When I was growing up, I had two very wrong impressions about motherhood. The first was that being a mom meant always thinking your kid (and possibly every other kid around them) was perfect, no matter what they did. The other was that being a mom meant your entire life centered around kids.
I carried these misconceptions with me until I was a year or two out of college and only fully understood how wrong-headed they were when I started meeting adult friends who had kids, and also had hobbies and interests and, in one memorable case, a frank horror of those cliched delights like children’s choirs and the sound of children laughing. (“But why are they laughing? And what at?”)
While some people might say that my biological clock has pushed me over into a new mental time zone (and, inarguably, this shift occurred slowly but surely over the course of my late twenties and early thirties, right on biological schedule), I prefer to think that I woke up, looked around me, and realized that a lot of cool people had kids. That I liked my friends’ kids. And that I actually got a kick out of sharing my interests with kids, showing them what lives under rocks and in tide pools and telling stories about history and art and the stars.
As I’m getting ready for maternity leave from this and my various other projects, I’m happy to report that I’m going to test all of this out on my own, finally.
What does this mean for the Dream Foundry? First, it means we’ve got a fabulous new addition to our family as well. Langley Hyde has joined our team as Content Co-Manager. She and I have been working in the background over the last few weeks to make sure that the blog continues running smoothly while I’m away, and she’s already brought in great ideas and new energy. Once I return, Langley and I will be working together to build on this beautiful little community that we have here, and continue trying to raise the profile of new artists in our arena in all the exciting directions that the speculative arts can take. In the past few years, nothing did more to assure me that I wanted a kid than watching, and helping, little minds learn new things. I feel like that’s a lesson I can take into all areas of my work and art. What new ideas do I want to expose people to? What assumptions can I challenge? How can I make everywhere I go a little bit more like the kind of world I want my baby to grow up in?
We’re going to keep exploring and pushing and seeking. We hope you’ll join us.
When I went into parenthood, I had expectations: of what I’d do, of how I’d do it, of how it would transform me, and of how it wouldn’t. I hoped, but did not expect, that I’d learn more about what it meant to be human and that this would make me into a better writer—an idea that came in part from Diana Wynne Jones’s autobiographical essay. Parenthood has already taught me about human nature (or at least the natures of two very small humans).
You may have heard the saying: It takes a village.
After having children, I became painfully, intimately aware of my own dependency when, post-partum, I needed weeks before I could comfortably climb stairs. I could feel my own children’s dependency, their fragility, as I held them, as my body’s own warmth gave them the perfect conditions that human life needs to thrive. I understood and still understand that I play a pivotal role in their upbringing—yet I am also only one strand that binds them into human culture, and they need all the connections they can get. I can give my children my appreciation of beauty, art supplies, books but they needed someone else to share their love of rap.
I learned that parenthood isn’t a heroic battle—not for me. It’s not about what I do or how I do it. Parenthood is participating in and developing a healthy network and ecosystem for my children to thrive in.
Dream Foundry is still in its earliest days: its infancy. It has a solid beginning. It has people who love it, crucial to the development of anything that must grow and learn. It’s at the center of an ecosystem of professionals who are donating their time and energy. It has its village. But soon it must grow into its own. It will become itself an “ecosystem of professionals from across the speculative fiction industry to share skills, insights, and opportunities” that can support other creators, who then in turn will develop the network they need with each other to succeed and grow in the speculative arts.
As Jen Grogan steps away—temporarily—to care for her newborn network, I hope to continue her strong start in her tradition; when she returns, I am excited that I’ll have the chance to continue to collaborate with her. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, creating is not about what I can do or how I can do it: it’s about what we can do together. Collaboration, give and take, is at the heart of every relationship. Every strand needs two plies to ensure its strength in the larger network.
I look forward to participating in this growing, diversifying ecosystem. I hope to see you there.