In Hoods of Motherhood: A Collection of Poems (Prolific Pulse Press LLC), as a first-generation Jewish Canadian granddaughter of Romanian Holocaust survivors and Spanish-Moroccan immigrants, I compiled a bittersweet portrayal of becoming a mother.

From the highs and lows of recurrent miscarriages to contending with c-section shame, to larger issues such as intergenerational trauma, and everyday issues like breastfeeding, my aim was to be relatable, lyrical and confessional with evocative imagery, allusions and wordplay.

But this book is not only for women and mothers: it’s meant for anyone who wants to walk down memory lane, grow an understanding of what it takes to be a parent, heal your inner child, find self-love, or simply appreciate poetry.

The reality is that becoming a new mother brings joy, but it’s also physically and emotionally draining, which is reflected in the wealth of emotions and allusions. For example, one can’t forget the added pressure of having big old shoes to fill, especially if you come from a traditional family. Too many women burn themselves out trying to meet the societal expectations of being a  “super mom”, which has become normalised and championed in pop culture, TV, film, and literature.

In 2010 with the birth of my first son, when I wasn’t at baby-mommy groups, doing circle eights around the mall, changing diapers, going to medical appointments, or breastfeeding, I found myself unable to recognise myself.

Then I would feel guilty for ever having let this happen because I told myself I would never turn into one those women who gave up on themselves in motherhood. It became an endless cycle of never being satisfied: When I was in the depths of motherhood I needed a break and when I had a break, I ended up missing the kids.

And there it was–the Jewish mom guilt. You know that feeling that creeps up like a hammer when you’re out to dinner with your husband for the first time in months?

As described in the opening poem of Hoods of Motherhood, early motherhood felt as though some days were “faceless and nameless.” On the one hand, there is joy and accomplishment in being a new mom, and on the other hand, there is also doubt from entering the unknown and feelings of self-sacrifice and anxiety.

Some women inherited romantic notions of what it means to be a mother and reality catches up to them quickly. Many moms, for example, refer to oversized underwear, worn after a cesarean section, as a mortifying wake-up call that no one can prepare you for. I list many of the real-life examples in the poem “Sex Miseducation” of what sex education class does and doesn’t prepare one for, such as an abortion or a miscarriage.

Personally, when the nurses advise moms-to-be to bring oversized underwear to the hospital in case of a c-section, I never knew how likely I was to be a statistic. They do that a lot in women’s health: talk to us like they’re talking out of a textbook.

Another theme in Hoods of Motherhood is how new moms struggle to maintain their identity since caregiving is all-consuming. Many of the poems in the collection explore what it’s like to both lose yourself and find yourself in motherhood. However, it is a delicate balance to achieve and all too often women sacrifice their needs and goals for the betterment of the family.

When I was a full-time English teacher, raising three boys, it was challenging to make time to write. When I started to write poems for Hoods of Motherhood in 2010 when my first son was born, I wrote sporadically, often in the middle of the night. The poem “Our Sanctuary”, for example, is about how night feeding not only bonds mother and child but mothers in “silent darkness” and was written in between night feedings.

The opening poem “The Eternal Child in the Mother” begins with a young, anxious, inexperienced mother wondering if she will conquer the feelings of self-sacrifice, reflected by the overflowing red-hooded gown, featured on the front cover. Alternatively, the journey of Hoods of Motherhood concludes with “The Wise Mother”, reflecting the need to tune into one’s inner child to be able to mother from a place of healing.

The poems were revised between 2016 and 2020 and were originally all one poem, but each poem didn’t take shape until I divided them into two and they turned into book ends of the opening and closing poems to Hoods of Motherhood.

Even though it was a challenge to make time to write, and find inspiration, there were other times when poetry was my lifesaver, such as when my husband and I experienced recurrent miscarriages (2012-2013) and I turned to poetry to process the raw emotions.

Poems such as “In The Waiting Room”, “Labyrinth,” and “The Japanese Maple Tree” reflect how infertility is isolating and heartbreaking. At times, it also makes you feel as though you are frozen in time, being held back, in trauma and fear. It was that holding pattern that propelled me to devote myself more to my craft and start to compile a poetry collection about my role as a mother, daughter, wife, teacher and woman.

I hope in reading about infertility and recurrent miscarriages that readers can find comfort and empathy in women’s health. Though motherhood revolves around childbirth, pregnancy, and childrearing, it’s also relevant to consider a woman’s role as mother, wife, and daughter and even the inner child.

It wasn’t until the throes of the pandemic in 2020 that I rediscovered my voice as described in the poem “Voice Box” and actually committed myself to writing. As a result, in 2021, I released a hybrid chapbook, based on some of my early publications in anthologies and journals, entitled Casa de mi Corazon: A Travel Journal of Poetry and Memoir (Poetica Publishing), which explores how my sense of community, Jewish Canadian identity and home was shaped by travel to Israel, Morocco, and Europe.

