A Review of “The Wilderness of Motherhood”

A Review of “The Wilderness of Motherhood” October 12, 2014

“What I want to see is the card with the naked warrior woman, flecked in blood and gore, with her sword in one hand and her other holding her baby to her hip. I want to see the corpses of defeated demons at her feet. After birthing my son, that is motherhood to me.” –Lora Freeman Williams 

The-Wilderness-of-Motherhood-book-cover (1)Lora Freeman Williams recently sent me a copy of her new book The Wilderness of Motherhood to read and review. This book is a memoir of her experiences as a mother, and how those experiences were shaped by her experiences with her own mother. If you enjoy memoirs, this is a good one to check out. It is well-written, interesting, and empowering.

I am not a mother or parent myself. I’ve never been pregnant, never given birth, and never adopted or raised a child (sometimes I tell people my cats are my babies, but I’m not sure that counts here). So I read Williams’ book as an outsider to the world of child-birthing and parenting.

Still, even as an outsider, I found it beautiful how she was able to draw connections between giving birth and mothering and her own spirituality.

Giving birth is an experience mostly shared by people on the margins of society. Usually the people who give birth are women. Other sometimes they are queer or trans people. Parenting is also an experience that is often seen as “women’s work.” Patriarchal society sometimes uses these experiences of parenting/giving birth to keep women and marginalized folks in line–to put us in boxes, and deny us full humanity. Giving birth and parenting are simultaneously degraded and put on a pedestal.

What I liked about Williams’ book is how she was able to describe her experiences and connect them to her faith and spirituality in a way that broke out of those boxes. She doesn’t need to pretend that all mothers are saints in order for her to draw meaning from her experience with mothering. She shares her own story with wisdom and honesty, but also with compassion and grace, both for her mother and for herself.

Williams shares with us her upbringing and her complicated and difficult memories of her childhood and of her relationship with her own mother.  She shares how it feels to not have a mother or any parent to care for you, as she tells about her time spent in a children’s home after her mother was arrested. She talks about how she became a mother herself, while “carrying” her mother with her.

Whether you’re a parent, or whether you have gone through a different type of wilderness, Lora Freeman Williams’s book is one that you will enjoy. Her story is powerful and empowering. If you are interested in checking out her book, pick up a copy at Amazon.

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