Behind The Editor’s Desk: Sherisa de Groot

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

In a current cultural moment saturated with blogs dedicated to all things childrearing, it can be nonetheless difficult for some mothers to find the answers and community they are looking for. There are still constrictive stereotypes about what a “regular mom” looks and acts like: white, middle-class, straight.  Women who don’t look like they just walked off the set of a dish detergent commercial often get shut out of the conversation. On top of that, the creative knowledge production around parenting and family-building still gets devalued in comparison to other, supposedly more urgent topics, because it is most often women who are producing this knowledge and pushing the conversation forward.

Enter, Raising Mothers, an online magazine “for mothers by mother writers, publishing personal essays, in-depth interviews and creative writing, honoring both parenting and personhood.” Raising Mothers “actively seeks out and supports work by and about those often marginalized in the literary conversation, including people of color and gender non-conformists, and members of the LGBTQIA and differently abled communities.”

If you are a mother searching for a community that sees you and wants to lift you up, Raising Mothers wants to hear your story.

The magazine is hosting a pledge drive for the month of August on their Patreon page, primarily to fund paid work they solicit from feature writers.

I spoke with Founder and Editor Sherisa de Groot about the editing process and philosophy behind Raising Mothers.

What inspired you to create Raising Mothers? 

I jokingly call Raising Mothers my extended 4th trimester after the birth of my son. Before becoming a parent and while I was pregnant, I was very heavily into reading blogs. It was a pastime of mine for almost a decade at that point. As I was drawing nearer to the birth of my own child, I realized how unfulfilling it was to read the day to day of these people. I needed something more weighty, but in manageable portions, like a blog. I went searching for sites that might reflect my own life: one of an early 30s first time mother of color that didn’t focus on the child. I wanted to connect with mothers about their motherhood. I kept coming up empty. 

The desire to find myself and my stories out there in the world gave me the momentum to jump in with both feet. After a lot of hard work, Raising Mothers was born.

What has the response been like from mothers and other parents after you created the site?

The reception has been welcoming and a sigh of relief for a lot of mothers of color in particular. There was and is a need for women of color to share their stories and be normalized in the online realm of parenthood. What I also love is the amount of people that realize this is how it should be. Whiteness shouldn’t be the normalized demographic on parenting. We all have stories and deep histories that need a wider audience and I’m happy to provide the platform. 

There are so many blogs and websites out there dedicated to moms, parenting, and children. What kind of writing do you look for, as an editor, to make Raising Mothers unique?

First, our primary focus is on the parent. Everything has to come back to the parent as a person. Outside of the equally important factor of race and ethnicity, it is imperative that we see ourselves as people. Any work that firmly pulls me into the story and allows me to see through their eyes is a definite winner. 

Personally, I think there is a very thin line that must be respected in this genre. Our children’s stories are not our own to tell. We live in an age where over sharing has consequences beyond our imagination so I don’t accept anything that focuses on children. I do, however, accept submissions that focus on aspects of a writer’s own childhood. 

I treat Raising Mothers more than just a journal to submit your writing. I truly value the community aspect. Not everyone has the words, but everyone still deserves the space to be seen and heard. 

When an author sends you a piece, what is the editing process like? 

Before our hiatus, everything was read solely by me and for some, there might be revisions. Starting in August, there will be two readers and then a revision process. We try to have everything ready with a tentative publication date in mind, depending on our workload. We ask for high quality original work and usually receive that. 

Any plans for the future of Raising Mothers?

So many plans! I would love to do writing/self-care retreats. I plan on hosting reading salons. Our Instagram community is thriving and I also host events like our motherhood postcard swap. We have much more in the pipeline. 

Sherisa de GrootSherisa de Groot is a wife, mother, writer, editor and former jewelry designer originally from Brooklyn, NY. She writes short stories and essays primarily revolving around race, motherhood, identity and place. She lives in Amsterdam, NL with her husband, Dennis, their toddler son, and their cat, Pixel.

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