My local library branch is small. The building it’s in is basically a small modular ranch home; when you enter there is a small bedroom-sized space with all the book stacks, fiction and non-fiction. The main part of the building is open, with four cushy chairs for seating in a circle, four computers for public use, magazine racks, and the circulation desk. To the far left, with the highest ceiling and widest space, is the children’s section of the library, with a small desk with crayons on one side and a wooden alligator filled with board-books on the other. What the library doesn’t have in books it makes up for in two important ways: one, the ability to have books from any other regional library delivered to this library when available; two, a great magazine selection.
Consumer Reports, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living… ah yes, this is what dreams are made of. Issues available for the loaning for two weeks, all free and within five miles of my home. It was on one of these days thumbing through Consumer Reports for phone reviews a few years ago when I noticed the magazine placed next to it. Brain, Child was the name. The tagline: The magazine for thinking mothers. I gave a half-smile, thinking, “Oh good, there will be a magazine to keep my brain from turning to mush when I have kids.” I was still blissfully ignorant of how difficult of a time I would have becoming a mother at the time, and I tucked away the knowledge of a magazine I had never heard of before into that place where I save trivia for a rainy day.
Last summer, several months pregnant, I happily checked out my first issue of Brain, Child for a 12-hour car ride. And within minutes of opening the pages, I was crushed: this issue was going to be the last. I thought It figures, the minute I get close to becoming a mother one thing I looked forward to is taken away. I read the magazine sad with my knowledge. I guess there isn’t a market for thinking mothers.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. Now that my son is no longer a ball of instinctual and evolutionary responses and is gasp! learning things daily, I am making more of an effort to give him purposeful activities. This would include Saturday morning story hour at the library. While waiting for other children to arrive, we wandered over to look at the magazines and lo and behold, Brain, Child was there on the shelf. I thought they must have been saving the old issues for posterity. But no, the date said “Summer 2013.” Wait a minute, I thought. Was this an episode of baby brain where I had completely missed the message? I grabbed the oldest magazine there – Winter 2013 – and brought it home.
Turns out the magazine did end, but not long after someone had come along to purchase the magazine and keep it up and going. The new owner/editor, Marcelle Soviero, was a reader who, like me, couldn’t let the deliciousness of the magazine slip away – and I am so grateful she took the leap to keep it alive.
You need to read this magazine, especially if you are an infertilite, but it’s not going to be easy for you. Every poem, article, essay, and letter is written by a mother. But every poem, article, essay, and letter is moving and impactful and considers different perspectives on what it means to be a mother, and what it means to have a family. The Winter 2013 issue alone hears the voices of women who’ve had miscarriages, who are searching for egg donors, who are foster-cum-adoptive parents, who are infertile. And I have cried at their stories, able to know exactly what they mean and so grateful they were brutally honest about their thoughts, emotions, experiences. Brutally honest. But underneath it all, every story is written by a “mother” in however way that means for her. Unlike other pregnancy or parenting magazines which focus on what chic stroller you should buy or the latest in teething biscuits, this magazine gets to the root of discovering what it means to be a mother. The decisions you make on behalf of your children and how you think through those; the emotions of reproductive endocrinologist waiting rooms and their travertine floors; understanding teenage neuroscience… It’s all peacefully co-existing in the pages of one relatively-ad-free (there are a few) judgement-free magazine.
You won’t find this magazine easy to find. There are no beautiful cover models. The cover story of this issue is “Playing God? Do kids really need religion?” and beneath that, “Babies and BMI: How big is too big?” Those headlines fall below the main water color painting on the issue of two red-brown owls with large magnetic black eyes. But if you let yourself listen to these women and take the time to hear their stories, you’ll find that not only are you not alone but that there is hope for you too.