My Postpartum Body

There is no good way to get a baby out of a body. That a woman goes through childbirth and then has to immediately collect the loose bag of marbles that is her body and begin the exhaustive, relentless work of taking care of a helpless newborn is bonkers. This is true even for the best, easiest births (I did not have one of those).

The state of my postpartum body felt (and was) irrelevant compared to the health of my daughter, and as correct as this was I sometimes resented it. Every time I log rolled out of bed, winced my way down the stairs, and chided my husband to slow down as I shuffled around the block, I was reminded of just how secondary I was. (read more…)

What Being a Very New Mother Feels Like

It feels like when I’m happy — even gleeful — to be apart, some little interior elf is also uneasily missing her. When I return to find her safe and happy, I’m momentarily thrilled before becoming frustrated at the unrelenting grind of her care.

It feels like trying to describe your “interesting” dream to someone. (read more…)

The Mother of All Questions

Hi! It’s been a minute.

This is just a quick post to say that we’re coming back, for a limited time, with a mini-season around a central theme: parenthood and children.

Why this theme? Two reasons. (read more…)

Goodbye for Now

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Today is the third birthday of this site. It started as an outgrowth of our career group, and turned into a place to talk about the personal backstories behind big life choices. We’ve devoted hundreds and hundreds of happy hours to it in that time, writing pieces, recruiting and editing guest authors, and making it into a site we were proud of. And now we have some news to share, which is that we’re going to stop publishing Small Answers (at least for now). (read more…)

Small Answers Readers Recommend…

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Do you remember the feeling, as a kid, of losing yourself completely in a book? That dreamlike state, composed of emotion and timelessness, that comes with complete absorption of something outside yourself?

When I remember that feeling, I think of the “Little House” books, of “Bridge to Terabithia,” of the “Alanna: Song of the Lioness” series. I still chase that feeling when I pick out books to read now, as an adult, and a few months ago I captured it. After hearing for many years about Jane Smiley’s “A Thousand Acres,” I took it out of the library and spent the whole weekend reading it on my couch. It had been a long time since I had lost myself so wholly in another world; for two afternoons I became fully consumed with the story of the Cook family, their choices, the world of Zebulon County, IA. It felt intoxicating.

Since we know that the Small Answers community is full of dedicated readers, we wanted to mine the wisdom and taste of our audience. We asked you to tell us about a book or two that has been meaningful to you at some point in your life. What follows is an amazing list of book recommendations along with notes about why these reads were significant. (read more…)