Until now. I’ve never read a piece of fiction in The New Yorker and thought, That author must have been sitting next to me singing “The Wheels on the Bus” in Mommy and Me class. But I’ll eat my flower hair wreath if Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s story, “The Erlking” isn’t set at the very same Pasadena Waldorf School Elves’ Faire at which I have many times lamented my lack of ability to felt.
Every sentence of the story resonated with me. It’s about the tragedy contained in those moments of disconnection between parent and child. It made me think of the ways that I’ll never know my son, the ways that the world he’s living in is so different from mine, even as we’re holding hands.
Generally, I have my mommy life and my life in literature and never the twain shall meet. Yes, I mom-blog with the best of ’em, but when I write (or even read) books, I put on a different hat entirely. Maybe I’m scared to write fiction that deals with issues around motherhood because I’m afraid it won’t be taken seriously. This fear of mine has me pandering to the very sentiment I loathe.
Bynum’s story married art and life in a way that I found both brave and profound. I had my standard jealous reaction when I read something fantastic– I wish I had done it myself.