The final poem of the chapbook collection “Tikkun Olam” touches on larger issues like social justice, but is also my oath as a poet to remain committed to poetry. That’s because I lost touch with creative writing when I was a new mother and teacher. 

But there came a time when not writing became more costly than making time to do it, because not doing it meant that I would be selling myself short or selling myself out and giving up on my dream to be a poet.

I would turn into the woman I said I would never become.

That’s why I like to say there are two phases to motherhood; the first phase is when you’re a people-pleaser and you lose yourself in your new identity; and the second phase is where you learn to take up space and give back to yourself so you can give to others, and find yourself when you find footing again. But this becomes increasingly difficult in an ever-changing world where the game changes like a pandemic.

It was at that time that I began to compile my poetry collection on motherhood based on the poems written in 2010 when I first became a mom. It is this internal world that I explore in Hoods of Motherhood where I also consider where I learned my ideas of womanhood, such as society and culture as well as family and friends.

Many of the poems beg the following questions: How do we reconcile outdated notions of being a selfless matriarch with a modern-day understanding that being a mom is about learning to give back to yourself to give to others? How do we learn to accept what it is we wish to hold from our matriarchs and yet also release to become empowered mothers with our own wants, needs, and values?

These are questions I pondered in 2021 when faced with the loss of my grandmother, Toby Gornstein, a Holocaust survivor, a great inspiration in my life. Our relationship is reflected in the poem “My Bubby Toby’s Secret,” where I describe how she taught me to be an independent woman and focus on education, an opportunity she never had.

Then, only a short year later, I had to also say goodbye to my grandmother, Simy Soberano, whom I was named after (Simcha is Hebrew for Joy). Hoods of Motherhood features a poem dedicated to her “Mi Abuela” that explains how her love was like the “warmth” of the “Costa del Sol” sun rays “soothing my aching soul.”

In fact, much of the poetry collection considers women’s health, and how far we’ve come and how much we’ve also circled back and regressed when it comes to women’s rights. Bold and outspoken pieces such as “Down With Cool Girl”, “Keep Theology Out of Our Biology” and “I Am More Than The Sum Of My Parts,” challenge stereotypes and explore sexuality, femininity, body image, body autonomy, abortion rights, and unlearning people-pleasing and setting healthy boundaries, for example.

It was only by creating a room of my own that I could write despite the demands of motherhood and begin to gain some traction in reaching my goals. I was able to be consistent in my efforts and use networking to the best of my ability.

I eventually founded the mental health literary publication, Put It To Rest on the blogging platform Medium, inspired in honour of the loss of a dear friend. I never thought Put It To Rest would be the vehicle to discover a publisher. But when a writer of Put It To Rest, Rebecca Herz, announced that she had signed with Prolific Pulse Press LLC that is when I discovered this amazing small press. The front and back cover of Hoods of Motherhood was designed by my publisher, Lisa Tomey-Zonneveld.

The woman on the cover is wearing a red gown, facing a maze: the maze is a symbol in poems the “Labyrinth” and  “Delirium” which are about infertility and burnout. There are also poems like “I Am A Pandemic Zombie Mom” that reflect the dark humour of being a mom and a teacher during school lockdowns. Then lyrics like “I Got A Case of the Napping Blues” are satirical and relatable.

Hoods of Motherhood takes the reader through this maze and milestones, such as also exploring the mother-daughter relationship in “Divine Motherhood,” which includes a moment where the speaker must untangle what is hers from what belongs to her mother, or her mother’s mother, or to outdated notions of gender and identity.

This is juxtaposed by the back cover of a girl wearing the innocence of a white dress, entering a forest, only to come out the other side as a woman. Hoods of Motherhood takes the reader on a journey through motherhood and womanhood through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The multifaceted world of womanhood and reclaiming women’s strength and bodily autonomy is championed in poems like “This Body Is Electric” expressing that Mother Nature like women’s bodies must not be exploited for there to be peace and humanity.

Hoods of Motherhood celebrates the whole woman.

Hoods of Motherhood: A Collection of Poems is available online and at select local bookstores, such as Indigo Chapters, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Amazon, and more.


Article by Author/s
Lindsay Soberano
Lindsay Soberano Wilson is a teacher and author. She is a Pushcart Nominee for Hoods of Motherhood: A Collection of Poems (Prolific Pulse Press, 2023). Her chapbook Casa de mi Corazon: A Travel Journal of Poetry and Memoir explores how her sense of community, Canadian Jewish identity, and home was shaped by travel. Soberano Wilson graduated from Concordia University's Creative Writing program and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She is writing a memoir about being a third-generation Holocaust survivor.

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