October 8, 2015

I is for Inspiration


Photography by Mary Allison Tierney

Writers, aspiring or published, have all heard the old saw that we should write about what we know. But what if ‘what you know’ isn’t really that inspiring? At least not at first glance?

The day-to-day grind of motherhood rarely feels inspiring. It’s the quotidian. It’s routine, just the daily grind. Writing about motherhood is like writing about your day job. Nobody wants to hear it. That’s probably why serious critics tend to disparage writing about parenting, especially motherhood, although even fathers get an eye-roll when they say they write about their kids. Motherhood. Women. All that little day-to-day stuff – it’s not really “serious” is it?

And yet we mother-writers keep writing. Mothering is what we know, after all. It’s our inspiration. When I first started writing, part of my inspiration was to capture those fleeting moments of babyhood. A photo can frame a moment but writing gives us the full picture. Writing can explain why the toys in the background of the picture are strewn all over the floor or why that yellow fire hydrant was just so fascinating on that summer’s morning at the park.

All of us who have children, whether we write or not, are inspired by them in one-way or another. Children are the main reason that half the country manages to get out of bed every morning, for god’s sake – to get our kids breakfast, to earn the money that pays for their needs, to change a baby, or to prepare things for school. It might not be glamorous but the everyday job of raising a tiny person is certainly inspiring. It makes us think, see the world in new ways and step outside of ourselves. So for that reason, I’m glad to be part of a writers’ group that finds motherhood just as inspiring as I do.

Mairead (MJ) Brodie’s essay Winging It appears in Mamas Write.


  1. Sue LeBreton says:

    MJ, this is so true. “It makes us think, see the world in new ways and step outside of ourselves.” Being a mom has made me a better person and challenged me to grow in ways I never thought possible.

    • MJ Brodie says:

      Thanks, Sue! Motherhood is definitely an eye-opening experience and I think my writing has changed too as a result.

  2. MJ – my most favorite comment about my writing came from my son, ‘get a life, mom. Write about your own stuff!’ I do, I told him. You are my stuff, and if you were more boring maybe is have nothing to write about. From breast feeding to college apps writing helps me process and hone my identity as mom and writer. Thanks!

  3. Teri Stevens says:

    What a wonderfully true and insightful post! I just read it after getting up early to make three lunches for the “stuff” I write about. They are an inspiration in the midst of the uninspiring grind. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I try to take inspiration from everything in my life. Nice to meet you!

Speak Your Mind