Published on February 12th, 2016 | by Haley Jude1
Real MUTHAS! Video Series: SHOSHANA VON BLANCKENSEE
We drove five miles per hour, the speed limit, through the picturesque streets of Alameda, a little island just across the bay from San Francisco. Five mile per hour speed limit! I exclaimed. I love this place! We were not in San Francisco anymore. We were in a neighborhood, a place to raise a family. When we pulled up to Shoshana’s adorable house—it had a front AND a back yard—I thought she had everything I wanted.
She was a writer and a mom. She had a home. She had once toured with Sister Spit and now here she and her partner were—doing the domestic thing their queer way. We had mutual friends, but I’d never met her before. I was there with my partner Simone to interview her for our Real MUTHAS series. When I introduced myself, already swooning over the charm of it all, no doubt, I didn’t tell her I had recently had a miscarriage.
Why would I decide to do a series of interviews with moms when I was still reeling from my miscarriage, still thinking about how pregnant I should have been, you might wonder? I was obsessed with becoming a mom. I waited impatiently for the next piece to post on MUTHA. I’d been devastated by my miscarriage and couldn’t stand to see anyone pregnant, and yet I wanted to be immersed in mother culture. I wanted to join the club. I wanted to surround myself with mothers and babies and make art about them and with them.
On this sunny Sunday in July, Shoshana sat down with us in her dining room while her baby napped and her toddler played at Fairyland with Laurel, Shoshana’s partner and abba to their kids. Shoshana held nothing back. She told us about the wild, terrifying, miracles of her births. I admired how she disrupted the typical narrative of a homebirth. This wasn’t birth as some beautiful transcendent event; this was birth as survival.
We talked about what queerness meant in a post-youth culture, post late nights at the bar, out-all-night-spoken-word-poetry phase of life. In their immaculate home with the streamers and the tiny green table and chairs it was hard to imagine the tequila-shot-taking younger self Shoshana described. We talked about the gendering of childhood and about how she and Laurel white out some of the names and pronouns in books to add an abba character.
When the baby woke up, Shoshana went to fetch her, and she nuzzled into her mama’s chest as we finished our interview. She was adorable, little cherub face, and I wanted one of my own so badly. Shoshana told us more about how her and Laurel have navigated parenting roles, and I was reminded how intentional queer parents have to be—and get to be—when it comes to building and raising a family.
When she showed us her three pregnancy tests, one for each of her children and one for the miscarriage she had in between, I felt less alone. It’s been a year and half since I interviewed Shoshana. I now have my own sweet soft baby face to interrupt my work each and every day. Shoshana’s kids aren’t babies anymore. When I asked her for an update she said, “Now that I have a 2.5 year old and a 5 year old, I’ve started to write again! (and work out again! and shower again!) I’m working on a non-fiction book with the ever talented photographer Su Evers.”
And P.S. Here’s those kids now(ish)—As Shoshana, who provided this clip, told MUTHA, the video says it all: