I know Mother’s Day is a few weeks away, and I should wait to post about mothers until then, but I just finished reading glitter and glue by Kelly Corrigan, and moments later, I received a mysterious (but not really) package in the mail from Amazon, and it’s my damn blog and I can write whatever I like, whenever I like.
I’m usually not so aggressive. Must be a maternal instinct thing. Not that I love my blog like I love my grown-up babies, but the reality is, the blog never rolls its eyes at me.
Corrigan’s memoir (her 3rd memoir, I think, and she’s younger than me) is a great read and a touching tribute to her mother, whom she describes as “a frank and complicated woman I would have loved to . . . have known as a peer, so that maybe it wouldn’t have taken me forty years to appreciate her properly.”
While the last thing I would call my mother is “frank,” I would admit that like Corrigan, while I always loved my mother, I haven’t always appreciated her properly.
About 75 percent of what I write, when I’m not blogging, is about mothers and daughters. I’ve been fascinated by the relationship since I was a child and watched the push and pull of my mother and her mother. As I grew older, I noticed all the different ways my friends and neighbors interacted with their mothers, and later, how my sister’s relationship with my mother differs from mine. Despite the variety of relationship styles, I’ve come to recognize that a single opposition exists beneath the surface of the complicated weave of every one of these mother-daughter relationships, and that is the strain between dependence and independence.
I started fighting for my independence early, which made me a difficult daughter to manage, for many reasons but mostly because I didn’t understand my own actions any better than I understood my mother’s reactions to my behavior. My mother and I are quite different in the way we approach the world, and even in the way we mother our children, but without a doubt, there are many things that draw us together.
Probably the most obvious of our similarities is our love of books. Novels, in particular. My brother and sister are readers, too, but my mother and I have a similar way of parsing out the good from the bad, the books worth talking about versus those not worth finishing.
While my mother has given me hundreds maybe thousands of novels or suggestions of novels to read, there are a few that stand out for me: Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk, the works of Edna Ferber, and Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine by Ann Hood. Not one of those books is a masterpiece, per se, but everyone of those books has stayed with me throughout my life. I know that in each case my mother gave the book to me because she understood, maybe not consciously, that in our love or hate of the characters, in our responses to the actions those characters took, she and I were having a conversation, even if we never spoke of the books after I read them. I believe that through reading my mother’s books, I have grown to know and understand better who she is at her core and how we are both the same and different.
Now, the mysterious Amazon package. I order a lot of books but I knew when I received this package that I didn’t have any unfilled orders from Amazon. As I ripped open the packaging, it crossed my mind that it could be from my mother. It’s been awhile since she’s sent me a book without telling me it was coming, but who else would send me a book from Amazon?
There wasn’t a card inside, only a book: The Storied Life of A.J. FiKry.
A couple of weeks ago, my mother called to tell me about this book. I should read it. It was all about books. It was literary but a really easy read. It made you think about so many things. She knows all my triggers. I jotted down the name of the book and promptly forgot to get a copy.
And then, just when I’m in need of a new book to read (okay, in all honesty, I am mid-book with three others and have a to be read pile that is mountainous), what arrives but this book, that I should read, that is all about books, that is literary but a really easy read, that makes you think.
It’s not my way to say thank you for giving birth to me, Mom. Feels awkward, inappropriate even. But to say thank you for sending me a book that you loved and that you’re pretty sure I’m going to love, that’s easy and heartfelt and makes more sense to me.
So thank you Mom! I’m getting started on the book today and will let you know what I think when I’m finished reading it.
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