Back in 2018, I wrote about my guilty pleasure: pasta with ketchup. It was a short piece produced at the beginning of a Gotham Creative Writing 101 Intensive with Nelsie Spencer, who seemed to utterly admire how I bathed that pasta in butter too, before going all out on the ketchup. Her reaction to both my honesty and my writing was the encouragement I needed, the feeling I would remind myself of three years later.
When I became pregnant in the fall of 2019, none of us knew that “What to expect when you're expecting” would soon barely apply anymore, in a world focused on daily briefings, death tolls and toilet rolls.
My husband and I became parents in the middle of a pandemic in June 2020 and our now 10- month-old baby has never met her grandparents, who live in India and Germany. We only know how to go through this in isolation and have no reference point, but when thoughts kept repeating on my mind over and over again, I knew I needed an outlet.
Six weeks of writing during naptime ensued, during which I found that the words were just pouring from me—much like when I had been writing about pasta with ketchup in 2018. Being brutally honest about both how hard and how full of joy this experience is, became how I processed what was not to be expected.
How is it that it took me until my baby was three months old to become conscious of the fact that I had given birth on Zoom while wearing an N95 mask? How much of my being did just accept and get on with things without acknowledging consciously that whatever it felt like at the time, I was doing the best I could?
It was time someone stepped up to start the conversation on becoming a parent in a pandemic, and reading through my essays I knew that this person could be me: I just needed to publish what I had written so others could either feel seen or encouraged to comment with their viewpoint and begin to speak too.
In February 2021, I self-published my book Raising Generation C: Pregnancy, Pandemic, Parenting. Since then I have been blessed with many messages of bravery and opportunities to become closer with people while far apart.
Early in childhood, when I regularly wrote furious and heartfelt letters, pleading with my parents, I knew that writing was my medium, however it took pasta with ketchup and a pandemic baby for me to follow the calling and increase my audience of two and that is OK. It’s one more thing I learned during this experience: it is entirely OK to be human, even as, or especially as, a parent.
As I continue to write my way through the everyday and brave the challenge to be seen for it in all my parental vulnerability, I owe your team at Gotham Writers a thank you. Thank you for demystifying writing, thank you for holding space for creative souls, and thank you for thereby connecting people in the most wonderful ways.