Writer’s Digest “When Writing and Parenting Collide Winners”: Second Place Goes to Mar Junge

Kristin Carlson just left a great comment about her first place essay’s writing process. Go to the post below this one to check it out.

Now let’s see if we can encourage Mar Junge to do the same. 🙂

Here’s her second-place winning entry:

When Parenting and Writing Collide—a 492 word essay by Mar Junge

My boss stared at me from across the conference table, his arms crossed and moustache twitching. “You’re my best writer! How could you have a baby during our busiest time of year? What were you thinking?”

I bit my lip to keep from blurting out that my hubby and I sure weren’t thinking about him nine months ago when we were alone on a Caribbean beach, under a strawberry daiquiri-colored sunset, the condoms forgotten back at the cabana.

“Can you at least stay for today’s meeting?” Jim pleaded.

“If I do, will you promise not to call me for two months?”

He nodded and glanced under the conference table where my infant was asleep in her carrier. I rocked her seat with my toe, silently praying she’d sleep through the meeting.

The account managers and art directors began filing in, followed by our new clients—two somber, silver-haired VPs in three-piece suits. After the introductions, Jim launched into his speech about how we must “feel the customer’s pain” to create a good ad. Pain? Come to think of it, my breasts were throbbing. Right on cue, Melinda started fussing—softly at first, then louder, until there was no denying the crying baby. I apologized and bent down to pop a pacifier in her mouth. She shoved it away and wailed. The VPs squirmed.

“I’m so sorry. She must be hungry,” I said, lifting her out of her seat and settling her in the crook of my arm.

I plucked a bottle from the diaper bag and tried to coax it into her mouth. Her flailing arms knocked it out of my hand, splattering a coworker’s beige silk blouse with drops of formula. Jim rolled his eyes and tried to distract the clients by rearranging the ad samples on the table. I felt my breasts ballooning as my milk ‘let down.’ Desperate, I draped a blanket over my shoulder, fumbled underneath to unhitch my nursing bra, pushed the wailing infant against my chest and waited for her toothless gums to latch on.

I felt Melinda clamp down on my bowling-ball-hard breast. She sucked noisily. A coworker snickered. Another looked away. After a few minutes of obscene-sounding slurping noises and still no milk, Melinda arched her back and howled, pulling the blanket down on top of her. A thin stream of milk squirted out in a perfect arc from my exposed breast. Everybody stared at the grey-white puddle on the art boards. Then at me. I grabbed a cloth diaper, tossed it on the puddle, settled Melinda on my now free-flowing teat, repositioned the blanket, and smiled at the VPs.

“So, what do you think of our campaign?” I asked.

They stood up quickly, gathered their papers and briefcases and hurried out of the room, my boss trailing after them. As the door swung shut, my coworkers burst into applause.

My boss didn’t call me even once during the rest of my maternity leave.

#

Mar, come on over and tell us all about how you wrote this piece. We are all very interested to learn from you.

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9 Responses to “Writer’s Digest “When Writing and Parenting Collide Winners”: Second Place Goes to Mar Junge”


  1. 1 Megan October 2, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Oh, I laughed out loud! Great stuff. 🙂

  2. 2 Tammy E October 2, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    You are fabulous! Having worked in a pr firm, I can relate to the meeting scenario perfectly. Although I was lucky enough to work in a predominantly female environment with plenty of new moms, nursing moms, about to be moms, there were always awkward moments to be experienced with clients.

    You wrote this beautifully and with a really intelligent wit!

    Your analogies were priceless – “bowling ball hard breast”.

    Whatever it takes to get a peaceful maternity leave;)

    Tammy

  3. 3 Mary Jo C. October 3, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Mar,

    OMG! Hysterical! Did that really happen?! I’m getting more and more thankful I do my writing when the kids are bunked down at night.

  4. 4 marnini October 3, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Mar(By the way that is what I go by too (Mar)just not in the blogging world) I thought this was hilarious and I smiled the whole time reading it.
    Great Job-
    Maribeth :}

  5. 5 Besu October 3, 2007 at 9:45 am

    At the point where the arc of milk squirts out, I gasped aloud and had to cover my mouth. I think I would have died on the spot if that had happened to me.

  6. 6 Andrea McMann October 3, 2007 at 10:07 am

    That was a great one! Having breastfed two kiddos, I’ve been in sticky situations like this. This piece is totally relatable and told in an interesting, funny way! 🙂

  7. 7 Mar Junge October 3, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks everybody for such kind words. Yes, this story is true. It happened back in the ’80s when many people in the professional world thought that once you had a baby, your brain dried up and you would lose all interest in your career. This incident also taught me who my true friends were. Shortly after I returned from leave, my then-boss Jim put out a memo that employees were no longer allowed to bring children to the PR agency because of “insurance concerns.” Yeah right. So a few months later I resigned, along with the art director, to start our own agency. Lisa and I just celebrated our 20th year in business.

    Even after all these years, the memory of that afternoon is still vivid. The hardest part about writing this essay was getting it down to 500 words. After I wrote it, I submitted it to my novel writing class and got some good ideas for improvement. Then when I thought it was “perfect” I sent it to my fantastic copywriter and editor, Julie Hart, who improved it even further. Honestly, there is no substitute for a good editor and I would never submit anything to a magazine or publisher without having it reviewed by professional eyes.

    The most fun I’ve had with this essay is watching the faces of my two daughters (now 20 and 16) and my 14-year old son when they read it. It sparked conversations about their most embarrassing moments — and gave me fodder for my YA novel — which will probably take me ten more years to write. But no matter. Someday, my kids will pass my writing on to their kids and nobody will ever forget “Grandma Mar.”

  8. 8 Cheryl October 3, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Your use of words is incredible! You drew me into the story and kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought those type of embarrassing moments only happened to me. Wow, I think that this tops any of my stories. Very nice piece; keep submitting your work…you’ll go far.

  9. 9 Heather Haapoja October 7, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Hysterical!! Being a SAHM from the beginning, I never had to go through any work situations like this, but I could see everything just as if I were there myself. Great writing!


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