Mother Of All Contests—2020

We invited you to write a story about a mother—your mother, a mother you know, or even being a mother. Instead of a mere tribute, we asked for a story, something that captures the drama and experience of motherhood. The limit was 29 words.

Here we present the winner and finalists:


I found Mom in the laundry closet with an unlit cigarette between her fingers, her forehead pressed against the wall and we weren't even playing hide-and-go-seek.

Michael Brown
Lennox Head, Australia


Mother says she’s surprised I’m still here, in her house. We had a fight. I’m eighteen and have no car. I’m never sure where she expects me to go.

Ralen Van Domelen
Amity, OR

Saturday’s snapped housecoat and bristle rollers swaying to The 5th Dimension LP spinning on the turntable. Music blasting, she shouts, “Go play on the yellow line, or get cleaning!”

Shelly Gill Murray
Minneapolis, MN

I love Caramello, Ma loves Fruit & Nut. Baba, every week, puts both in the fridge and says nothing. I eat mine. Ma saves hers, for me, every time.

Atreyee Dutta
Atlanta, GA

Mom bleeds into the sink while writing a note: “Cat bite. Drove to ER. Casserole in oven.” Infection rages for weeks. But what kind of casserole, we asked ourselves?

Jennifer D. Munro
Seattle, Washington

After her husband’s lips are stained with borsch and her round-bellied children are sound asleep, it’s finally dinnertime for mom, stooped over a container of yogurt at the sink

Maria Kaufman
New York, NY

Momma was a ship weathered by children, miscarriage and menopause. No squall could sink her. She’d blow her horn and us siblings would step in line like Marines.

Carla Lorenz
Brooklyn, NY

Smoke curls up from her souvenir ashtray. Milk curdles in her cold cup of Barry’s tea. Teased hair frames her paperback novel. Don’t nag Mom during her fiction vacation.

Ashley Goff
Burlington, VT

Other mothers danced in their tiny kitchens, singing with the Chiffons on transistor radios. My mother watched the bouncing ball on the Mitch Miller Show but never sang along.

Eileen Collins
Rotonda West, FL

This contest honors Sunnie Miller—the mother of Dana Miller (Gotham’s dean of students). Born in 1929, Sunnie passed away in 2019 just shy of turning 90. Sunnie was like a mother to the Gotham family, as well as a great raconteur and the classiest woman in Manhattan. Among her many accomplishments: she was a copy chief at Seventeen magazine, she wrote an episode of the popular mystery TV series Danger, and she won a regional Emmy for the children’s musical Sneakers. Sunnie cannot be replaced, but she will be long remembered.