Our Mother Stories

Saturday, May 08, 2021
Whenever Mother's Day draws near, I must admit I go into overdrive reminiscing about my late mother and thinking of ways to pay homage to her and all that she ever taught me, through my writing. I have my fill of so many memories that I try to slip into those stories. Whether it's a fiction story about a family matriarch, a nostalgic essay about my mother's life, or a children's picture book story where she is the adoring Grandma doling out love, wisdom and peppermints, she is there, her voice, her advice, her mannerisms, the way she dressed, the wigs she loved wearing, the songs she hummed, the television shows she watched, the delicious meals she prepared, the prayers she prayed, and so much more. 

Perfect, of course she wasn't. What mother is. She was flawed, not as self-confident at times as she should have been, and she had her share of sorrows from childhood, but she was generous and kind, what the world and her family always needed a heavy dose of.  And although at times our relationship was complex, mainly during my teen years and when I became a newly minted woman thinking I knew it all, we got through that and she became my confident, my bestie, a mother who loved and supported me unconditionally, as she did my sister, and all of her loved ones especially her grandchildren.

As writers we all have unique mother stories and it is so important to tell them. The sweet ones, the bittersweet ones, the joyous ones, the sorrowful ones, and the unfortunate ones. The ones with mothers who were distant or cruel or who wounded us emotionally because they couldn't relinquish their own inner pain. It is important to tell those stories about mothers who birthed us, mothers who adopted us or we adopted them in our heart, even mother-in-laws who treated us like beloved daughters, or those we could never win over no matter how hard we tried. 

Writing about the mothers in our lives, being daring enough to not only speak about those memories or parts of our relationship that are/were good but also those that are/were painful or chaotic, are stories other women and mothers and even sons and husbands and other men need to read. These are stories that not only help us process our feelings about our mothers and heal so we can be at peace with the state of our relationship or lack of it, but are stories that can help our readers do the same, and perhaps  write down their own mother stories in a journal, book, or in a blog post. 

Our mothers impact our lives in innumerable ways. Writing about them, the beautiful parts and the not so beautiful parts is not easy to do but it is worth doing. Their stories are multifaceted, bursting with history about the era they grew up in. They showcase their perseverance, ingenuity, vulnerability, and other intriguing aspects of their life and why they charted the life path they did. 

So I hope you write them down. Write from a little girl's perspective about the mother you viewed as your full moon. Write about the mother who put other's needs before her own sometimes to a default. Write about the mother who struggled emotionally when you left her nest to fly on your own. Write about the rites of passage your mother passed on to you from her mother. Write about the the conversations you had with your mother when you talked woman to woman about love and life in which you saw her in a different light. And if you didn't know what the abiding love of a mother felt like either as a child or as an adult, create the mother you longed to have in one of your protagonists. That is the gift and freedom we as writers have, a latitude that allows us to use our imagination to create the literary world and characters we want and yes, sometimes need. 

Happy Mother's Day to you and to all of the mothers who are/were a part of our life story.

                                                                                                                ---Jeanine

Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer whose work has been published in several magazines, anthologies, and online. This is one of her treasured photos of her late mother Evelyn in one of her favorite wigs.  

6 comments:

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--Like you, I no longer have my mother with me. Like you and your mom, my mom and I had a rough phase, but we weathered it and became wonderful friends.

I miss her so much.

Happy Mother's Day, Jeanine. May you enjoy tomorrow, remembering your mother and telling stories and recalling fond memories.

(And those shades and that wig... Your mom must have been one heck of a woman!)

Joanne said...

Jeanine, what a lot of wisdom here! I am touched by your insight and compassion. Among all of your posts, this is my favorite for its depth, breadth, and universality. I love that you acknowledged that not everyone has great relationships with their mom, but that is okay and that we can all offer ourselves (and perhaps others) something of value by writing our "mother stories." Thank you for writing this.

Joanne

PS: This is my second attempt to post...I was on my cell phone before, which promptly ate the comment I posted when I pressed the button to sign in/upload. I sure hope it made it this time!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you so much Sioux. May you have a wonderful Mother's day and a day full of great memories about your Mom also. And yes, she was one heck of a woman.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you so very much Joanne. I truly appreciate your comments.

Angela said...

Beautiful post, Jeanine. Mother's Day has always been rough for me. I didn't know my mother for very long, but in that short time she impacted my life tremendously; and no matter what I write, she becomes part of my story. You're so right when you said that these stories can help others and help heal ourselves. She's the reason I started writing. It's strange to say, but it's been 36 years since she passed away and I still think about her every day.

I bet you have some amazing stories about your mom! I love her wig and sunglasses. :)

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you Angela. I'm glad you had enough precious time with your mother so that she could impact your life and your writing. And yes I do have some amazing stories, as I'm sure you do, and I hope you continue to write yours also.

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