Reader Q&A: Lisa Beauvois

Reader Q&A Lisa Beauvois ArtEach week we talk with one of our readers, here’s what thinking mother Lisa Beauvois of Baltimore, Maryland has to say.

Tell me a little bit about your family…

We are a family of five living in Baltimore, Maryland. My husband grew up in Yorkshire England; I grew up between France and Texas – and we met in Puerto Rico – so there are a lot of different ideas and languages floating around our household. Our eldest, Ella, is seven years old. She’s our quiet, pensive, artistic one and is presently crazy about theater. Kaitlyn, four years old, is a whirlwind of energy and full of quippy remarks and who occasionally settles down for a nice snuggle. Patrick, our two-year-old son, is a train and truck aficionado – which we didn’t realize until his second birthday when he received a collection of matchbox cars as a gift. Up until that point we thought he was happy playing the mannequin for the girls’ dress up parties! He’s making up for lost time and now only talks about trains, trucks and automobiles, and he talks a lot!

Why do you subscribe to Brain, Child? (e.g. What does the magazine mean to you; how does it compare to other magazines you read?)

I subscribed to Brain, Child about five years ago when my eldest was three and I finally had five minutes to read something other than brief articles about ‘how to get your kid to sleep!’ A dear friend, Brigitte, originally told me about the magazine. We both savor each issue, wait impatiently for the next – and discuss the articles at length while waiting. Even the articles that seem to have nothing to do with my present life end up speaking to me and opening my eyes to the diversity of parenting ideas and creative solutions to challenges.

Brain, Child does not compare to any other magazines I subscribe to. When you announced your final issue two years ago – my fellow Brain, Child readers and I researched all sorts of parenting magazines in an attempt to find a suitable replacement. We scoured websites and perused the library shelves for similar writing. Slate, The Huffington Post (parenting section) and some Wall Street Journal articles provided short-term relief but since these were all online, I felt the loss of holding a quality print magazine that would help me connect to my kids and family. A real magazine I could take to the bath and read during my soak.

What is your favorite Brain, Child essay, story or feature?

My very favorite parenting article of ALL TIME was Catherine Newman’s It Gets Better (Summer 2012). That article made me cry tears of laughter and sadness at the same time as I recognized myself in the author’s younger self. It gave me such joy for the future. I made at least twenty copies and gave it to all the women in my mom’s group and my closest friends with kids. Brilliant.

I also loved Katherine Ozment’s feature article on sibling rivalry (All My Children, Winter 2012). It was awesome – fantastically researched, but also gave me practical ideas – that work. In the same issue was Barbara Dara Cooper’s haunting story of the pain she and her family suffered when faced with her daughter’s eating disorder. Excellent. My eldest daughter is 7, I’ve never had an eating disorder, yet Ms. Cooper’s writing left me feeling I had been there with her. I was edgy all week after reading it. I kept thinking about how hard the mom tried to help. Heart wrenching. I still wonder how things worked out for them.

I also love the debates – always come away feeling like I can clearly see both sides of the issue. And I immediately flip to the last page for Motherwit when I get my issue. Hilarious!!

What would you like to see more of in Brain, Child?

Brain, Child always provides me with different viewpoints, ideas, methods to approach this crazy mothering journey we are on. I always feel more centered, more capable after reading your articles. They open me up to so many new ways of looking at things – and they carry me through the moments of self-doubt – until the next issue hits my mailbox and I can get my ‘fix ‘! The only thing I would change about Brain, Child is to have it come out more often. That way there would be less time between issues and I could feel a little better about the parenting decisions I make daily – and not have to wait so long for the reassurance that I’m doing OK.

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Writer/Reader Profile

Writer/Reader Profile

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

By Kris Woll

Once a month we talk with one of our writers. Here, some thoughts from Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser.

BT_Sarah ButterweiserFirst, tell us a little about your family.

I have a very lovely husband I’ve been married to for nearly twenty years (how did that happen?) and four kids – turning 18 in September; 15; turning 11 in September; and five-and-a-half (the half is important to her). There are three boys and a girl.

Tell us a little about what you’ve written for Brain, Child.

Much of what I’ve written about for Brain, Child is about the experience of being an adoptive mother in an open adoption. We adopted our youngest child.

When do you write, and where?

I work from home. The blessing of that is early in the morning before anyone is awake, I can get to work. The obstacles include sick days, home days, laundry and summer. Mostly, I work when they are in school. I do get childcare or use other time (play dates) to work on weekends, etc.

