One of the worst things about your favorite magazine closing its doors on publication is that you don't know that the last issue you received was The Last Issue until weeks and weeks after its arrival. I have fiercely guarded my last issues of Wondertime and Cottage Living, sparing them from the brutal purging of stuff in the past few weeks. I enjoyed those magazines immensely, and I am still sad when I think of them closing.
Sad is not nearly a big enough word to describe how I am mourning the closing of Mothering. Yesterday, Peggy O'Mara announced that Mothering is transitioning to a web-only company. Honestly, I am devastated.
I can still remember the first time I picked up a copy of Mothering and flipped through its glossy pages. I became a member of MotheringDotCommunity (MDC) in November 2005, but it wasn't until several months later that I was able to find a copy of the print magazine. I stood in the Whole Foods in Austin and hardly moved, hardly breathed as I skimmed the pages with a mix of reverence, joy, and awe.
To see page after page exploring, celebrating, and affirming the lifestyle and parenting choices that came so, well, naturally to our family but often made us feel so unlike those around us . . . Warmth from my head to my toes testified to my heart's acknowledgement of like-minded.
But we were poor, too poor to splurge on a year's subscription, and so I held on to that feeling of community-come-to-life that I had found in the pages of Mothering and was happy enough to find like-mindedness at MDC and in other natural family living blogs that were launching around the time I started SortaCrunchy.
When we moved away from the Austin area and out here to the plains of Oklahoma, the hardest part of the transition for me was making new friends. It had happened so easily in Texas. It was, for a variety of reasons, not easy at first here. I struggled with lots of feelings of isolation. And so it was from that place of loneliness and loss that in December 2008, our first Christmas back in Oklahoma, I splurged and finally bought a subscription to Mothering for myself.
Its arrival six times a year in my mailbox for two full years was always a day of delight and communion. The articles were well-written, intelligent, and informative. The letters from other readers sometimes offered thoughtful critiques and respectful objections to articles published in its pages, but mostly the letters professed what I felt - tremendous gratitude for and admiration of Mothering. I even loved the ads! Natural toy companies, cloth diapering businesses, baby carrier makers - every ad supporting Mothering's publication also supported its mission.
And now, just as The Bard wrote, "Welcome ever smiles, and farewell goes out sighing.”
My soul sighs heavy for the loss of this great publication. Yes, I read in Peggy's article that Mothering will continue on as a web company, full of lots of wonderful web-based features such as podcasts, online seminars, wikis, blogs, and more. I'm wishing them all the best in their transition.
All of the readers of Mothering know, however, it simply will not be the same. There was one thing I found in the printed pages of Mothering that cannot be replicated in an online experience: intimacy. Whereas online content is open to all and invites in immediate reaction from every reader, the pages of Mothering offered quiet, singular, personal reflection and response.
I felt an intimate connection to each writer who contributed to Mothering, like maybe she had me in mind when she sat down to pen her article. There were no comments to slog through following each article, no myriad of voices shouting approval or dissent, clamoring to make their opinions known. There were no "like" buttons, no flashing ads offering distraction, no opening of various tabs to follow-up on a thought expressed within an article.
In those beautiful moments in which I snuggled in with a cup of tea and Mothering, there was only the solitary enjoyment of a community that spanned the world. The moments I spent in its pages enriched, nourished, and inspired me - body, mind, and spirit. The loss I feel for its closing is very real.
I'm thankful for the family at Mothering that has seen the publication through generations of readers. May the legacy live on in the lives and families changed by your work.