Kris Woll interviews Galit Breen, a contributing writer in This is Childhood, a book and journal about the first years of childhood:
What was your inspiration for writing this piece? Have you written other things about this age/stage?
I wrote this piece when my youngest of three was right smack in the middle of this age. It felt new with him but strikingly old to me all at the same time. I loved learning how the moments—and my reactions to them—told his story as a 4-year-old, my story as a mom, and our story as a family.
What is it about age 4 you liked the most? The least?
I love the wild abandon and creativity of 4-year-olds. And the STRONG opinions and reactions— while fun, adorable, and story-worthy in retrospect—feel challenging to me in the moment.
What do you wish you knew before you had a 4-year-old, or what advice do you wish you could tell your former self about mothering at that particular stage?
I would tell myself—again and again—that my children’s true personalities are starting to form and to embrace that. Because not only is it lovely to get to watch it happen, but it’s also the very first chance to send them the message that I love them exactly how they are!
What other age/stage in this collection (which explores 1-10) is one you would like to explore more—or do you often find yourself turning to—in your writing?
I think about Lindsay’s piece—age 10—the most often. It’s a stage I haven’t reached yet, but am about to, and I love having Lindsay’s chartered-territory words to turn to for comfort and inspiration as my own daughter and I tiptoe into double digits.
How do writing and mothering fit together for you? How has that fit over time?
I started writing about motherhood when my youngest was an infant. It’s where I found my voice and my heart and learned how to use both within my words. I’m grateful for the two and see them as perfectly interlaced.
What is your advice to other mother writers?
My best advice is to write with equal parts honesty and kindness and with the crystal clear insight that your children will read your words one day so be purposeful and mindful about what and how you write about them.
What do you hope readers will take with them from your piece? From this collection?
I hope that readers feel with each fiber of their being that every single stage of mothering and childhood has golden glints to it. So if you’re in a harder moment that’s stretching you more than feels comfortable—remember that it will pass. And if you’re feeling the bittersweetness of growth and change, remember that there are (many, many) more gems to come.
Photo credit: Nicole Spangler Photography
Read Galit’s “This is Four” essay in This is Childhood, a book and journal about the first years of childhood.