaker. She has written for publications like The Globe and Mail, Men’s Health, Today’s Parent, Macleans, and more. She is the co-host of the Global News Radio show The Kultur’D Show and has been a featured panelist and commentator on shows like CityTV’s Cityline, CBC’s The National, Global’s ET Canada, and CTV’s The Social. Bee regularly writes and speaks on topics like race and culture, parenting, mental health, and more, and she resides in the Toronto area with her two daughters.
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