As a woman entering an age in life when motherhood is a main area of interest and concern, I was excited and intrigued by the idea of a magazine titled get born and dedicated to “the uncensored voice of motherhood.” The title of this magazine alone is reminiscent of certain phrases like get lost and get bent. I must say, I was very hopeful.
get born is a motherhood magazine with attitude. If you’re looking for a goo-goo ga-ga read about the glories and exultations of motherhood, move on. This magazine is for real people, real mothers, real women. As editor Heather Janssen states in her opening letter, “few of our essays end happily. They do, however, end well.” This isn’t a happy-go-lucky parenting magazine. It’s a place for women to read about other women’s stories. Motherhood isn’t just about cute little babies. It’s about marriage and divorce, adoption and fertility issues, labor and what comes after, aka the rest of your life. It’s a magazine that, in my opinion, is a sort of therapy for women experiencing all the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Share your story. Learn from others. And no matter what, laugh.
The Spring Issue of get born is titled Scars, Healing & Hope. It explores both the physical and emotional scars of womanhood. The cover of this short magazine is a photograph of Laurie White baring her naked chest, which is flat and scarred from a mastectomy (photograph by G. Mark Lewis). “Marks of Motherhood” shows several photographs of women’s stretched and scarred bellies. From stretch marks and mastectomy scars to divorce and unsuccessful adoptions, scars are a continual part of our lives, and healing begins by accepting and sharing our scars. Janssen asks “In the end, what do we gain if we don’t tell the truth about our pain?” The articles and essays that follow begin to tell this emotional truth.
Don’t get me wrong; get born isn’t depressing. While it’s a place where women can admit their weaknesses and fears, like finding their children annoying and wanting to scream at them or finally just giving up on a dead-end marriage, it’s also a place of celebration and acceptance. In “Lay off the Parents Already,” Karen Maezen Miller writes: “Parenthood is nonstop personal transformation. We can’t figure it out because we can’t figure it out! It’s not Sudoku, you know.” Her message is two-fold. To the media constantly telling us how we should be parenting and that we’re bad parents if we’re not hanging on their every word – SHUT UP! And to parents – it’s okay; you don’t have to be perfect. Accept yourself, and ignore those busybodies.
Miller’s article is frustrated, but funny. And there’s more humor to be had. One article titled “I’m Bringing Sexy Back” (Heather Schichtel) is about a woman planning a romantic evening for her and her husband, only to fall asleep on the couch in her flannel pajamas before he arrives. Another light-minded section is the centerfold “Haiku Extravaganza,” which is chock full of readers’ haikus, some good, some bad, but all relatable and fun to read.
While most of the articles in get born are interesting, the best, most interesting, and most well-written one is called “Granny in the House” (Leslie Darby-Zhao). Darby-Zhao is an American woman who married a Chinese man, moved to China, and had a baby. Not wanting to offend her new family, and wanting desperately to fit into the Chinese culture, Darby-Zhao agrees to have her mother-in-law move in to help take care of the baby. It’s a Chinese custom, and is probably the last thing most of us American women would ever want to transpire. But Darby-Zhao makes the most of it. While her mother-in-law is over-bearing – bundling her little one in several layers on a sunny day or refusing to throw out any unused shredded lettuce – she’s also an experienced mother herself, and her constant residency means young mom can actually take showers during the day! More seriously, Darby-Zhao writes
And so, being a mother immersed in Chinese culture, I now see that one can become intellectually and financially independent from one’s parents but still invite them to be a part of one’s household, which, best case scenario, provides children with another generational layer of love and nurture on a daily basis.
A good lesson to learn.
get born is versatile. It’s sarcastic and humorous. It’s serious and thoughtful. It’s a short mag, and not necessarily in the vein of traditional literary publications, but it fills a niche. If you’re a mom, mom-to-be, or just interested in women’s maternal issues, get born is a good place to get the true uncensored story.