melody godfred motherhood

The Poetry of Motherhood by Melody Godfred

I was a poet long before I became a mother. My childhood journals are filled with enough poetry to fill a collection entitled, Limerence, a word that defines the experience of most adolescent romances. But my early adulthood pulled me away from poetry and towards more practical things: a career first as an attorney, and then as an entrepreneur. I stopped writing. I tucked away my poetry and buttoned up my blazers. Instead of reflecting on my world and experiences, I wrote legal memos and took client meetings. I did what I thought I was supposed to do. Then I became a mother, to unexpected twins no less. You can say that when they were born, a part of me was reborn along with them: my siloed poet slowly emerged from the slumber of my self. This time, the poems weren’t about unrequited love from an unsuspecting lover. They were about the love I needed much more than that: my own. I didn’t know what self-love was until I nearly sacrificed my whole self trying to be the perfect mother to premature babies I had no idea how to take care of. But slowly but surely, I wrote and wrote and started reclaiming the self that had taken a back seat to my practical career and perfect family. I stopped practicing law. I transitioned away from entrepreneurship. I wrote and published three books, now with one more on the way. I’ve never looked back. Early on I wrote that self-care saved my body, self-love saved my soul. Both remain true today, twelve years and three kids later. Honoring the poet in me is the ultimate act of self-love for me because it is the truest expression of my authentic self. Seeing how authentic my children are willing to be, without shame or hesitation, inspires me to do the same. When I show up for me, I’m better able to show up for them. I also—in leading by example—give them permission to do the same.


I’m realizing more and more, as a parent and as a poet, that hardship has been the portal to some of my greatest triumphs. Being a mother has forced me to stretch in all kinds of unprecedented ways, but most of all, motherhood has allowed me the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: the eyes of my children. I often wonder what makes their perspective so different from mine. I think it’s because when we are children, we are all essence and no ego. There is no wondering about our place in the world – instead, children create new worlds as an extension of who they are over and over again. They see the things we as adults so casually rush passed. For my son, a fascination with trash trucks gave way to fire trucks and now Cybertrucks. He is always on the lookout for his joy. For me, my poetry today is also about noticing. Noticing the beauty in the world around me, in my children, in me.


People often ask me what my routine is as a poet. When do I write, how do I write? I laugh at what the reaction would be if someone saw me pulled over on the side of the road on the way to school because a butterfly caught my eye and I had to write about it. But that is often the case. The poetry catches me when I channel my children and keep my eyes wide open and filled with awe at the world around me. When I stop to notice, when I let my essence lead, when I give myself permission to stretch, the poetry just comes. The memes about poets and their notes app are all true: but in the case of mothers, the poetry notes are interspersed with lacrosse schedules, grocery lists, and endless to-dos that keep our worlds in orbit. This is the poetry of motherhood. I wouldn’t have it any other way.