I'm back from Toronto, where I attended and presented at the annual Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) conference at York University. The conference was really energizing and I met some amazing women there.
In the "Mothering, Gender, Peace and Violence" session of the conference, I presented a personal essay recounting my experience as a pregnant journalist covering the memorial service of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. My presentation went well and the discussion that followed was rich and revealing. One woman said my piece resonated with her because she was pregnant during the September 11 attacks. Another woman went into labor that day. Yet another was pregnant during the Tiananmen Square protests. It was a powerful moment realizing that all of us had experienced first-time motherhood during turbulent times.
After my presentation, I had lunch with Amy Hudock, founder and co-editor of Literary Mama. I had been hoping to meet her at the conference, so being able to spend an hour with her talking about motherhood, writing, career paths and other topics was simply awesome. She's definitely an inspiration.
Although the theme of the conference was "Mothering, Violence, Militarism, War and Social Justice", the embedded "Motherhood Movement" conference included dynamic keynote panels I really enjoyed. One of my favorites was one that was featured Andrea O'Reilly, founder and director of ARM.
Another favorite was the "Creativity, Expression, and Agency" keynote panel. All of the panelists were wonderful - smart, funny, engaging, etc. - but it was rather disappointing that there wasn't more diversity represented. It would have been great to include at least one woman of color, for instance. Still, it was a strong panel and I was happy to meet Jennifer Niesslein, co-founder of Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers, afterward.
I also met Joy Rose, president and founder of Mamapalooza. I recognized her from the ARM/Mamapalooza conference "Performing Feminist Motherhood: Outlaw Mothers in Music, Media, Arts and Cultural Expression" in May. (She had attended my talk, "Moms On- and Offline," and contributed to a lively discussion about how much personal information to share on the Internet.)
All in all, it was invigorating being immersed in a community of smart, talented women from all over the world who are passionate about what they do. I'm so glad I was part of it.