Mama's Writing

Issa Mas | Mama’s Writing

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.

What three words describe you as a mother? 

Devoted, self-flagellating, evolving.

What surprised you about motherhood? 

I was surprised by how much work I needed to do on myself, because of my own childhood, in order to be the best mother I can possibly be for my son.

How has parenting influenced your writing?
My best parenting has come out of what I’m able to extract from within the nuance of any given situation, and I find that my best writing comes from doing the same.

Knowing that your children will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing?

I don’t ever write with my son in mind, so it rarely impacts the writing process. Interestingly enough, I’ve decided to hold a copy of my book for him to read for when he’s older than he is now (14), because I’m not sure if he’s ready to read it just yet.

What fictional mother do you most admire? 

Max’s mother in Where The Wild Things Are. In the beginning of the story, she is thoroughly fed up with her child’s bad behavior, sending him to his room as a disciplinary measure. By the end of the story, Max finds a hot meal waiting for him in his room, because a mother’s love transcends even the worst parental frustrations.

What’s the worst motherhood advice you’ve ever gotten? 

“When you become a mother you cease to exist as a woman — from the moment you become a mother your entire life should be about your children.”

How has motherhood shaped your relationship with the world?

Becoming a mother has broken me wide open to the suffering of all humans, the poor treatment of this planet, and the need to speak up for the highest good of the world my child will inherit. I sometimes feel an enormous amount of guilt, bringing a child into a world that seems to be in decline. I soothe my anxiety with the hope that my son will be one of the many people who will one day turn things around for the better. 

Issa M. Mas lives in New York City with her 14-year-old son, Theodore, and their dog, Jake. She is the author of Grief Thoughts: Brief Anecdotes About Profound Loss. As a 20-year practicing Buddhist she brings a wealth of wisdom and lovingkindness to the lives of others via her offerings in written form, but as an over 40-year native New Yorker her prolific use of profanity will never end. You can find some of her words here:

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Filed under: Mama's Writing


Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow.