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Monday, June 20, 2005

When I was a mama


posted by bitchphd
Some of you may have seen me recommend Allison Crews's story, When I was Garbage as an excellent narrative about being a very young, single mom. Very few of you, however, know that I met Allison once, and worked with her a bit online on a now-defunct discussion board for Hipmama.com. I came to blogging through hipmama, which was my first real online community; I moderated there for I don't remember how long (a year? less?) and sadly, the boards ended up coming down because the community started falling apart over the problem of racism. I kind of miss it: though as an older, married mother with tons of formal education I wasn't exactly the target audience, I did find a real sense of community there and I learned a lot--a LOT--from those women whose lives were different than my own, and who were by and large incredibly fucking smart and, by virtue of their "marginal" status, really intelligent and provocative cultural critics. So, for instance, this statement by Allison:
'To radically accept and defend a woman's right to choose, we must acknowledge the multiple ways that women come to make reproductive choices. By marginalizing teenage mothers, even within the feminist community, we are failing to recognize the realities of countless women and their children.'

So I was horrified this morning to open up my work email to find a message from the Association for Research on Mothering saying that Allison had died, at the age of twenty-two. A little more information, including a description of the funeral, can be found over at Ariel Gore's site.

It's terribly sad. Allison was really young; her son, I guess, would be about seven now. And she was shockingly intelligent, yet (my impression) rather quiet and very sweet-natured in person. I ran a few errands for her at a hipmama conference, and she and I were together on a workshop/roundtable for student parents. You've probably never heard of her, but she made a big difference to a lot of women, including me; I met her briefly, many years ago, but never forgot about it and to this day "When I was Garbage" brings tears to my eyes. Apparently there's a livejournal site, Letters for Cade's Journal that's been set up for anyone who wants to post memories of her for her son to read later. I remember a few people saying that "When I was Garbage" had touched them too, and I thought that, even if you never met her, you might want to leave a note if that was the case.
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