How does parenting impact your work/writing?

I guess the biggest truth–aside from the ways the work of parenting can get in the way of the work of writing–is that parenting provides so much fodder.

Where do get your inspiration? 

I don’t have to look far. I wrote an essay last week about making a sincere apology to my daughter after I got really pissed off that she was making me late to a Zumba class at the Y. Life is compelling and I feel lucky to be alive, so inspiration is not at all hard to find.

What books are on your nightstand right now? 

I am reading Andrew Solomon’s epic Far from the Trees, which is fantastic – and very long. My next read is Lisa Jahn-Clough’s young adult novel Nothing But Blue. I am a big fan of her picture books.

Which blogs/sites do you frequent for good writing? 

The New York Times Motherlode and Modern Love columns; Brain, Child’s offerings of course; Salon; and so often what people recommend captures me, too.

What is your favorite Brain, Child essay, story, or feature?  

I wrote Motherwit for Brain, Child’s Special Issue for Parents of T(w)eens. I do not think of myself as a funny writer, and to be on that page was a thrill. There are many essays I’ve loved over the years; I think I was one of the very early subscribers. Like so many of us, Brain, Child turned me on to Catherine Newman’s work — and she remains a favorite essay writer (and a very lovely person, to boot).

Any advice to other parent-writers out there? 

My best advice is to write because you want to write. Writing with an end goal muddies the most important part, which is to do the thing you love to do.

Read Sarah’s work: First Day of Kindergarten, Remembering Adoption, She’s Lucky, Read More

Kris Woll is a Minneapolis-based writer and Brain, Child contributor. She blogs at

Melissa Uchiyama

Each month we talk with one of our readers, here’s what thinking mother Melissa Uchiyama of Tokyo, Japan  has to say.

Reader Profile_Melissa Uchiyama ArtTell me a little bit about your family…

It is Isaac, my amazing husband, and our awesome clan: Kariin, our spritely, just-last-week-turned-three-year-old, going on thirteen; Jude, the irresistible five-month-old with massive thighs; and our two doxie-brothers, Sammie and Riley. The dogs we had shipped to us; they are the originals. Then came the kiddos.

I am now going on my sixth year in Japan, from a very different life in South Florida. My husband was born here, but grew up outside of DC. Life here is delicious, a bit simpler (no car, but tons of walking and trains), and pretty extraordinary.

I am a teacher by trade, a mom, and a bit of a food writer.

How long have you been a subscriber?

Secret’s out—just…one measly, life-filled month. After a few summers leafing through my cousin’s Brain, Child magazine, beachside, and lazing in hammocks, I knew that one day, when I became a parent, I’d surely subscribe to Brain, Child. That it would be as essential and as nourishing as prenatals kept in the diaper bag.

Well, I became a mother after leaving the US to live in Tokyo. I thought, for sure a subscription is no more. Not in the cards– it will cost far too much. However, now with my punky girl and my sweet bruiser, that same cousin gifted me with a subscription that is actually mailed all the way to Japan. Incidentally, she was also the one to talk me through contractions from her Vermont home to my Tokyo cab, via Facebook messages. Some part of me feels that this is some wonderful rite of passage, the magazines are now mine to recommend or loan out

Why do you subscribe to Brain, Child? (e.g. What does the magazine mean to you; how does it compare to other magazines you read?)

This magazine, my gift, helps me connect with savvy, smart parents, not glossy commercials but rich insights. I feel like it focuses on what we already do well and naturally, rather than focusing on what we lack or what we fear we will not have, materially. Pieces generally bring the reader to some change, some peace. The writing helps me to appreciate just where I am and recognize the beauty in these moments, poetry in even the spit-up moments. Encouragement to jot my own notes, take stock, and exemplify a courageous woman who can laugh at herself. It is honest, well-crafted writing. I appreciate that.

What is your favorite Brain, Child essay, story or feature?

Well, being that I am a newbie, there is a whole treasure trove for me to delve into online. For now, I memorize my dog-eared August copy, waiting for my next installment.

What would you like to see more of in Brain, Child?

Bicultural, bilingual (or trilingual) families, stories and features about growing roots in new places, stories of frustration, growth, and faith.

Want to read more thought-provoking essays? Subscribe to Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers and see why we’ve been receiving awards for literary excellence since 2000.