Recently, I had a discussion with my friend Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers, about how writing our memoirs had given us both new perspectives on our relationships with our mothers. Ours were very different journeys, but what resonated in our discussion was how the writing brought clarity, understanding and forgiveness. We thought we would try to capture that conversation here in honor of Mother’s Day.
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Some of us get to know our mothers better after they have passed from this life, through writing about them. It can be one of the benefits of writing a memoir, that we gain a unique insight from mining our life experience through a writerly lens.
Writing, by necessity, makes us take notice of the details surrounding an event or a meaningful moment in our lives. Sometimes the writing helps us see the significance in a conversation, or the scar left by a parent’s action or inaction. This was certainly the case as I wrote the chapters for my memoir Replacement Child.… Read more
We build our world around our children, many of us mothers, and somewhere around their 13th birthday it dawns on us that they will leave. Which, of course, is our goal. I heard a friend of mine recently lament, “what will happen when my raison d’etre goes to college in a few years?” The short answer to that question is, you will cry. Then he will call you with a crisis. Of the heart. Of the wallet. And he will need you. And you will sigh and take your place again as the mother and FedEx him a brisket.
I remember when my son was an infant and motherhood was exhilarating, exhausting and a trial – sometimes all in the same day.… Read more
August takes me back to remembering the last dog-days of summer in the past when I would be scurrying from store to store to find that perfect backpack for my son, the cool sneakers he would wear, a new pair of jeans.
By the time he hit Junior High I was wistful for his elementary school years when I could suit him up in anything I liked and he would be pleased and happy for the new duds and supplies. Excited even to pack his mini backpack with all the pencils and erasers and rulers it could carry. Ready to get on with it and learn!
I made haroseth for my Passover dinner today, and in memory and honor of my mother, I kvetched.
“Why do the Jews have to do everything the hard way!” I clearly remember her bellowing as she chopped the apples and walnuts into tiny pieces. “If the men were doing this, it would be some kind of whipped topping, I swear.”
The first time I made my own Passover meal was when my son was three. We had been celebrating both Easter and Passover, in deference to his father’s religion. We gleefully decorated eggs, welcomed the Easter bunny with his requisite candy baskets and then used the colored eggs for our semi-Passover table when the timing was right between the holidays.… Read more
The other day I was in my local natural health food/vitamin shop—which I love–and I was explaining to my now friend who owns the shop that I was worried to death about my only son travelling across America and camping out in parts unknown. I told her I was afraid he would take up with strangers, meet with tornadoes and hurricanes, and possibly fall down a volcanoe. She said she had the same feelings when her two daughters would go off on adventures and she would have no control over their safety.
“I just pretend I’m dead,” she told me. “If I were dead, they would do what they are going to do and I would have no power anyway–so I just pretend I’m dead.”… Read more
Reading the news that John Travolta and Kelly Preston are expecting a baby a little over a year after the death of their 16-year old son Jett made me think of my own parents’ decision to have another child after losing their eldest daughter. I am that ‘replacement child’ and though many people don’t like the term–it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston can prepare to welcome this new child into their family as a unique individual and cherished addition to their family. With awareness of some of the possible pitfalls, Travolta and Preston can mitigate possible negative effects of being a replacement child as their child grows up. … Read more
I was finally asleep after a fitful night in the hotel when the phone rang just after 7 am. The nurse at the hospice told me in a soft voice that my mother had passed earlier that morning. She waited for a response. “I’ll be right there,” I said. “No need to rush,” she reminded me.
We had stayed with her until the early hours of that morning, and my mother had seemed stable–though we knew she didn’t have long. I had been at the hospital for two days and was running on empty when the nurse convinced me to go get some sleep.… Read more