A few summers ago I was in my poetry residency for the week. The instructor gave our class a writing assignment: produce a poem about food.
That night, I sat for a while looking at a blank page, wondering what to write.
For context, I began baking more that summer. I became focused on making the perfect pound cake and sharing it with others. Baking was not a loved hobby but I found a recipe that inspired me. The longer I reflected, the more I felt led to process something vulnerable and write it. I was surprised with what followed, but it was well received by my classmates, which gave me courage and affirmation.
Pound Cake //
Something was missed mashing together all I wanted.
I’m the best darn mother there is, if only
I had the kids to prove it: Birthday cakes I never got to
make. Brownies I never sent to school in a lunch
box. But this cake’s not as dramatic as the frosted
layer, not as simple as a cupcake. Centuries
old, a no fail 1 pound of flour, sugar, butter,
and eggs. Half and half, vanilla extract, dash
of salt, mixed smooth and creamy - bowl to lick!
Predictability, control by shaping matter. Pound
cake for the dinner party. Pound cake
for the new neighbor. Pound cake and coffee.
Lemon, chocolate, vanilla pound cake.
Serve on paper plate or heirloom china.
Dense, sweet, bread like yum. Baked in a bundt,
captured on a cooling rack, sprinkled with
powdered sugar. Fecundity taken in another direction.
Not giving birth to the world, just feeding it.
Motherhood in Another Direction
Can you hear the longing, the desire, the question, and finally the attempt to soothe this thing that was and has always been within me? I was asking a question, “What does motherhood have for me, a childless woman? Is there more to this desire than simply teaching and nurturing kids in a classroom? Have I missed my moment?”
What’s more, I know I am not the only woman who lives out these questions. Childlessness can feel like its own kind of infertility—a sense of loss at never having had the chance. There are many stories, and many of my sisters who carry their own experience of motherhood, with all its deepest joys and sometimes sorrow.
But He is the Restorer and when this is handed back to God, He can make it beautiful. In my case, it is taking steps toward foster parent training with an open heart for adoption—and having peace in the process. It is not only waiting for the right time, but then trusting and moving forward in faith. Allowing God to be the builder. Knowing He put the desire for motherhood within me and He will see it fulfilled.
How is God speaking to you about motherhood? Where is He asking you to build mother culture?
He can be trusted. Our dreams and sorrows find a home in His heart. This is a call for all women, even those who have never felt the desire to have children. The feminine gifts brought to bear in our communities make us all better. Rightly-ordered femininity does not have to compete with or for men, it does not have to demand a place at the table.
If anyone changed the view of women in culture, it was Jesus Himself. He was a radical inviter of those typically uninvited. Know you are being invited by Him where you find yourself right now.
Jenny Richeson is a Catholic writer who is a lover of language and its mysteries. By day she provides speech pathology and cognitive intervention services to kids. Her main goal in life is to be a speaking stargazer caught up in wonder whenever possible. She makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Matt. Together they find God in gardening and all manner of outdoor activities whenever they can. Stargazing is a favorite pastime too. You can find out more about her here.